Home networking has not traditionally been a sexy affair, though more recently, router makers have released spiffy looking models with easy setup routines and whole home coverage. Keeping the modern vibe going, Netgear on Friday announced the release of its Orbi WiFi 6 Mesh System, which is a fancy way of saying it's a bundle of two Wi-Fi 6 wireless routers for broad coverage.
Sleek and relatively attractive (as far as routers go), the Orbi WiFi 6 models utilize mesh networking to offer wireless coverage for large homes, up to 5,000 square feet. While they look identical, one of the units is the main router, and the other is a satellite that you would place in a separate location. The advantage of mesh systems like this one is that users in far corners of the home can enjoy the full speed benefits. Wireless repeaters and extenders, on the other hand, cut the bandwidth in half.
As the name implies, the Orbi WiFi 6 supports the newest Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) wireless standard—it's essentially an upgraded version of the previous Orbi system. Wi-Fi 6 is better suited homes where there are a lot of wireless devices connecting to the router, as is becoming commonplace in today's landscape. It's technically a tri-band solution with a 2.4GH band (1,200Mbps) + 5GHz band (2,400Mbps) + 5GHz band (1,200Mbps), though the 'slower' 5GHz band serves as a direct wireless link for faster data connections between the Orbi router and Orbi satellite.
"Orbi WiFi 6 uses Netgear's patented tri-band mesh technology with a patented dedicated backhaul to provide the ultimate smart home experience with seamless roaming. With 4x4 radios on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz fronthaul, as well as a 5GHz backhaul, Orbi WiFi 6 is designed to cover any home with a host of connected devices. This latest generation WiFi technology is faster than ever before and will support your devices’ connections for years to come, with four times increased capacity for connections as compared to a Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) system," Netgear explains.
Both the main router and satellite have eight internal antennas with "high powered" amplifiers to presumably beam out a strong signal. And for wired connections, there are four gigabit LAN ports on each one. A quad-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz powers each unit. The main router also houses 512MB of NAND flash memory and 1GB of RAM.
All of these features and speed come at a cost—Netgear is taking preorders, with the Orbi WiFi 6 AX6000 system priced at $699.99. It ships on September 30. The router system is backwards compatible with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and earlier standards, though to take full advantage of its capabilities, you will need devices with Wi-Fi 6 adapters. Those are just now starting to show up.