Netgear’s Orbi family of mesh Wi-Fi routers took the market by storm a few years ago, providing excellent coverage for larger homes, built-in GbE ports for connected wired devices, and a dedicated backhaul connection for communicating between the router and its satellite(s). However, those Orbi systems can be quite expensive, with the latest Wi-Fi 6 flagship product retailing at $700.
For those that like the convenience and coverage of mesh routers, but don’t want to fork over the big bucks, Netgear has introduced the new Orbi Dual Band Mesh WiFi System (RBK12). The first thing that you’ll notice is that Netgear has introduced a brand-new design with this entry-level system, which differs from the towering, organic aesthetic of its more expensive siblings. Instead, this new system features a diminutive cube-like base router and satellites with a diamond-like pattern on top.
Netgear says that the RBK12 offers total combined speeds of 1.2Gbps, while the router features two GbE ports (one for a LAN device, and one for WAN). All of the other features that you’ve come to expect from Orbi products are there including the easy to use app for configuring and monitoring your network, 2.4GHz/5GHz band Wi-Fi 5 compatibility/auto-handoff, support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant smart home integration and smart parental controls.
Netgear is offering the RBK12 in a two-pack (one router, one satellite) for $129, while the a three-pack (one router, two satellites) will set you back $229. The former is enough to cover a 3,000 square foot home, while the latter will cover up to 4,500 square feet. If you live in a huge McMansion, a four-pack (one router, three satellites) runs $299.
Netgear has been facing increasing competition in this space, especially from Amazon, which just launched an updated Eero mesh Wi-Fi system that is available for $249 in a three-pack. In addition, Google is rumored to launch a new Nest Wi-Fi 6 mesh router tomorrow with integrated Google Home/Google Assistant functionality.