Once upon a time, I had a simple home network system. I only had to support my tablet, mobile phone, and a laptop. That was it. Times have changed though and now I have more than 40 smart devices that also use a WiFi signal. Suddenly, my single router system didn’t make sense any longer. I started looking into mesh network systems with the purpose of ‘spreading the wealth’ so to speak — between all my IoT devices. I’ve tried several different options but finally settled on the Orbi system by Netgear.
Orbi is the first tri-band home WiFi system. It makes sure that you have your home WiFi signal anywhere around your home — inside your home office, outside on your deck, or even in your pool. It’s an advanced system that is specifically designed to work with many devices on the same WiFi network. Other systems use a dual-band or mesh technology which will slow down as you add more devices to it. The third band that Orbi provides is dedicated from your device to the Internet so that you get an uninterrupted signal — even if you add more devices to your network. Because of this, Orbi is not your typical mesh system. Orbi provides better coverage through its high power amplifiers and has faster speeds than first generation mesh systems and range extenders.
Orbi will reach up to 5000 square feet of space and can press through barriers like walls, stairs, and doors. This makes it possible for all types of devices to be used — even outdoors, which until now, has been difficult for me and my household. I typically lose a signal when I step onto my patio, but now, I can get a solid WiFi signal at the back of my yard. We have two Orbi units (router and satellite) and our entire home is easily covered.
Some of the Orbi system specs include:
- Combined WiFi speed: 3,000 Mbps (1733 + 866 + 400Mbps)
- Dedicated Backhaul: 4×4 (1.7Gbps)
- Memory: 4GB flash and 512MB RAM
- Six (6) high-performance antennas
- Gigabit Ethernet ports (Router): 1 WAN and 3 LAN
- Gigabit Ethernet ports (per Satellite): 4 LAN
- Guest WiFi network
- WPA/PSK2 support
- Works with Amazon Alexa
- AC3000 tri-band WiFi
The setup of the Orbi is incredibly simple. In fact, the hardest part is determining where you want to place it. The first thing you want to do is have access to the app either through your mobile phone or through an Internet browser. I chose to connect through orbilogin.com. The site will automatically update as the steps of the startup are completed. Once you have access to either the site or the app, you will need to plug in the router into the modem that pulls in the signal from your ISP. Then you will plug it into power. The unit will power up and pull in the information it needs from your modem. You will see a “successfully connected to Internet” message on the site and you can continue with the setup of the satellite.
You will want to place this unit somewhere you have trouble with getting a strong WiFi signal. We decided on our living room because it’s the farthest point from our office (where the router was setup) and it gives us the best signal in the backyard. Once you have the satellite plugged into power, the two units will automatically start talking to each other. The site setup prompt will let you know that booting up will take 2–3 minutes. The fact that you don’t have to do anything special to connect the two units makes this system a winner in my book. I’ve had so many issues with running back and forth between devices in the past that it was a joy to set these two up on autopilot.
After the satellite is completely connected, you will be asked to setup an admin account and password. Then you will need to set your WiFi network’s name and password. Finally, you will be taken to a page where you can update your firmware. This is highly suggested as it will affect the security of your system. After the firmware is updated you system is up and running.
Now it’s important to note that when you have smart devices in your home, or if you are using HomeKit, you will need to reset it all to work properly with your WiFi network. It may be a hassle, but your system will work so much better once you have it all properly set. We have 250MB service from our ISP, but prior to the Orbi, we were rarely seeing that kind of download speed. In fact, we were hardly breaking 100MB/s. Now, we consistently have what we should as the screenshot below shows.
In my opinion, the Orbi is a clear winner for ‘best mesh network system’. It has a very quick and easy setup, provides a solid, uninterrupted WiFi signal throughout our home and outdoor property, and it hasn’t faltered once since we installed it. To me, that is probably the biggest surprise of all — that we haven’t had to reset the system once since we’ve had it.
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