Netgear Offers $400 System to Combat Poor WiFi

John Lister's picture

Netgear is launching its own take on a multi-router system in order to improve WiFi across an entire home. It's not a new idea, but Netgear says its tweaks should give it a significant edge over rival setups.

The logic of Netgear's Orbi and similar systems is that a single wireless router isn't always enough to cover an entire home adequately. Wireless signals can be weakened by passing through walls and floors, as well as being affected by metal such as pipe work. While that problem has always existed, it's become more noticeable as demand for high-bandwidth activity such as streaming video and playing online games has increased.

The most common existing solution is a multi-unit device consisting of a main router (plugged into a modem) and two small relay units which can be placed around the home to pick up and rebroadcast the signal to keep it strong.

Extra Radio Maintains Full Speed

The Netgear Orbi system is different than similar setups. That's because it consists of a main router and a single relay unit that's much larger and, according to Netgear, able to pass on a stronger signal than those used by rivals. One downside here is that the Orbi relay unit is harder to place than the rival units in locations such as bedrooms or upstairs hallways, while still being conspicuous.

The main technical difference is that where most modern wireless routers use two radios to broadcast signals (operating at 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequencies), Orbi has a third radio that also broadcasts at 5Ghz. This third radio is used exclusively for passing data between the router and relay unit, rather than to or from computers and other devices. (Source: venturebeat.com)

Netgear Orbi System Goes For $400

The idea here is that there's no room to lose data and that in practical terms, connecting to the relay unit should give a device exactly the same speed and reliability as it would get connecting directly to the main router. According to Netgear, this should give consistent coverage across a 4,000 square foot home, including back yard space. It hasn't given precise figures, but claims that the speed advantage over rival systems gets bigger the more devices are connected.

The solution doesn't come cheap, however, as Orbi will sell for $400. That's more than rival systems and much more than a standard router, so many users may want to see proof of the speeds in action before they consider it a worthwhile investment. (Source: theverge.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Do you have problems getting good WiFi coverage around your home? Have you ever used additional equipment designed to improve matters? Would you be willing to pay $400 for a system that really did solve the problem?

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Comments

Dennis Faas's picture

$400 is an insane amount of money to spend on a multi-router system. If one device breaks, it will probably cost an arm and a leg to replace - and that's if parts are still available to consumers. Alternatively, you can buy multiple, cheap TP-Link routers from Amazon for $20 each, and either set them up as switches (wired) on the same network, or set them up as a wireless relay (wireless bridge) to relay signals. If one router dies, you replace it and it won't break the bank. That would be the difference between spending $400 on a multi-router system (assuming 3 routers) vs $60 for the same, though the latter requires some configuration.

matt_2058's picture

I agree completely. Tech changes quickly, so unless the $400 solution is a commercial product...with a commercial-type lifecycle... it's not worth it. There are $30 units that are multi-use and easily configured, such as the Edimax BR-6208AC. Complicated stringing of routers is not needed unless you are re-using old equipment or just like a challenge sometimes.

When the devices are made to be a AP or repeater, they tend to hold settings better. Many times I had to re-configure hacked units after a power outage.

guitardogg's picture

As Dennis mentioned above, there is a cheaper and better way. Using ethernet over powerline adapters, I am able to put low-cost wireless access points, or a wired connection, anywhere I have an AC plug. I'm getting giga-bit ethernet. It was cheap and works very well!

MADMAN005's picture

There is a price tag that seems rather steep. I do not know if it offers anything other than a secondary device(i.e. VPN, extra firewall, LAN ports, USB Printing...). I dont agree with it not being inconspicuous I've looked up their product it doesn't look bad. The device is a sleek white box which could be put behind a TV or lamp. I personally will run hardwire through my house to a secodary router in the basement some may think it's silly but if you have the extra equipment it wont matter. I have a brick house which kills Wifi 2.4 and 5 signals so I will eventually have to run a secondary AP.

ecash's picture

1. If you have basement or attic room, and running Cables ISNT a problem.. Why use wireless to interconnect?? Wired connections can get you 1000mbps EACH NODE and the modem..then goto wireless IF YOU NEED IT..
2. Modem connections are GENERALLY at an OUTSIDE WALL, unless you move them to a central location..
3. HOW MANY CONNECTIONS DO YOU NEED? Standard Wireless, at 300/450 mbps, 2 band, can cover 30x30 area and Can go farther..esp with external antennas.. 4 wireless connections isnt a problem..
4.Wireless PROTECTION..its funny that these company ALWAYS stick with certain common STANDARDS...if they would go Off of this IDEA, you could run them with different freq, and different Protocols, and FASTER..but you would need a card or dongle for your Laptop or desktop.. There is NOT reason to Stay in the DESIGNATED protocols or freq, on your OWN PROPERTY..
5. in the END, all your bandwidth to the internet is restricted by the modem..4-6 people/devices ALL working at the same time EVEN at 150mbps is going to Throttle each other.. And paying for FASTER connections, just to watch TV, is abit Stupid.. AND Im not even talking about CAPS on the service..TRY to get UNRESTRICTED/NO CAP internet, is going to CORT MONEY...
6. LAN/Local networking would be great..

I agree..I love picking things apart..A modem, A router and a few wired Hubs you can cover a LARGE area..Multi floors, or what ever..ALLOT CHEAPER..