Netgear's Orbi Wi-Fi system / mesh networking product line has been well-received in the market since its introduction in Q3 2016. Since then, Netgear has been regularly rolling out new hardware and firmware upgrades to keep up with the market requirements. All the Orbi products in the market currently are based on Qualcomm's Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) platforms.

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) has had a relatively slow start in the market, with the absence of client devices holding back widespread acceptance of the new routers from various vendors. Even though many products were announced at CES 2018, they started rolling out in retail only towards the end of last year. Netgear's flagship Wi-Fi 6 routers (RAX80 and RAX120) were launched in November 2018, and the Broadcom-based RAX80 is already available for purchase. The Qualcomm-based RAX120 will be available in retail shortly.

Given these two parallel developments, it comes as no surprise that Netgear will incorporate a Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) platform into the next-generation Orbi. The product will continue to use Netgear's patented Fastlane3 technology (with a dedicated 4x4 802.11ax backhaul, in addition to 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz channels for use by clients). The Wi-Fi 6 backhaul enables true gigabit wireless links between the Orbi nodes. Netgear also announced that the Orbi products will continue to use a Qualcomm platform (in fact, the early specifications seem to indicate that the RAX120 platform is being used with the addition of another 802.11ax radio).

Pricing for the Orbi kits with Wi-Fi 6 was not announced, as the products are slated to become available only in H2 2019. The announcement is particularly interesting because vendors such as TP-Link are moving to Broadcom-based 802.11ax platforms for their whole-home Wi-Fi / mesh networking products.

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  • hansmuff - Monday, January 07, 2019 - link

    I love my Orbi RBR50/RSB50. As far as Gigabit speeds, well it doesn't quite hit that. But when I connect via Ethernet to a Orbi satellite and basically measure the backhaul speed (NOT wired) I get about 800Mbps. That's pretty respectable for having to go through 3 walls (TBH, one floor and two drywalls.)

    I think I can stay with this setup for a while yet (plus where it counts, I use wired to the ONT anyway.)
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  • brakdoo - Wednesday, January 09, 2019 - link

    Same for me. The connection between my Orbis is really good at high distance and very reliable.

    The one thing that is really annoying is the long time it takes to resync after you made a small change in the web interface. But once is set up it's really good.

    I even got rid of my ubiquiti and asus stuff, though I miss all those configuration options that Orbis don't have.
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  • Impulses - Monday, January 14, 2019 - link

    That's interesting, I didn't realize the interconnected backhaul was that decent... I've been debating adding a second Ethernet drop at home since we're getting gigabit internet service from a local fiber co soon and one of the two desktops is on WiFi right now...

    Maybe Orbi might make more sense than re-drilling holes and adding more keystone jacks, we have concrete walls/construction here tho... I dunno how it'd fare past about 2 concrete walls (including a bathroom and a water heater somewhat in the way).

    Doing the Ethernet drop might end up being the cheaper option even if it's more of a hassle, rest of the house is already well served as far as WiFi for mobile devices goes.
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  • Jorja149 - Tuesday, January 08, 2019 - link

    Netgear says it is tracking issues related to using HomeKit accessories with its Orbi mesh routers Reply

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