What kind of device are you reading this review on? Unless you are using binoculars to read the screen of your neighbour's laptop (creepy) the chances are you're on a computer or phone connected to your home WiFi network. But what else is currently connected to that network, sapping the speed from you? If you have a family or share your connection, you'll be constantly competing for bandwith. The Netgear Orbi could help.
Just like the recently reviewed Devolo Gigagate, the Netgear Orbi consists of two identical looking units. One connects to your existing router to pick up the internet signal, and then projects that via tri-band broadcast to the other, which is placed in a central location in your home. The two unit system creates one single network, so no matter which one you are connecting a device to across your home, it will all happen seamlessly and smoothly. Hopefully.
For the a start, the Netgear Orbi units are pretty. They look like porcelain vases into which you could pop some flowers. Don't, though. They are a creamy white and stand upright, meaning that they can easily be tucked away out of sight, or popped on the edge of a table or shelf. But, as network devices go, these blend in really well.
Setting Orbi up is as simple as making that initial connection to your existing internet. Everything can then be handled by the Netgear app, where you can add the satellite unit, check positions and speeds, and also add other devices, should you wish.
Additional units, however, were something we definitely didn't need. The the basic two that come in the set blanketed Test Pit Towers with a strong and reliable signal like no other WiFi device has previously. Speeds will only ever be as fast as you can get from your ISP, but the Orbi handles those speeds wisely, allowing more devices to connect without seeming to slow the whole network down. The coverage was huge, projecting the network much farther than the WiFi router alone, and waaaaay farther than we needed. We could still connect to it and happily stream YouTube from several doors down the road.
The real test for any home network solution – for us at least – is how it manages uploads. As we create regular YouTube content, uploading what can be 3GB plus files to YouTube can essentially shut everything else down, grinding all other connections to a halt. However, with the Netgear Orbi in operation, the laptop doing the uploading seemed to have its own dedicated link to the internet, while all other devices continued as normal.
So pretty incredible... but here's the rub. The Netgear Orbi will set you back a not inconsiderable £370. Yep. Bear in mind that the Devolo Gigagate, a pair of devices that do essentially the same thing (albeit a little less beefier) is about half of that. Yes, the Orbi looks a lot nicer, and seems to project a larger network, but the price is just a major bugbear for us. If you can afford it and like the stylings, go for it... if you can't (or don't want to) there are cheaper options out there for you.