Best Netgear Orbi Buying Guide & Black Friday & Cyber monday Offers 2021

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Downscaled by design

The brand new Orbi doesn’t look anything just like the last ones. Gone will be the tall, fin-like obelisks of the initial Orbi and the built-in Harman Kardon Alexa speakers of the Orbi Voice. Instead, you get little white plastic boxes with rounded edges and a woven selection of heat vents at the top.

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Everything gives both router and the number extender a definite yet unassuming appearance. They’re not at all ugly — and that counts because you’ll get far better performance out of these if they are sitting out on view and not saved because you can’t bear the sight of the items.

There’s only 1 spare Ethernet jack in the rear of the Orbi router, no Ethernet jacks in the rear of the Orbi satellite at all. Neither you have USB ports, either.

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This isn’t simply a cosmetic refresh — together with the size of the devices, the brand new Orbi also downsized the hardware inside to greatly help bring costs down. It’s still a dual-band system that may automatically steer you between connections on the two 2.4 and 5GHz bands as you move about your house, but there isn’t any second 5GHz band reserved for the router to send data backwards and forwards to the number extenders anymore. Bye bye, backhaul.

Turn the items around, and you will also notice that almost all of the excess Ethernet jacks have died, too. There’s only 1 to spare on the router, and none on the extenders. That signifies that you can’t wire the extender back again to the router for faster performance, and when you have devices like smart home hubs, gaming consoles or media streamers that you would like to wire to the router itself, there’s only room for just one of them.

Also gone: USB ports. The brand new Orbi has none whatsoever. That’s OK. The prior model had them, but limited users to the types of printers they might use with them, and much more so in relation to external storage.

Orbi Lite?

Getting started off with the Netgear Orbi is pretty simple. Just plug the router in and wire it to your modem via Ethernet cable, then download the Orbi software to your phone and follow the instructions to get everything ready to go. I had some initial difficulty paring the number extender to the router, but after restarting the software and trying again I had everything ready to go within minutes.

Once everything is established, you can use the application to check on the status of your network, track the devices that are linked to it or modify its settings. The controls cover basics like guest networks and speed tests, but folks considering fine-tuning just how their network operates with advanced functions like device prioritization will need something more robust.

Between that, having less extra Ethernet jacks, and the increased loss of that dedicated backhaul band, I believe Netgear may have been smart to brand this technique as “Orbi Lite” or something similar. Small system also includes simply a pair of antennas, this means it could only support the standard of simultaneous-antenna MU-MIMO connections (2×2). My upgrade pick, the Nest Wifi, includes four antennas and support for 4×4 MU-MIMO connections, this means it could aggregate faster combined speeds for devices just like the MacBook Pro that support such connections.

The Nest Wifi also supports the brand new WPA3 security protocol. The Orbi will not, though it does have a 30-day trial of Netgear Armor, which gives antivirus protection for the devices on your own network and other additional security-minded features. Following the trial, that service costs $70 each year.

Still, I feel that most will be correctly fine with this simplified, stripped down version of the Netgear Orbi because it nets them a mesh network at significantly less than a third the price it did before. The question is, did it match other mesh systems so far as speeds are concerned?

Speedy performance

The dual-band Netgear Orbi system offers a 2.4GHz band with a explained top speed of 400Mbps and a 5GHz band with a explained top speed of 866Mbps. Those will be the same top speeds as the sooner, more costly version of the Netgear Orbi — the difference being that the old Orbi is a tri-band system that adds in another 5GHz band that acts as a dedicated backhaul connection between your router and the satellite, with top speeds as high as 1,733Mbps.

That backhaul doesn’t impact top speeds from the router itself — whenever we took a glance at those by wiring the router to an area server and wirelessly downloading files from it, Orbi clocked in with a high transfer speed of 661.9Mbps far away of 5 feet. The speed fell to 228.2Mbps whenever we tested again far away of 75 feet. Both numbers are faster than we saw from the initial Netgear Orbi in similar tests back 2016.

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