Stuck mostly at home as most people are these days, one need that comes up is good quality Wi-Fi.
While most ISPs provide good bandwidth, folks working from home have often complained about bad speeds and poor coverage. It usually boils down to an incorrectly setup Wi-Fi network. The issue is most Wi-Fi routers are a pain to setup and tweak, and to get the best performance you need a network wizard.
Enter Orbi. A simple router that takes a few minutes to install, almost no technical skills or knowledge required, and solves the issue of coverage and speeds. Almost unbelievable right? The Orbi is a mesh Wi-Fi system from Netgear. The model we received for review is the RBK752 which includes a router, which is the main device, and a satellite used to extend the network.
The RBK752 is a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 (AX4200) mesh system capable of high-speeds. Netgear claims upto 4.2 Gbps. In our tests, we got a maximum of 363 Mbps but that is more due to the maximum bandwidth provided by our ISP. Some of these speeds are also reserved for a dedicated back-haul between the router and the satellite so that it does not deprive devices of any bandwidth.
Setting up the Orbi is as simple as unboxing it, and plugging it into the wall and the WAN port connected to your provider’s router/modem. After that all you do is download the app and a setup wizard takes over. Once the router is set up, you switch on the satellite and it is detected by the app when it is in range. In terms of indicators and lights, it does not have too many, just one band towards the bottom of the device which changes colours to indicate the state. If it is white then all is good, if you get a flashing magenta then you are out of range and need to move the satellite closer to the router.
The router also has three additional LAN ports for devices that you may want to connect via a wire directly, good for adding a desktop or a smart TV. The satellite also has two LAN ports which can be used to daisy-chain satellites to the router for extended coverage. The wired back-haul does require the router and satellite to first connect via Wi-Fi and for the satellite to be in range. We found the range to be about 85 feet. It worked well on the same floor, but moving to a different floor caused the satellite to remain out of range.
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The power of the Orbi is in its app. The app lets you manage all settings that you need to get things working just the way you want. Much like enterprise grade Wi-Fi setups, the Orbi creates a single SSID for both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz frequency range. This eliminates having to connect devices to a specific frequency since they now connect optimally. Roaming around in your coverage area you will also find lesser blind spots and seamless connectivity on calls.
All in the app
The app also has some useful diagnostic tools such as a Wi-Fi analyser which shows the signal from the range of “not good” all the way to “amazing”; for those looking for the technical details, that would be from -95 dBm to -17 dBm. This is very useful for selecting the placement of the satellite unit as once you are in the range from “good” to “very good” it would be the perfect spot to place the unit. The analyser also shows useful information on other routers in the area, the channels in use, and the best channel to set for your devices. A speed test is also thrown in for good measure, and it maintains a record of tests made.
The RBK752 supports up to 40 devices; our network had approximately 31 devices and all seemed to work without any problems.
If you are looking for a stable Wi-Fi setup at home which requires little to no maintenance then the Orbi is a very good choice. Overall, the Orbi has an easy setup, a good feature set, and seamless operations. But the units are large, have a low range, and the wired back-haul requires a wireless connection. This setup costs ₹35,499.