Mesh Router: Netgear Orbi

I wanted to love the Netgear Orbi system. I really did. But, alas, it was not meant to be.  It’s not a bad system, by any means. I was just not as impressed as I had hoped.
router_single_bigFirst, the positives:

1. Impressive speed and wifi coverage. If that’s all you’re looking for, then the Orbi is a strong contender.
2. Relatively attractive appearance.
3. MU-MIMO ability.
4. USB port and a few LAN ports.
5. Print server function.
6. The satellite unit does make a big difference in terms of signal strength in areas of the house further from the primary router.
The negatives:

1. No guest network. Seriously? I had a hard time believing this was correct, but that’s what the setup software said, and there was no way to override or change it (EDIT to add: Netgear reached out to me after the initial review and then updated the software to include a guest network).
2. Horrendous management app and software. I’ve used a lot of modems in my day. The Netgear app and UI is far behind other top routers, IMO.
3. Setup process is automated and had to be restarted several times before it actually worked. Even registration didn’t work. I would have preferred a manual setup option.
The lack of flexibility in terms of secondary networks is a killer for me. I really did not think there were wireless routers being sold in 2016 that could not accommodate a guest network. Yet, the Netgear is a new product in a new niche – the home mesh network. The idea seems to have a lot of merit, but this attempt isn’t worth the price, IMO.
My normal router is a Linksys EA9500. I must admit the signal strength for the Netgear exceeded the Linksys, and both were equal in terms of speed. That’s saying something, because the Linksys is the best router I’ve ever used.
That’s part of why I think the home mesh network idea has merit.
Orbi is a good system, but the Netgear was not good enough to make me want to switch. Improve the UI, add a few more options, and maybe I’d reconsider.
Final: Like
Note: The Orbi system was provided to me free of charge to review by Best Buy and Netgear.
UPDATE 1/6/18 – Netgear responded to my initial review and indicated a guest network capacity was in the works. I’m happy to report the Orbi now supports a useful guest netowrk. Unfortunately, the management app is still behind everyone else, but if you can live with that, it’s an excellent system.

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