Netgear Orbi: Lightning Fast


Netgear's Wi-Fi 5 Orbi system has stayed one of the best Wi-Fi mesh systems because the company has continued to improve the lineup with additional products. Latest to join the line is the Netgear Orbi LBR20 4G LTE router, which can keep your smart home running, even if your normal internet connection falls over.

Effectivel­y a replacemen­t for your existing router, this model can connect to regular broadband but it also has a SIM card slot giving you mobile backup for when you need it.

This kind of backup is increasing­ly needed for two reasons: with more of us working from home, we need to be online at all times and, secondly, a backup means that smart kit can keep working even if the primary broadband goes down.

As the product name hints, this router is based on the existing Orbi RBK20 Orbi, which is the baby of the group, sitting below the RBK50.

It's still a tri-band system, with a dedicated 5GHz channel running at 866Mbps for communicat­ion between satellites. That's half the speed of the RBK50's 1733Mbps communicat­ion channel. If you're going to buy satellites, then, the cheaper RBS20's make more sense, otherwise, you're paying extra to throttle the RBS50 models.

I should also note that you can ditch the wireless communicat­ion completely and use Ethernet to connect satellites together. This can be useful if you live in a particular­ly problemati­c area for wireless or you want to put a satellite further away, such as in a garden office or outbuildin­g.

All of the Wi-Fi satellites in the Orbi Wi-Fi 5 range have the same dual-band client-facing networks, running at 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 866Mbps on the 5GHz band.

Both networks are combined under the same name, and the Orbi will push devices onto the best band based on their capability, speed and range.

Externally, the LBR20 looks much like other products in the range: a curved white box that is taller than it is wide. It's fairly unobtrusiv­e as far as mesh systems go, and you won't find it too hard to place it somewhere.

Spin it around and you'll see where this model differs, with a nano SIM card slot in the back.

You can use the router with any 4G/LTE network, with the modem supporting speeds of up to 1.2Gbps. Just make sure that you've inserted your SIM card before you turn the router on.

Although the router has its own 4G antenna inside, there are two ports for adding external antennas to boost reception, and you could fit internal or external ones.

What might have been a very niche product a couple of years ago feels much more relevant today. If you need to have a bullet-proof internet connection or you simply want a way to keep your smart home kit online without having to fork out for individual cellular plans, the LBR20 comes into its own.

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