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Netgear Orbi Outdoor Satellite thinks outside the home

The Orbi Outdoor Satellite is an expensive, weather-resistant way of extending Wi-Fi outside your home, up to 2,500 square feet.

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Netgear

Netgear is giving you more Wi-Fi freedom with its new Orbi Outdoor Satellite (model RBS50Y). It's a weather-resistant extender for your current Orbi mesh system that increases Wi-Fi range an extra 2,500 square feet, out to your garage, pool, front porch or yard. While there aren't many competing outdoor router-extenders out right now, you can definitely find cheaper options than the Orbi Outdoor Satellite and its $330 price tag -- like the TP-Link CPE510, for under $100.

You will get a lot for your money though. The AC3000 Orbi satellite features a 2.4GHz band (400Mbps), a 5GHz band (867Mbps) and an extra 5GHz backhaul channel that connects with an indoor Orbi system at 1,733Mbps. That's right, this outdoor extender only works with current Orbi (RBR50, RBR40, RBR20) and Orbi Pro (SRR60) models. That's nearly a $700 total investment if you don't already have an Orbi.

The Orbi Outdoor Satellite is super convenient, but probably not worth the substantial investment right now, unless you absolutely need to have an extender outside. A router with good range like the Asus RT-AC86U and a quality extender will cost you half the price and give you some outdoor coverage.

Extend your network outdoors, securely

The Orbi Outdoor Satellite looks a little boxy, with an upright, all-white rectangular design, slightly different than other Orbi models, which have a more curvy visual appeal. You probably don't want it to draw too much attention anyway, for both aesthetic and security reasons. Netgear did say that it comes with a secure mounting latch, but I still wouldn't leave it in plain view.

The lack of any LAN ports is probably for the best. You don't want just anyone to be able to plug into your network, and you're probably not using your old desktop computer outside. Most outdoor and mobile devices like cameras and speakers should work just fine via Wi-Fi.

The satellite is weather resistant with its IP56 rating for dust, water and temperature. You cannot submerge it in water but it can withstand rain, snow and temperatures from -4 to 122 Fahrenheit. That sounds sufficient, but a very cold winter day or ice could complicate things.

You can also mount the device on a stand, which makes it very portable if you just want to bring it out when you need it. It does require a power outlet, so unless you use a long power cord, you're going to need to keep it in your garage or near the side of your house.

orbi-outdoor-1

The Orbi Outdoor Satellite can be mounted on a wall or placed on a stand for easy mobility.

Netgear

The coolest design feature is its ambient night light. Yes, it's just a regular white light, but it gives the Orbi Outdoor Satellite some extra usefulness. You can adjust the brightness or turn it on and off with the Orbi mobile app.

Fast enough, for now

The dedicated backhaul channel uses four streams on 5GHz to help extend your Wi-Fi without speed loss. Surfing the internet and streaming video shouldn't seem much different from your regular indoor network. Seamless roaming with a redundant network name also allows you to connect to any satellite without any noticeable lag or disconnection.

The AC3000 rating is impressive, but half of that is your dedicated backhaul channel, which is how your network extends out from inside your home. Your regular 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands max out at 400Mbps and 867Mbps, respectively. Each one has 2x2 antennas transmitting and receiving up to two streams. This setup limits your bandwidth, depending on the capabilities of the device you are using, but your internet connection ultimately will decide your max speed.

For now, unless you have fiber internet, you shouldn't see much of a difference indoors or out with your Orbi system. If you start connecting a lot of devices -- let's say when friends are over, even if they're connected to your guest Wi-Fi -- that could change quickly.

Same Orbi app, now also a light switch

You can connect the Orbi Outdoor Satellite to your network easily by pushing the WPS button on the device or via the Orbi app. You will need to connect the outdoor satellite wirelessly to an indoor Orbi router that's wired to your modem. Netgear uses FastLane3 technology, which refers to tri-band Wi-Fi, a dedicated backhaul channel for less network congestion and its amplified antennas.

The app is the same one you're already using with your current Orbi system, which includes a speed test, traffic meter and Netgear support. You can use the app to control the Orbi Outdoor Satellite by turning it on or off, setting it with a timer and adjusting the ambient light brightness. The app seems limited, but it is convenient that your whole system is controllable from a single app.

Should you buy one?

The Orbi Outdoor Satellite is very accommodating when you want to extend your Wi-Fi outdoors, but it comes at a price. Since you can't use it with anything but an Orbi system, be prepared to shell out big bucks for Netgear's weather-resistant Wi-Fi extender. If you don't already have an Orbi mesh system, this definitely isn't for you. If you do have an Orbi and $330 to burn, you'll get exactly what you expect from a tri-band Wi-Fi extender, plus a nightlight.

Orbi Outdoor Satellite specs

Brand Netgear Orbi Model RBS50Y
IEEE 802.11 Standard a/b/g/n/ac Class AC3000
Speed (Mbps) 3,000 (400+867+1,733) CPU Processor Quad core 710MHz
Frequency Tri band (2.4GHz, 2x5GHz) RAM Memory 512MB
Ethernet Ports 0 Flash Memory 256MB
USB Ports 0 Guest Wi-Fi Yes
Antennas 4 internal Parental Controls Yes
Spatial Streams 2 (2.4GHz+5GHz); 4 (5GHz) MU-MIMO Yes
Modulation 256-QAM 5/6 Beamforming Yes
Security WPA/WPA2-PSK, WPS, IP56 compliant for weather Setup App or browser
Size (inches) 8.3x2.7x10.6 Weight (lbs) 2.94

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