NETGEAR’S NEW ORBI IS SLIMMER, CHEAPER, BET­TER.

Fol­low­ing on from its most-re­cent at­tempt at selling cus­tomers on ‘life­style router’ ear­lier this year, Netgear have re­turned the Orbi brand to the mar­ket once again with the slimmer, al­beit less com­pre­hen­sive, RBK30 TriBand Wi-Fi Sys­tem.

SmartHouse - - CONTENTS - Writ­ten by Fer­gus Hal­l­i­day

Ba­si­cally, the RBK30 is a more af­ford­able ver­sion of the RBK50 pre­vi­ously of­fered. Be­tween those two and the RBK40, there's now three solid op­tions avail­able – with cus­tomers able to choose the pack­age that best suits their home.

At a price-point of $499, the pack­age pairs up an AC2200 router and wallplug-pow­ered satel­lite unit.

Netgear say the pair come ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing fast, re­li­able Wi-Fi to an area of up to 200 square me­ters. The pitch here is that this new of­fer­ing will make the Orbi a bet­ter fit for those with smaller homes and act as a more af­ford­able start­ing point for the range (which can be ex­panded later down the line).

If you're will­ing to buy into this idea, and have the cash to do so, the Orbi RBK40 seems like a good so­lu­tion to the ques­tion of home Wi-Fi. Netgear's web­site even in­di­cates it'll be get­ting Alexa sup­port later down the line. We found it pro­vided a con­nec­tion a lit­tle slower than our X10 router did but lived up to its rep­u­ta­tion when it change to re­li­a­bil­ity and range for the most part.

The main Orbi unit boards four high­per­for­mance an­ten­nas, each with their own am­pli­fier and ‘ded­i­cated back­haul tech­nol­ogy'. It also boasts MU-MIMO ca­pa­bil­i­ties across both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands. Netgear say it's equipped to of­fer max speeds up to up to 800mbs or so, de­pen­dent on your con­nec­tion.

In terms of aes­thet­ics and de­sign, there's lit­tle sep­a­rat­ing the RBK30 from its larger cousin. Both the router and its satel­lite carry the same curved, ap­peal­ing sen­si­bil­i­ties. Those look­ing for them are likely to find plenty of echoes from the Ap­ple school of de­sign here.

Where other net­work­ing brands have sim­ply set­tled for mak­ing ugly routers smaller, Netgear have re­ally taken the time to craft that looks nice on its own mer­its with­out draw­ing too much at­ten­tion to it­self. Once setup, the Orbi has a rare abil­ity to blend into al­most any en­vi­ron­ment.

What's more, Netgear have been able to suc­cess­fully marry this sense of style to the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of net­work­ing your home. If you ever need to check the con­nec­tion strength be­tween the Orbi and its satel­lite, you need only tap the ‘sync' but­ton on the for­mer and look for the ring LED on the lat­ter. A bright blue means your con­nec­tion is good, a faded am­ber means it's OK and a mel­low ma­genta the two units fail to con­nect. Think­ing back on it, the Orbi is ac­tu­ally kind of re­lax­ing to deal with in a way that routers of­ten aren't – not to men­tion a re­fresh­ing change of pace when com­pared to the mil­i­taris­tic and con­fronta­tional aes­thet­ics of Netgear's gam­ing gear.

The Orbi does re­quire an ex­ist­ing mo­dem or gate­way, as it's not a router-mo­dem – just a router. Al­though it's by no means claim­ing or pre­tend­ing to be the for­mer, this re­al­ity does run a lit­tle against the grain of the prod­uct's po­si­tion­ing as a com­pre­hen­sive home Wi-Fi so­lu­tion. While I don't want to sug­gest that the fact that the Orbi isn't a router-mo­dem should be held against it, it's re­liance on a mo­dem or gate­way means that it's a prod­uct that the cus­tomer has to buy or own a seper­ate sec­ond prod­uct in or­der to ac­tu­ally use.

CON­CLU­SION

Taken as a whole, the Orbi RBK30 is a re­ally easy prod­uct to rec­om­mend even if there are plenty of cheaper Wi-Fi routers out there. If you want to bring your home on­line in style and (or have been hold­ing off on the Orbi due to the price) are happy to work with the lim­i­ta­tions that satel­lite unit has it's a solid choice.

The Orbi RBK30 is avail­able through JB HiFi and Har­vey-Nor­man at an RRP of $499.

Rat­ing 8/10

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