Here's what we thought of the Netgear Orbi.
I’m a tree-changer. Tired of relentless traffic jams, over-priced food and coffee and a public transport system about as reliable as a politician’s promise, I bit the bullet and headed semi-rural – 45 minutes striking distance of Melbourne.
There are some sacrifices to make when considering such a move – Friday night drinks are no longer an option, the commute means earlier mornings and later evenings, and then there’s the Internet… the cheap city deals simply don’t exist.
But the most significant problem lay in the connectivity of the home. The modem/router set-up I had was perfect for a two-bed city apartment. However, it wasn’t until I put everything together in the new, substantially larger place, that I realised I had a problem; the Wi-Fi signal. With close to 20 devices connected to the Internet all over the house, dead zones negated essential ‘sanctuary reading’ places like the toilet and the garage.
I’d had a Netgear Orbi under my desk in the office for a while, waiting for a spare afternoon to put it together and review. That time had come. The Orbi is a two-piece, sleekly designed system consisting of a router and satellite component that utilises tri-band mesh networking technology. In a nutshell, it ensures that you have full coverage and optimum speeds wherever you are, for a house up to 370 square metres in size. Think of it as Wi-Fi on steroids.
As with all of the Netgear products we’ve reviewed, setting up Orbi requires very little technical nous. The router connects directly to your Internet connection, although you need to use your existing modem; the Orbi doesn’t feature one. You simply place the satellite in the centre of the house, plug in the mains, download the app, follow the prompts and you’re ready to go in less than five minutes. Different coloured lights on the rim of each device tell the user whether the signal is strong enough and when the two have paired.
On the rear of the router are three Gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB 2.0 for an external hard drive/printer. The satellite is similar and has four LAN ports for four wired devices.
Walking from one end of the 33 square house to the other with an iPad in hand, there wasn’t a dead zone to be found anywhere, including prior problem areas. I could even get a strong signal 20 metres down the road.
Here at STACK, we are sent regular digital streams of films we need to review. I’d previously tried streaming Hacksaw Ridge but persistent buffering forced me to give up on it. Different story with Orbi engaged – it played fine. All the games consoles – situated throughout the house wherever a TV hangs – experienced no drop in performance. Lag issues had existed in the bedroom playing FIFA, but there has been no problems since; the signal has stayed consistent right across the board since the installation.
Orbi does come with a fairly hefty price tag attached, but you have to weigh up the value it brings to your connected home. In a house where just about everything bar the dog is hooked up to the Internet, there really is no substitute for a stable, fast, lag and buffer-free connection.
I rarely get excited about the tech that I review, but I did here. Orbi has provided an effortless solution the whole household is benefitting from. Now I’ve just got to work out how I’m going to keep it.