Bottom Line

Overall, we’d give the Netgear Orbi a strong rating of 9 out of 10. Aside from the price, which can be a bit prohibitive, the Orbi performs near-flawlessly, and it provides an edge over most other mesh wi-fi systems available on the market, too. The only downside besides the cost is that the main and satellite units of the Orbi system cannot yet be connected via cable, but this feature may be coming in a future update. All in all, this is seemingly the best mesh wi-fi system you can buy today – if you’re willing to pay the price.

The Netgear Orbi is a new type of device called a mesh wi-fi system. This system is an iteration of the wi-fi that we’ve known and loved for years now, but more advanced and more reliable. The mesh wi-fi system is still a relatively new concept, but its clear advantages over standard wi-fi routers are starting to increase its popularity.

In the paragraphs below, we’ll give you a full, comprehensive review of the Netgear Orbi, how it works, and what it means for wi-fi moving forward. If you’re interested in trying this next-generation wireless router system, read on!

Product

Tri-Band Unit + 1 Satellite Unit

Tri-Band Unit + 2 Satellite Units

Tri-Band Ultra Unit + 1 Satellite Unit

Tri-Band Unit + 2 Wall Plug Units

Coverage

Up to 5,000 sq. ft.

Up to 6,000 sq. ft.

Up to 5,000 sq. ft.

Up to 5,000 sq. ft.

Number of Supported Devices

25+

Up to 20

60+

Up to 20

Wi-Fi Technology

AC3000

AC2200

AX6000

AC2200

Wi-Fi Speed

Up to 3 Gbps

Up to 2.2 Gbps

Up to 6 Gbps

Up to 2.2 Gbps

ISP Speed Tier

Up to 500 Mbps

Up to 200 Mbps

Up to 2.5 Gbps

Up to 200 Mbps

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    The Orbi System

    The Orbi System

    What makes the Netgear Orbi better than a traditional wi-fi router? Well, if you live in a small house, apartment, or dorm, there’s no real benefit to using the Orbi over a traditional router. However, the Orbi truly shines in large homes where multiple family members use the wi-fi regularly.

    Essentially, the Orbi (and other wi-fi mesh systems) work by spreading your wi-fi signal further across a given area. In this case, that would be someone’s home, a lecture hall, a business building, or any other place where a wide “blanket” of wi-fi would be needed.

    Mesh wi-fi systems work similarly to a router and extender. However, instead of putting off separate signals, a mesh system will protect the same network throughout the entire home. The system will switch users to whichever unit is closest to the connected device’s location, then send those signals back to the host router.

    There are several of these mesh “blanket” systems on the market today, and as our wireless internet capabilities continue to improve, there will only be more. However, the Orbi is unique in that it works differently than anything else that’s hit the market so far. We’ll go over this in more detail below.

    Why Is Orbi Unique?

    Why Is Orbi Unique

    The Netgear Orbi is unique because it’s a “tri-band” wi-fi system. This means that, in addition to the 2.4 GHz band and 5 GHz band, the Orbi has a third signal that it broadcasts. This signal is actually an additional 5 GHz band that’s used exclusively to communicate with the host router.

    Dual-band mesh systems, on the other hand, use one of the two standard bands released by routers to transfer this signal. As a result, when a satellite connection broadcasts to the main router, it slows down the transference of any devices connected to that band.

    The Orbi is unique because it rids itself of this significant drawback of wireless mesh systems by using this third band. The third band is totally dedicated to this data transference, so nothing else can slow down its signal (or any competing signals), either.  The Orbi is compatible with all current ISPs, too.

    Netgear Orbi Specs

    Netgear Orbi Specs

    Because the Orbi works so differently from other wi-fi mesh devices, it’s the first one that, in our opinion, is worth purchasing over a standard wi-fi repeater setup. However, do keep in mind that, because of this, the Orbi is significantly more expensive than buying multiple routers or range extenders separately would be.

    The main two-piece package starts at around $275 and tops out at $370. However, you can also purchase three-piece units (that are slightly slower) for up to $300, one central unit with two wall-plug units for up to $300, and a two-piece “ultra-performance” set (that doubles the speed of the original two-piece unit) for up to $700.

    the ultra performance Orbi set for up to $700

    With that extra expense comes significantly increased performance, though. While it can’t beat dedicated wire connections, this wi-fi mesh system is superior to just about any whole-house alternative you can buy today. If you need to extend your wi-fi signal across your home, this is your best (wireless) bet to do so.

    Is It Any Good?

    So far, fortunately, the Netgear Orbi seems to be living up to what’s been promised. The price has gone down since it was released, too, and it will likely continue to do so. The device is secure, easy to set up, and relatively bug-free. While its long-term durability remains to be seen, you can safely bet that this product will be worth the investment.

    Do you have any experience with the Netgear Orbi system? Do you have one in your home? Have you had any issues with it or noticed anything exceptional about it? What are your before and after ratings for speed? Let us know in the comments below!

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