Just when you were starting to think about upgrading to a Wi-Fi 6 router, Wi-Fi 6E is here. And it is expensive. Netgear today announced its latest entry into the 6E Foray, the Orbi Quad-B and Mesh WiFi 6E RBKE960 series. This is the first quad-band 6E Wi-Fi mesh offering, but not the first 6E Wi-Fi mesh router (the Linksys Atlas Max 6E at $ 1,200 took home this honor earlier this year). Featuring one 2.4 GHz band, two 5 GHz bands, and an all-new 6 GHz band, this $ 1,500 system also supports four different out-of-the-box networks, including one designed exclusively for your customers. insecure smart home devices. And if that doesn’t get you excited, they’re also releasing a limited edition color… black.
This incredibly expensive setup ($ 500 more than Orbi’s already expensive tri-band Wi-Fi 6 option) supports multi-gigabit internet. Netgear claims that even if your home doesn’t have a lot of 6E Wi-Fi clients (which it doesn’t), you will see an increase in speeds of up to 30% due to the large number of radios crammed together ( each band has 4 x 4 MIMO support and the system is rated AXE110000), as well as improved antenna designs. This thing is stacked. It is also big.
“It’s a complex product and therefore difficult to fit all of this technology into a smaller package,” Ravindra Bhilave, director of product management at Netgear, told me in a pre-announcement briefing. Where rivals such as Nest and Eero have more understated and compact designs, Netgear sticks to Orbi’s boisterous and proud look. At one point, Netgear even decided to go back in the process of changing the design of the router by releasing a black version. I’ve clearly wasted countless hours complaining that black (and, to be fair, white) plastic boxes don’t look good in most homes.
But hey – if this thing can do whatever it says and keep my son’s xbox online while i zoom in, hubby is watching Squid game on Netflix, and my girl is banging Recording room on the Oculus, it could be neon purple for whatever I want. Wi-Fi is the backbone of the smart home, and any upgrades are generally appreciated.
The ability to set up a separate smart home network on this Orbi system is also an intriguing proposition, although how it will actually be executed remains to be seen. Netgear tells me that the transition between networks will be “seamless”. So if your phone is connected to the normal network and you try to control devices on the smart home network, there will be no problem. This is a problem that people encounter when trying to use a guest network as a smart home network, as guest networks are designed to be isolated from everything else, which can lead to communication issues. Netgear also pointed out that smart home devices are often “not compatible with band management,” and this dedicated network can ensure that devices remain on a single band.
Orbi is consistently rated highly for its reliability and performance, even though it doesn’t blend in with the home decor as well as a Plume or offer the dual function of a smart speaker like a Nest or a hub. smart home like Eero can. But do you need 6E Wi-Fi? Do you need to spend $ 1,500 for better Wi-Fi? Not now, no. But in a few years you might want to have some. So if you are in the market for a new router, this might be worth considering.
The reason is that Wi-Fi 6E brings a whole new band – 6 GHz. This provides more spectrum to handle multi-gigabit speeds on compatible phones and laptops (a handful of which currently support it). There’s a lot more to love about Wi-Fi 6 (read our in-depth explanation for all the details), and the Orbi system even has its own 6E network, which you can configure just for these devices. Netgear chose not to use 6 GHz as a dedicated backhaul, as Linksys did with limited success based on our early testing. Instead, it uses the second 5 GHz band. Bhilave says the team made this choice because 5 GHz has a better range than 6.
Other specs include an upgraded WAN port (for your inbound internet connection) that now supports up to 10 gigabit, an additional 2.5 gigabit port on the router, as well as three more Ethernet ports on each device, so you can wire all your TVs. Satellites also support wired backhaul like other Orbi systems. Netgear says its three-pack covers up to 9,000 square feet and you can expand it further for $ 599 per satellite. The Orbi Quad-Band Mesh WiFi 6E RBKE963 system can be pre-ordered today in the US and UK on Netgear.com and is available in other regions when WiFi 6E is approved.
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