Netgear Orbi and Orbi RBR20 review, the mesh system that guarantees uncompromising WiFI coverage
Netgear produces an endless range of well-made consumer products designed for the home environment. One of the most recent Orbi products, a Tri-band WiFI system that promises WiFi coverage throughout the home by creating a fast network with just a few clicks (using a computer or the dedicated app for smartphones and tablets).
Among the products of this family, after the "expansion only" system with two Mesh elements that connect to the router already installed, we also had the opportunity to try the router Orbi RBR20, a system that promises WiFi coverage up to 100 square meters and allows you to later add one or more "satellites" to create your own mesh system.
It starts in this case with an Orbi router (which, depending on the house, may already be sufficient) and it is possible to create a WiFi mesh network for the whole house by adding optional Orbi satellites (sold separately).
Among the peculiarities of these devices, features such as Parental Control that allow you to filter, manage and always stay informed about the online activity of your children. Installation within everyone's reach, the router works with any Internet service provider, allowing you to offer a superior quality WiFi network in any place.
Package contents and doorsInside the package (a sort of cube) we find: the real router, the power supply (12V, 0.6A), an ethernet cable, a CD with the manuals (but not essential for installation) and the guide reference illustrating the basics for installation. The router has an elegant and modern look and can be easily placed in any room and home furniture.
On the back of the router we have a Sync button (for synchronization with the "satellites"), the port for connecting to the Internet, an Ethernet port, the on / off button, the input for the power supply and the tiny hole to reset the device as factory.
Installation and configurationThe simple installation. It can be done from a computer but also from a smartphone or tablet by downloading the Orbi Netgear app from the App Store or Google Play. We did it from a computer and it was a trivial task but the specific app makes everything even easier.
The first thing to do is to connect the power supply and the device to the modem using an ethernet cable (or the cable included in the package). When the device is turned on, the upper part of the device lights up and after a few minutes between the WiFI networks, a network called "ORBI42" is shown. By selecting this network from the connections, you specify the network password (the default one indicated on a removable sticker on the neck instead of the real router). At this point, just start a browser and enter the address 10.0.0.1. to start the configuration procedure.
After accepting the conditions for the use of the services, the system automatically checks the connection and immediately allows you to configure the "satellites". You can skip this step and move on to the next step. After requesting information about the administrator account (username and password to be used), you can customize the network name (SSID) and password. The operation completed and the router configured.
Even if we have an existing router, it is still possible to connect the Orbi router to the network and set the latter in router mode. At any time by typing the router's IP address, you can access a simple interface and activate operations such as intelligent Parental Control, take advantage of features that allow you to find the best position for the satellite, add a satellite with a wall socket, add an external satellite . You can perform tests with the Orbi app and recall the settings from a browser at any time by indicating the IP address of the router.
The system software integrated into the routerThe system configuration and numerous parameters can be set from the usual interface that can be called up from the browser (just type in the IP address of the router and indicate the name and password of the administrator user). The "Basic" section shows the connection status, indications relating to WiFi, the connected devices, whether the parental control mechanisms are active or not, and whether the guest network is activated or not.
From a menu you can access settings related to the internet, wireless (specify SSID and security options), view connected devices, activate the standard Parental control or "Circle with Disney" options by setting time limits, filtering content, setting the time to go to bed and much more. The "guest" network allows you to activate a wifi network for guests, specifying any security options and whether or not to allow each other to view and access the local network.
How to add new "satellites"The manufacturer recommends positioning the Orbi satellite in the central area of the house to obtain the best WiFi coverage. After connecting the first Orbi satellite to a power source and configuring it, you can place the other satellites in a corner of your home away from existing Orbi routers and satellites (but still within the coverage area of the Orbi router and satellite ).
If your home has several floors, it is a good idea to place the Orbi satellite on a different floor than the existing router and satellite. Once the additional satellite is switched on, just wait two minutes (the circular LED of the satellite must turn solid white) and press the Sync button on the rear panel of the Orbi satellite and press "Synchronize" in the configuration screen under the "Add Orbi satellite" section.
Advanced functionsFrom the "Advanced" section of the router you can get information about the router, the internet port (statistics and connection status), the wireless settings and the guest network. You can specify advanced security settings (block, for example, certain sites or services), activate programming features (block connections on certain days or times).
From the "administration" section it is possible to view the log logs, obtain details on the connected devices (IP address, MAC address, connection type, etc.), copy the settings, modify the NTP server and update the firmware. The more experienced have specific features related to the wireless connection (e.g. backhaul with the ability to enable or disable communication between devices in daisy chain mode), activate beamforming (to increase the speed, reliability and range of the WiFI), enable MU -MO, roaming. There are also features for port forwarding / activation, others that allow you to use dynamic DNS, VPN services, specify static paths, remote management features, activate UPnp access and disable IPv6.
Speed and bandwidthThe tri-band WiFi network that powers Orbi supports a dedicated 5 GHz band with a maximum of 1733 Mbps, used exclusively for communication between an Orbi router and satellite. The other two WiFi bands are dedicated to WiFi devices that can be connected to the Orbi network. The performance obtained also depends on the devices that connect to the network, on WiFi interference from other devices and on the construction materials inside the house. In most cases, the manufacturer claims that the following speeds can be expected: up to 400 Mbps for older devices that support 2.4 GHz and 256 QAM and up to 866 Mbps for newer devices that support 5 GHz and 802.11 ac.
How to understand if a router, extender or Orbi system is better?Netgear answers this question by explaining that the choice of the optimal network solution for the home depends on the functions we need. If necessary, coverage of the entire home with a device that is easy to configure and manage, the Orbi WiFi system is the optimal network solution. As the modem is usually placed in a corner of the house, complete coverage is rarely obtained. The Orbi WiFi system does not just offer complete coverage of the house, but has only one network name (SSID), which allows you to move anywhere without having to change the network.
If you want a network solution that offers fast WiFi for gaming and streaming video playback, an advanced router (such as the D7000 or the Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 we have already talked about) is the ideal network solution can provide WiFi coverage up to 185 square meters. If you have a good quality WiFi router and just want to extend its coverage, a range extender is the optimal network solution. Range extenders offer good value for money and work well in smaller single family homes and apartments. Range extenders are also practical for business owners who want to have a second network for customers to use. In addition to the increased security of a separate customer network, network congestion is avoided when multiple devices are connected.
Compatibility with AirPort Extreme, AirPort Time Capsule and AirPort ExpressIf you already have Apple Airports, you can connect them to the Orbi router and satellite using an Ethernet cable. You need to have a free LAN port on the router or satellite to connect. It is not necessary to set AirPort Extreme, AirPort Time Capsule and AirPort Express in bridge mode for them to work properly with the Orbi WiFi system.
How to choose between the various Orbi systems availableOn its website, Netgear provides a configurator; specifying the size of the house (in square meters), number of floors and required speed, the system suitable for us is suggested. To find the Orbi WiFi system that best suits your needs, you just need to know the coverage of your home based on square meters and the quantity or types of doors you need. For example, for a house of about 350 m, with the need for Ethernet ports in a study or in a playroom, a mini router and a mini satellite (RBK40) Orbi the most suitable WiFi system.
Conclusions an elegant, clean, essential product, very easy to install and complete with everything you could wish for. In all the tests that we have performed the device has kept its promises. The deck has always been excellent and even with a single satellite in a house of about 250 square meters on two floors we have not noticed any shaded areas. The manufacturer claims that it is possible to cover up to 350 square meters from the router + satellite combination, but much depends on the thickness of ceilings, partitions and other elements.
We have performed tests from Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, smartphones of other brands and regardless of proximity to Netgear devices, the performances have always been uniform, with ping oscillating between the various environments between 28 and 31 ms. A defect of this product that starting to add elements (main router and satellites) the cost begins to rise excessively.
It is also true that there is probably nothing better on the market in terms of simplicity of configuration, power, available management functionality, elegance. Netgear offers various solutions (with kits from 1 to 3 units) and prices ranging from 199.00 to almost 600 euros. The high price but it is money well spent that will make you forget the problems you have always had with the network.
Immediate use, simplicity of configuration, abundance of functionality
Perfect for increasing the signal in those environments where a traditional router has difficulty covering all areas
Scalable solution (it is possible to add "satellites" of various ranges and various costs to further increase the coverage range)
Nice looking product with design that does not clash in any environment
Perfect for multi-storey homes / offices or large rooms
The modem is not integrated and you need to place it side by side
Costs rise by adding more satellite units
Orbi RBR20 costs 148 Euro including VATto. Below you will find the current prices for this model and some expansion configurations that can manage different spaces. The Orbi system also has Mesh expansions for the exterior and a basic and satellite system made with Harman Kardon and compatible with Alexa.
Models with Speaker and Alexa (basic model and expansion)
Single and kit expansion models
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