Netgear's Orbi range includes some of the most powerful mesh routers, and now the line becomes even more interesting. The latest router, the Orbi Voice, is also a speaker with built-in microphones and Alexa. That way, you can place it in a room where you want to listen to music or listen to podcasts while improving Wi-Fi reception in the area.
There are not many other products that combine a router with each other. I can not really imagine anything apart from combi routers and modems because the two products had to sit side by side for a long time. In most cases, it does not make much sense to combine a router with something else.
But mesh routers are supposed to be placed around the house to amplify a Wi-Fi signal in dead zones. And the more out there the router is, the better the signal is likely to be ̵
The Orbi Voice is different from the typical smart speakers in a single key: most of these speakers are for 360- Degree sound while the Orbi is a more traditional speaker, with a woofer and tweeter front, as well as a bass reflex port (a chamber to bounce around the bass). This means that you want to position it against a wall; but Netgear points out that the device needs power, so many would do it anyway.
There are also four microphones and a set of buttons above to control Alexa. As usual, you can use it to control music playback by voice, look up, and control other smart devices in your network. Netgear says the speaker will be working with Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, iHeartRadio and a few others (including Amazon services, of course). Unfortunately, it does not support simultaneous playback with other speakers, at least at startup.
As a router, it should be a pretty good one. It does not fit the best of the Orbi lineup, but it's still a triband model. Netgear says it can achieve 2.2Gbps Wi-Fi speeds, and it includes two Ethernet ports.
It's a really interesting product. And while the combination of speaker and router may be a bit niche at the moment, this device seems to be talking about trends that we might see in the future. Why buy a dedicated router if another product could improve your Wi-Fi connection instead?
The Orbi Voice will hit the market next month for $ 300. However, you need an Orbi Hub unit for it to work. It is also sold together with one of them – the high-end model – for $ 429.
In addition to the Orbi Voice, Netgear announces a successor to its first "professional" gaming router, the Nighthawk XR500. The new model is the XR700 and offers up to 7.2 Gbps Wi-Fi connection. But the bigger deal for gamers will be its plethora of high-speed Ethernet ports: it has seven gigabit speed ports, as well as a single port that supports speeds up to 10 gigabits. Netgear is positioning it as a way to power its previously announced 15-Gigabit LAN switch between the two devices.
The router also runs software called DumaOS, which provides a number of customization options as well as control. By removing servers that you connect to, gamers can make sure they get a stronger connection. It also supports Plex. It will go on sale for $ 500 next month.