Orbi Home Wi-Fi System RBK50 by Netgear – Review



Having internet dead spots is one of the most frustrating things!  I recently was given the chance to test a Netgear Orbi and it’s safe to say my frustrations are much less!  Previously I have tried a number of routers and ultimately needed to use boosters in the house to get the signal strength throughout the house.

What we love…

Orbi is easy to set up router that provides wi-fi in my whole house without having signal boosters or dead spots

What we’d love to see…

Reminders from the app from Netgear to update firmware or simply reboot the router every so often

Summary

Orbi has made my home internet so much faster.  Even though the cost of the Orbi is a bit higher than a traditional router – having a simple easy solution means I can spend more time with my family doing what matters without having to worry about my internet.

Our Rating

 

recommended-by-the-imums

netgear-ambassaodorDisclaimer: I am a NETGEAR Ambassador and I received this product in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion and review.

iMum Mary had similar experiences when she reviewed Orbi last year.  Read her review here.

Out of the box, Orbi was easy to set up.  I installed the companion app on my iPhone and within 10 minutes, I had both the main unit and satellite set up – firmware updated and running!  The best part – I no longer need to remember two network names – my devices will seamlessly swap between the 2.5G to the 5G network without me having to change anything!

Orbi is an all in one unit – there are no antenas that are external.  You place one unit close to your home modem and use an ethernet cord to plug the modem and the base unit together.  Then, you can place the satellite unit in the house where  most of your electronics are – for me that’s on the first floor near our living room.  We have a TV/DVD player that we use to stream, a home laptop as well as various bluetooth speakers and a charging dock for our devices.  Orbi is cool to the touch, so I didn’t worry about my four year old touching it in error and hurting his hand.

One of my favorite things about Orbi is the ability to configure as little or as much as you wish!  I have an Orbi app on my phone and can use my Amazon Alexa to enable or disable the guest internet with a simple spoken voice command.  I also loved the integration with Circle parental controls – as a mom I’m always watching how much screentime my kids get – with Orbi I have a second person on my shoulder helping to monitor and make sure that they are not accessing sites that I don’t want them to.  Once I got Orbi, and upgraded my cable modem to a CM 1000 I was finally getting the speeds I was paying for with my home internet!  One of the other things I liked was the ability to share WiFi with a QR code or even via a text message to other Apple devices.

 

Inside Orbi

6 dedicated WiFi antennas supporting Tri-band WiFi with dedicated 4×4 Tx/Rx backhaul.

2 antennas for Dual-band front haul connections to WiFi devices (2.4GHz + 5GHz Low-band).

 

To start using Orbi, you plug it into your cable modem using the included Ethernet cable.  Plug in Orbi and turn it on.  Orbi will turn solid white and then pulse white when it is ready for you to set up with your home internet.  The goal is with the base and satellite, that you get a blue ring.  Blue= good connection, amber= fair connection, magenta= unable to connect.   When I first set up the Orbi in one part of the house I got an Amber, so I simply moved it around a bit until I got a better connection.  My favorite part?!?  I finally got a connection in both parts of my downstairs as well as on my side deck so we could stream to our heart’s content.  If you still struggle to get a good connection, Orbi has other units you can purchase to help boost the signal throughout the house as well.  When setting up you can either plug into the included ethernet ports or use WPS setup to allow your devices to find Orbi.  You can see a device list of connected devices and turn on/off the internet with a tap.  WIth our previous router and old modem, I was lucky if I got half the speed I was paying for.  Now I can stream on multiple devices, use the internet and even play music without worrying about my connection.  I pay for Blast services with Comcast and got 296 down and 12 up once I installed Orbi.  This was not location dependent within the house either.

In terms of improvements, I wish the Orbi app would send you a reminder when you need to update firmware or do some other type of maintenance to the network.   Other than that – really there is nothing I would change.

Orbi has made my home internet so much faster.  Even though the cost of the Orbi is a bit higher than a traditional router – having a simple easy solution means I can spend more time with my family doing what matters without having to worry about my internet. Available from Amazon and other fine retailers.



NETGEAR Orbi NETGEAR Orbi by NETGEAR

Price: $FREE

The Orbi App from NETGEAR makes it easy to set up and get more from your Orbi WiFi system.

You can quickly install your WiFi in just a few steps. A dashboard provides easy access to additional.

 


Circle: Smart Family Controls Circle: Smart Family Controls by Circle Media Incorporated

Price: $FREE

Circle is the smart way for families to manage content and time online, on any device.

Circle works with your home Wi-Fi and manages every device on your network, both wireless and wired, without.

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

 

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly. The iMums are  NETGEAR Ambassadors.

 

Tech Specs

Tech specs

Combined WiFi speed 3,000 Mbps (1733 + 866 + 400Mbps)
Coverage 5,000 sq ft
Dedicated Backhaul 4×4 (1.7Gbps)
WiFi Technology Tri-band


Starry Station – Touchscreen WiFi Router by Starry – Review



Starry Station - Touchscreen WiFi Router - Simple Setup and Easy Parental Controls. Fast Gigabit Speed

What we love…

easy to set up router with great parental controlss which allow you to isolate a device with specific settings, super use friendly with touchscreen controls and access via your device, great for family time and device free time with the touch of a screen!

What we’d love to see…

more ethernet ports, potential for a web dashboard and more on the “network health”

Summary

Overall, this is a great router which includes parental controls and allows you to easily turn on and off the internet.  The parental controls differentiate this router from others on the market with the ease of a touchscreen or your device – all in one place and easy to use.

Our Rating

 

recommended-by-the-imums

Starry Wi-Fi StationThe Starry Station by Starry is a touchscreen wifi router that includes parental controls and simplifies how you use the internet.  When I recently set it up – I had it out of the box and running in less than 10 minutes and that included adding all of my devices to the new networks.  WiFi is fast – with good streaming and surfing quality much faster than my previous router.  It also works with all types of internet including fiber optic, cable and includes built in WPA2 Encryption.  The Starry Station is a triangle shaped router which stands on a side – the base is 3 inches wide and there is a fan behind it.

One of my favorite things about Starry Station is the ease of setup and the fact that I can have parental controls in the palm of my hand or by using the touch screen on the router.  I loved that I could set one device, my 8 year old’s to be off from a specific period of time or even just block his access entirely if I wanted to either from the router or from the app.  I also found that the speeds on the router were more true to what I paid for with Comcast compared to my previous router.   I have a bit of an unusual house set up – and in the past have had a boost downstairs because for some reason I can’t always get good network signal.  Although I did continue to use my wireless access point, it was easily reconfigured to Starry and gave me better and faster service than I had previously.  We live in a media friendly home, and regularly stream Netflix, cable TV, surf the internet as well as having several smart appliances.  Another bonus of the router was that it had the same name for the 2.4G as well as the 5G network, which meant that you didn’t have to remember as many passwords to login.  Using the touch screen or my iPhone/iPad I was able to walk around the house and easily add new devices quickly!  We had 10 devices online easily at a time and noticed no lags or slowdowns while using the router.  We also had some Apple and Android devices as well to try to see if the device mix would change how the network performed and didn’t notice an appreciable difference.  The router also includes a speaker and mic – for future voice control options which are not yet enabled.  I can’t wait to see those enabled.  It also includes guest access which is easily turned on via your device or touchscreen so you can choose who has access and who does not!
iPhone Screenshot 4A bit about the parental controls – this by far was my favorite feature of the router.  I loved that I could easily filter content, pause the internet (for one device or all) and limit access to specific apps using the app on my iPhone.   This meant I could set screen time rules for specific devices, like my son’s iPad without having to worry about blocking my iPad or my husband’s devices.  I also liked that I could set safe content and turn off access to social media all with the touch of a button.  At our house we usually have #devicefree Friday nights where we try to turn off our devices and spend time together as a family.  I always hated having to go upstairs to unplug the router so no one would try to “sneak” access to the internet – now with Starry it’s a simple tap of a button on my iPhone and the internet is off.  The offline hours are great as well – they help to ensure you don’t stay up too late because it can automatically turn off the internet at a specific time (although you can override as necessary).  I also liked the customer support I got when I needed it – I spoke with someone in the United States who took the time to help me answer my question about the wireless access point and ensured things were configured properly.

In terms of enhancements, I do wish the router had more ports on the back of it.  There are only two ports – one for internet coming in and the other for internet coming out..  I did get a wireless bridge to give me more ports so I could plug in all my Ethernet devices in my office.  I also noticed that the network health changed a lot – even when I was standing in the same place.  It was nice in theory because I could see what devices were on the network easily.  I would like to see a web based dashboard in the future just in case I didn’t always have access to my device and needed to tweak something a bit more than I could do with the touch screen.

Overall, this is a great router which includes parental controls and allows you to easily turn on and off the internet.  The parental controls differentiate this router from others on the market with the ease of a touchscreen or your device – all in one place and easy to use.  Plus, with the app you can turn on and off the internet even when you are not home.  It was easy to set up and use, and I love knowing that my son is safe while online as we work on setting our digital boundaries but give him access to a tablet and computer for homework. RRP $250 USD on Amazon.

Starry Station

Starry Internet
Starry Internet
by Starry, Inc.

Category: Utilities
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74, iPhone8-iPhone8, iPhone8Plus-iPhone8Plus, iPhoneX-iPhoneX, iPad75-iPad75, iPad76-iPad76, iPhoneXS-iPhoneXS, iPhoneXSMax-iPhoneXSMax, iPhoneXR-iPhoneXR, iPad812-iPad812, iPad834-iPad834, iPad856-iPad856, iPad878-iPad878
Size: 61.32 MB

$FREE

Screenshots
(Click to enlarge)

Video Demo

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

Tech Specs

Power Dual-Band 802.11ac
Touchscreen 3.8″ LCD Touchscreen
Ports 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports: 1-in, 1-out
Security WPA2

Giveaway for VIDBOX Video Conversion Suite ($99.99)

VIDBOX Video Conversion Suite

VIDBOX Video Conversion Suite

Do you have a friend or relative who still has lots of home videos lying around on VHS tapes or on camcorder tapes? VIDBOX Video Conversion Suite could be the perfect gift for them. Tapes deteriorate over time and it becomes harder and harder to find ways to play them, so its important to get them transferred to digital formats or you may lose the content entirely. Instead of taking them in to be professionally copied (which can be cost prohibitive if you have a lot of tapes to transfer) you can convert them at home with VIDBOX Video Conversion Suite.

To use VIDBOX you need a VCR or camcorder that can play your tapes, and a Mac or PC. The Video Conversion Suite comes with a key to download the software or you can install it via the included CD-Rom. The VIDBOX little white box is the key to connecting your video output device to the computer. You wire it to your VCR/ camcorder via RCA to RCA cables (included) or RCA to S-Cable (not included) and connect it to your computer via the included USB cable. Once it is connected launch the VIDBOX software and follow the on screen instructions. The video will record as a digital file on your computer in real time as it plays on your VCR/ camcorder. Once the recording is finished you can preview it and save to iMovie or iTunes (on Mac).

Compatible  Video Players: VCR (VHS, Betamax, S-VHS), camcorder (8mm, DV, mini DV, HDV, AVCHD), TV, DVD player, game console, TiVo, DVR and cable set-top box.

System requirements:

Mac

  • Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or higher
  • Available USB 2.0 or 3.0 port
  • Processor: Intel® Core2 Duo processor or higher
  • Memory: 1GB of RAM
  • Free Hard Disk Space: 15GB recommended

PC

  • Operating System: Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista
  • Available USB 2.0 or 3.0 port
  • Processor: Pentium M 2.26 GHz, Pentium Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz or higher, or AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 3600+ or higher
  • Memory: 1GB of RAM
  • Free Hard Disk Space: 700MB for program installation and 10GB for DVD creation

The Video conversion suite includes software for both Mac and PC or you can buy Mac or PC only versions for slightly less. Available from VIDBOX.COM or Amazon RRP Suite $99.99 or PC or Mac only $79.99. Suite currently on sale for $89.99 on VIDBOX.Com.

Giveaway

If you would like to win a VIDBOX Video Conversion Suite please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. A valid shipping address is required and winners must respond to email notification within 48 hours.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review of the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 AC5300Tri-Band WiFi Router

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Summary…

The X8 offers great performance with 3 Wifi Bands, Quad Stream, Dynamic QoS and Smart Connectivity. This gives it up to 12 data streams that are actively managed to give the best connection for each device. Its active antennae help to improve the connection for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

I have been very impressed with the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 AC5300Tri-Band WiFi Router and found it to perform even better than the X6. The main areas that we saw improvement in were the performance when multiple devices are connected at once, and a noticeable improvement in the WiFi range.

recommended-by-the-imums

NetGear Ambassaodor

Disclaimer: I am a NETGEAR Ambassador and I received this product in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion and review.

The Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Router is the newest Tri-band router from NETGEAR. It uses 802.11ac WiFi technology with one 2.4GHz and two 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands. It has combined wireless speeds up to 5.3Gbps. It has a dual core 1.4GHz processor, 128 MB Flash and 512 MB RAM memory. It has Quad Stream and Implicit & Explicit Beamforming for  both 2.4 & 5GHz bands.

We reviewed the Nighthawk X6 last year, which was NETGEAR’s first Tri-Band router and were impressed with its performance, so I was interested to see how the X8 compares.

Set Up

The Nighthawk X8 is very quick and easy to set up. With the included quick start guide it was up and running in no time. You basically connect the modem, power on the router, connect a computer or device and complete the setup using the free NETGEAR Genie app. The external antennae come already attached, no assembly required.

The X8 comes with a pre-assigned Wi-Fi network name, typically NETGEAR plus a number, and password, which are on a peelable label on the X8. There is an option to change the name and/or password if you wish. The X8 has a WPS button so it is very quick and easy to connect any device with a WPS button, for other devices you just enter the Wi-Fi name and password as usual.

Size and Form Factor

You do need to make sure you have a large space available for it as the X8 is huge! It measures 12.44″ x 10.39″ x 2.40″  (316 x 264 x 61 mm), which is even bigger than the X6. It has 4 external antennae, so it also needs a lot of headroom- with the antennae extended upright it is approximately 19cm/ 7 1/2″ tall. The top surface has a wavy black plastic grille which looks futuristic, but also has the practical effect of preventing you stacking anything on top of it, important to prevent overheating.

Antennae

The X8 has a total of 8 antennae- 4 internal plus 4 external. The external antennae are movable in many directions. NETGEAR recommends setting them up with the 2 central ones upright and the side ones at 45°, but you can change this if you wish. The external antennas are active antennae, which is a new feature. This means that instead of the WiFi amplifiers being on the router’s motherboard (the standard location) they are on top of the antennae so they can amplify the signal in the antenna itself. This is designed to improve connection to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The external antennae have blue LEDs to show when they are active, but you can switch the LEDs off if you find them distracting.

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USB Ports and Secure Storage

The X8 has 2 USB ports- one is USB 2.0, the other 3.0. I like having two USB ports available, but I’m not sure why they didn’t make them both 3.0.

If you attach an external hard drive to a USB port you can use the free NETGEAR ReadyCLOUD mobile app or web portal to access the drive’s content from anywhere. This is a very simple way to create your own personal cloud.

Wired Connections

The X8 has six Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, and one WAN. This means you can connect up to six wired devices for maximum performance. There is also the option to combine two of the six to double the connection speed for a Network Attached Storage device to allow 4K HD streaming or multiple fast WiFi backups.

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Wireless Speeds

The X8 has a number of features designed to maximize Wifi speeds and performance for gaming and video streaming.

Like the X6 this is a Tri-band router, it has one 2.4 GHz and two 5GHz Bands. 2.4GHz is an old Wi-Fi standard, it is slow and prone to interference, but is necessary to allow older devices to connect to your network. 5.0 GHz is the newer standard, and gives faster performance with less interference, but if you have a lot of devices on the 5.0 GHz it can slow down the connection and affect performance. Having two 5.0 GHz bands helps to prevent slowdowns from lots of devices using it at once.

The X8 delivers a combined wireless speed of up to 5.3Gbp- 1000Mbps for the 2.4GHz  band, plus 2166 Mbps for each of the two 5.0 GHz bands.

It has Quad Streaming to deliver up to four data streams per WiFi band, making 12 in total. Smart Connect selects the fastest WiFi band for each device and Dynamic QoS prioritizes traffic by application and device.

Performance

When we installed the X6 we saw a big leap in performance compared to our previous router, an Apple Airport Express, and we have seen a further improvement with the X8 vs the X6. We have a challenging home for WiFi – it has an unusual layout over 3 staggered floors and poor incoming signal because we live a long way from the DSL hub. With the X6 we found it optimized our signal near the router but for the far flung parts of the house we still needed to use a booster such as the NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 WiFi Range Extender Model EX7000 to get a useable signal.

With the X8 we have a slightly stronger signal near the router- but the improvement is marginal. Where we have seen most gains is further from the router – we now get a useable signal throughout the entire house without having to use a WiFi booster- which is a huge improvement! In the master bedroom (unless I used a signal booster) we barely had a signal at all and couldn’t even read email reliably, with the X8 I can surf the web, download apps, do email and even watch Youtube videos. The X8 has done a great job of #eliminating deadspots.

We cut the cable almost two years ago and only have TV via DVD and streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, so good quality video streaming is very important to us. Unfortunately we have a weak incoming internet connection  which can cause hangups in our streaming. The performance with the X6 was much better than with the Airport Express and has improved again with the X8. Our family has a lot of connected devices including multiple iPads, Smartphones, tablets, Smart TV and Xbox. In the past when the Smart TV is streaming video and multiple family members are streaming to different devices at the same time we have had some connectivity issues, but I have not seen this happen with X8.

Security.

Both the X6 and X8 have the option to set up a guest network to allow visiting family and friends to access Wi-Fi  without sharing your main network password.

Like the X6, the X8 has the option to enable parental controls. This lets you choose from different levels of protection against things such as phishing scams, pornography, illegal activity, adult-related sites and even video sharing sites and social media. You can customize different setting for different times of the day.

The X8 has WiFi Protected Access® (WPA/WPA2—PSK), Double firewall protection (SPI and NAT) and Denial-of-service (DoS) attack prevention.

 

Summary

The X8 offers great performance with 3 Wifi Bands, Quad Stream, Dynamic QoS and Smart Connectivity. This gives it up to 12 data streams that are actively managed to give the best connection for each device. Its active antennae help to improve the connection for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

I have been very impressed with the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 AC5300Tri-Band WiFi Router and found it to perform even better than the X6. The main areas that we saw improvement in were the performance when multiple devices are connected at once, and a noticeable improvement in the WiFi range.

The X6 and X8 are both great routers, for many homes the X6 is a great choice. However if you have a large or challenging home, heavy demand for high speed internet for gaming or video streaming or large numbers of connected devices the X8 may be a better choice.

Price and Availability

The NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 AC5300Tri-Band WiFi Router has an RRP of $399.99 and is available from Amazon and other retailers.