Netgear leverages tri band in its first home mesh Orbi Wi-Fi System

The system includes two tri-band devices, one router and one satellite unit, that connect to each other using a dedicated Wi-Fi band.

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
2 min read
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The satellite unit of an Orbi Wi-Fi System.


Ever since the debut of the Eero, a number of competitors have introduced similar devices, like the Luma or the Almond 3. Today Netgear joined this home mesh network movement with an announcement of its own: the Orbi Wi-Fi System that's slated to be available next month for $400.

The Orbi system includes two devices, a router and a satellite wireless extender. The two come pre-paired out of the box. You connect the router to an internet source such as a cable modem, then place the Orbi satellite at the center of the home -- and that's it. Now your home is covered with Wi-Fi fast enough to deliver high-speed internet.

Basically, like all home mesh systems, the satellite unit connects to the router's Wi-Fi network wirelessly, then extends that Wi-Fi network further using its own Wi-Fi broadcaster.

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What makes the Orbi Wi-Fi System different, however, according to Netgear, is that it leverages a tri-band setup. This allows the two units to communicate using one band, then the satellite unit can use its other two bands to extend the Wi-Fi network. In theory, this helps eliminate the signal loss that always happens if the extender uses the same band for both receiving and extending Wi-Fi signals.

Though this is a tri-band system (which Netgear says has a combined Wi-Fi bandwidth of 3,000Mbps), the Orbi will deliver a only single Wi-Fi network. In other words, you will see only one Wi-Fi name, instead of three.

Netgear says the band that's used to connect the two devices is a dedicated 5GHz 802.11ac band that has a top speed of 1.7Gbps, and that you won't need to figure out where to best put the satellite unit as long as it's placed at the center of your home. In reality, a 5GHz band has relatively short range, so depending on how large your home is -- as with all Wi-Fi extenders -- finding the right spot to place the satellite unit for the best performance can still be tricky.

Netgear claims that the Orbi system can cover a home of about 4,000 square feet. The company says that by the end of the year, it will release Orbi systems that include more than two units as well as add-on units that you can use to expand an existing system, to further extend your Wi-Fi coverage.

To find out how the new Orbi Wi-Fi System stacks up against the Eero, check back next month for its full review.

Watch this: The Eero system does Wi-Fi like nothin' you've seen