Netgear Orbi Review
The Netgear Orbi is more than just a WiFi booster. Netgear calls it “the world’s first tri-band mesh system.” This means that you can create one network, with one name, for your WiFi extender that will remain constant as you move throughout your home. Highlights include:
- 5,000 square feet of coverage
- Router and WiFi extender in one
- Easy set up
Netgear Orbi Review
If you have strong, perfect internet that seamlessly covers every room in your house, no matter how many devices are connected, how much data you’re streaming, how many people are online, and how far away you are from the router, you may not need a WiFi booster. However, chances are the above statement isn’t true. This is why you need a WiFi booster.
How Does a WiFi Booster Work?
A WiFi booster works by capturing a WiFi signal from the router and then rebroadcasting it to areas of your house where the WiFi is either slow or nonexistent. It not only provides WiFi to these dead zones but speeds up the connection in the process no matter how far you are from the router or how many people are using your WiFi. With so many options of WiFi routers out there, we’ve chosen our favorites. Among them is the Netgear Orbi High-Performance AC3000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi System (RBK50), otherwise known as the Netgear Orbi.
What is a Mesh WiFi System?
The Netgear Orbi is more than just a WiFi booster, and some (but not all) refer to it as a Mesh WiFi System. Netgear calls it “the world’s first tri-band mesh system.” This means that you can create one network, with one name, for your WiFi extender that will remain constant as you move throughout your home. Not all WiFi extenders enable you to do this. In fact, many require you to create separate networks with different names and switch WiFi networks as you move throughout the house. A mesh system does not require this.
The Netgear Orbi is designed to cover up to 5,000 square feet with it’s Tri-band WiFi system. The Orbi comes with an Orbi WiFi Router and Satellite. It replaces your home router and any existing WiFi extenders you may have. In essence, it’s the whole package in one. It’s expensive, but if you need strong, fast, and consistent WiFi throughout your entire home, it’s worth it.
- Set-up: The Orbi is simple to set up and can be done in less than 20 minutes, not matter what your level of technological expertise.
- Easy to use App: While most WiFi extenders are installed via app, Orbi’s is one of the easiest apps we’ve come across. It also enables more customization than some of the others we’ve tried.
- Speed: Orbi provides very fast internet speeds and in fact is faster than others we’ve reviewed, including the eero.
- Ethernet ports: Orbi’s two units both have ethernet ports, which allow you to directly connect your gaming console, Smart TV, streaming player, and other devices directly to the unit. This allows for better streaming and is a feature that not all WiFi extenders or WiFi mesh systems have.
- Range: Orbi’s two units can cover up to 5,000 square feet.
- Consistent coverage: If you’re looking for consistent WiFi, you’re in luck, as Orbi rarely goes out.
- Single SSID: Orbi operates off of one SSID, which makes managing connections easy; you do not need to switch WiFi networks as you move throughout your house.
- Aesthetically pleasing: While the Orbi units are larger than some WiFi extenders, they are white and sleek looking, and thus blend in well with their surroundings.
- Alexa-enabled: Orbi has a built-in Alexa function that enables you to play music, check the weather, get news updates, and even control your smart home devices.
- Price: Orbi is significantly more expensive than competitors. In fact, it’s the most expensive WiFi extender we’ve come across.
- Warranty: Orbi only features a one year warranty, which isn’t much considering how expensive the units are. However, this is normal for most WiFi extenders and other electronics.
- Unit size: Orbi’s two units are larger than competitors. While this isn’t a problem for most people, others may find the units bulky.
When you open your new Netgear Orbi box, you’ll find the following:
- One (1) Orbi Router (RBR50)
- One (1) Orbi Satellite (RBS50)
- One (1) 2m Ethernet cable
- Two (2) 12V/2.5A power adapters
- Quick start guide
The products stats are as follows:
|Combined WiFi speed||3,000 Mbps (1733 + 866 + 400Mbps)|
|Coverage||5,000 sq ft|
|Dedicated Backhaul||4×4 (1.7Gbps)|
|Memory||4GB flash and 512MB RAM|
|Antennas||Six (6) high-performance antennas|
|Dimensions||6.4 x 3.1 x 8.0in (Router), 6.4 x 3.1 x 8.0in (Satellite)|
|Gigabit Ethernet ports (Router)||1 WAN and 3 LAN|
|Gigabit Ethernet Port (per Satellite)||4 LAN|
|Works with Orbi OS||Yes|
|Guest WiFi network||Yes|
|Works with Amazon Alexa & the Google Assistant||Yes|
Quick And Easy Set Up With Orbi App
Orbi’s app makes setting up your system a breeze. The app enables you to set up your WiFi system in minutes. Simply connect your smartphone or tablet to the router network and the app will walk you step by step through the process. Once set up, you can use the dashboard to pause the internet, set up parental controls, run speed tests, and more.
- Step one: Unplug your existing modem. If it uses a backup battery, remove and replace it and then plug the modem back in.
- Step two: Find your Orbi router and Ethernet cable. Use the cable to connect your modem to your Orbi router.
- Step three: Plug your Orbi router into a power source. The power LED on the back of the Orbi should light up. If not, then press the power on/off button.
- Step four: The Orbi router LED light should light up. First, it will be white, and then it should blink.
- Step five: Now that your Orbi router is set up, it’s time to set up your second Orbi, the Orbi satellite. Start by placing it in the middle of your home, or equidistance between the router and the farthest spot you are seeking WiFi coverage.
- Step six: Plug the Orbi satellite unit to a power source. If the power LED on the back of the Orbi unit does not light up, press the Power On/Off button.
- Step seven: The Orbi satellite’s ring LED will light up. It will start as a solid white light, and then pulse white, and then pulse magenta. It may take up to one minute before fully connecting to and syncing with the Orbi router.
- Step eight: After the magenta light begins pulsing, it will change colors for approximately ten seconds before turning off. The colors and their meanings are as follows:
- Solid blue: The connection between Orbi router and Orbi satellite is good.
- Solid magenta: There is a problem and the Orbi satellite cannot connect to the Orbi router. If this happens, reposition the Orbi satellite so it is closer to the Orbi router.
- Solid amber: The connection between the Orbi router and Orbi satellite is fair, but could be improved. If possible move the Orbi satellite closer to the Orbi router.
- Step nine: Connect your computer (or other mobile devices) to the Orbi router or satellite using an Ethernet cord or WiFi connection. If you will be connecting with WiFi, locate the preset WiFi network name (SSID) and password found on the label of the Orbi router or satellite and connect to that network.
- Step ten: Using your computer or mobile device, go to orbilogin.com and follow the instructions to complete setup of your Orbi network. When the Orbi router’s ring LED turns off, you will know the initial setup in successful.
The Netgear Orbi is designed specifically to stretch Wi-Fi coverage farther than a normal router to cover as much area in and around your house as possible. The Netgear Orbi is comprised of two units, which can be thought of as a router unit and a satellite unit, each of which is a tri-band router. This means that each unit has several ethernet and USB ports as well as one 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band and two 5GHz bands. The units each serve its own purpose: one acts as a “normal” router and emits your WiFi signal and a second unit works to extend the WiFi signal.
The Orbi uses only one SSID (the WiFi connection name). This is important, as it makes setting up the multi-router WiFi booster easier. The setup is as simple as plugging the main router into your modem and turning it on and next, placing the satellite in an optimal spot in your home and turning it on. The two units will automatically find one another and synch up, and you’ll be able to log onto the router in minutes.
Orbi’s router and satellite both have three ethernet ports. You may be wondering why these are needed if the goal of the Netgear Orbi is to provide wireless connection throughout your home. The ethernet ports enable you to connect your Smart TV, gaming console, streaming player, and other devices directly to the source for even better streaming.
The Orbi has a 1-year warranty that reads “[g]oods presented for repair may be replaced by refurbished goods of the same type rather than being repaired. Refurbished or used parts may be used to repair the goods. If NETGEAR, by its sole determination, is unable to replace the defective product, it will refund the depreciated purchase price of the product.”
The Netgear Orbi is intended for large homes or spaces with multiple floors and does a good job at providing consistent, fast WiFi to all corners of your home. Additionally, it is easy to install and aesthetically pleasing. If you have a large home and want consistent WiFi access throughout (and don’t mind paying a lot of money), this is the best WiFi booster for you. If you live in a smaller home or an apartment, however, you can likely get by with a more affordable WiFi extender such as Google’s or the Netgear EX3800.
Forbes put it best by saying, “[the Netgear Orbi is] like a [WiFi] range extender on steroids. Combined, a two-unit Orbi kit delivers a 2×2 400Mbps 2.4GHz channel, a 2×2 866Mbps 5GHz channel and that third 4×4 1733Mbps 5GHz channel for a combined 3Gbps aggregate total (hence the AC3000 moniker). To say this system delivered performance would be an understatement.”
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