Ignore Netgear’s advertising: Its Orbi Wi-Fi router is not a mesh network system. Orbi satellites don’t communicate with each other, they send and receive data to and from the Orbi router only. In networking parlance, that is a hub-and-spoke system, not a mesh. But mesh networking is what has everyone so excited this year, so that’s how Netgear is billing the Orbi. The company is doing itself a disservice: The Orbi might be the best interior-decorator-approved router on the market.
About that industrial design: The Orbi is not nearly as small or unobtrusive as the Eero, Google Wi-Fi, or Linksys Velop. Those first two products strike a very low profile, and the Velop looks like a bud vase. A hollowed-out Orbi is big enough hold a bouquet of flowers, measuring 8.89 inches tall and 6.67 inches wide. It’s not ugly, if you’re into modern aesthetics, but it’s not going to disappear into the background as easily as those other routers do. And that’s okay, because Netgear is the only router company that hasn’t taken away the ethernet switch and USB port in order to make its product smaller and more stylish.
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