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Netgear Orbi Outdoor Satellite (RBS50Y) review:Netgear's outdoor Wi-Fi extender performs out of this world

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The Good It has superb range and can live outside year round to extend Wi-Fi to your yard, pool or garage. It even has a night-light.

The Bad It can only be used with an Orbi router and it costs more than most of its competitors. Despite security measures from Netgear, someone could steal or break it if you leave it outside.

The Bottom Line If you have the money to spend, and already have an Orbi router, the Orbi Outdoor Satellite will give you great coverage outdoors and speeds as fast as you get inside. Make sure you mount it somewhere safe if you plan to leave it outdoors.

9.0 Overall
  • Setup 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 10

Relaxing in the yard with your tablet is a pleasant way to spend a weekend, but you're going to need a Wi-Fi connection to make it perfect.

The Netgear Orbi Outdoor Satellite ($270 at Amazon) extends your Wi-Fi network outside your home, to the yard, garage or pool. Its performance will surprise you, but you'll have to pay $330 to get one. Plus it only works with a Netgear Orbi router (RBR50, RBR40, RBR20 or SRR60). But in the end, your network will thank you.

Be careful where you put it

The all-white, rectangular prism-shaped Orbi Outdoor is larger than you'd expect, measuring 8.3 by 2.7 by 10.6 inches and weighing more than 3 pounds. It's designed to be mounted outside to a wall or placed on a stand, which is included.

It's weather resistant with an IP56 rating for dust, water and temperature. Netgear advises that you shouldn't submerge it in water, but it will hold up in rain, snow and temperatures between -4 and 122 Fahrenheit. If you live in a colder climate, you may want to mount it inside a garage or just bring it out when you need it.

On the back you'll find the power, reset, sync and LED buttons. It doesn't have Ethernet or USB ports for wired devices, but that's probably a good thing. You wouldn't want just anyone to be able to plug into your network.

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The buttons are weather resistant but for some reason Netgear put the default network name and password right on the extender. Make sure you change them.

Chris Monroe/CNET

When you mount it to a wall or the stand, the buttons are a little hard to see and reach, so make sure you familiarize yourself with them before setting it up. The power cord is 10 feet long, so you have some leeway if you need to reach an outlet. An outdoor extension cord would help as well.

Security is always a concern when leaving a valuable device like this outdoors. The secure mounting latch is held in by just two screws, which anyone could take out in less than 30 seconds. I would definitely recommend putting it somewhere out of sight, up high or not easily accessible. Also, the network name and password are listed on the back, so make sure you change them.

The Orbi Outdoor has an ambient light, which you can turn on and off, dim or set on a timer. It isn't super bright, but it will shed some light on the surrounding area. This will draw attention to the device, but people may think it's just a light. During setup it lights up in different colors (blue, magenta, amber) to tell you the status. But disappointingly you can't select any of these colors when you turn the light on. Netgear said it doesn't have plans to add this feature right now.

Hurry up and wait to set it up

Setting up the Orbi Outdoor was relatively easy, but it did take about 15 minutes. I spent most of that time waiting for it to connect or sync. It did work on the first try though.

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Setup was easy, but I spent most of the time just waiting for it to sync. You can enjoy the colorful light show while you wait though.

Chris Monroe/CNET

You need to have an Orbi router already set up in your home. Orbi mesh systems come with one unit designated as a router and additional satellites, so make sure your router is an RBR50, RBR40, RBR20 or an SRR60 model. You can't use the Orbi Outdoor with any other routers right now, but the good news is that Orbi is one of the best mesh systems out there. You'll have to spend upwards of $700 for a two-piece system plus the outdoor satellite, but in this case, you get what you pay for.

To set up the Orbi Outdoor, plug it in near your main Orbi router. I had no problem from about 15 feet away. I waited 3 minutes for the white light to stop pulsing and turn solid. This meant it's ready to sync.

To do this, I pressed sync first on the Orbi Outdoor and then pressed sync on the Orbi router. Then, things got a little trippy. It turned blue for a minute, magenta for a minute, blue for minute, magenta for 30 seconds, blue for 3 minutes and then turned off. The blue meant it worked. The rest, apparently, was just for fun.

Then I unplugged it, brought it outside and plugged it back in. After a few minutes, I connected my computer to the network and was ready to enjoy fast Wi-Fi in the backyard.

After setup, Netgear automatically disables the sync button on the Orbi Outdoor for security, but you can enable it from the router menu in a browser at orbilogin.com.

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As a bonus, the Orbi Outdoor is also a night-light.

Chris Monroe/CNET

If you haven't used the Orbi system before, the app is easy to use. Once the Orbi Outdoor is connected, a new icon labeled Outdoor Orbi populates the menu. From it, you can see details like hardware version, firmware version, device type, MAC address and IP address. You can also turn the light on or off and dim it. If you want to set the light on a timer, you will need to access the Netgear menu from a browser.

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