These days pretty much everything at home relies on WiFi. From our mobile phones, laptops and iPads, to our Smart TVs, Alexa Home Assistants, baby monitors and even our thermostats, they’re all constantly plugged in to the WiFi network.
Which is totally fine if you’re home alone with just a device or two online, or you’re using the WiFi within a few metres of the router. But as soon as you go upstairs, venture outside, or try to use more than a few devices at once, the whole system inevitably falls apart.
Either your broadband speed drops to levels reminiscent of our own childhood in the 80s/90s (you know, when it took half an hour to print a photo of the Spice Girls on your dad’s oversized PC). Or your devices start dropping off the broadband altogether, going offline or switching to 4G (and sending your mobile data bill through the roof). There really is nothing more frustrating.
The thing is, as someone who grew up perfectly well before the internet became the juggernaut that it is today, I don’t like to admit that our family now relies on WiFi at home. But the fact of the matter is, we do.
When I work from home, good WiFi is essential. But, with a wife, noisy toddler and unshushable newborn dominating the ground floor all day, I can’t just plonk myself at the kitchen table near the router where the family chaos and WiFi connection are strongest. I need to escape the noise and hide upstairs to work, where (annoyingly) the WiFi is patchy at best.
When I’m outside doing the gardening (basically my other full-time job every weekend) I like to listen to Spotify and podcasts to make the backbreaking work just a little more tolerable. But as soon as I move a few metres from the house, again the WiFi signal disappears and my phone defaults to 4G (or 3G on a bad day) pushing me way over my mobile data allowance, without fail, every month.
Or even when we’re just relaxing on the sofa, catching up on one of the (many) series’ we’ve missed on Netflix, Prime or iPlayer. Pretty much every time, and always at the most crucial moment, our bloody smart TV freezes due to poor WiFi connection, and we end up rushing around the house switching all our devices to airplane mode in the hope it might make the bloody thing work again!
Granted, I’ll admit that we demand a lot from our home WiFi network, with mobile phones, iPads, laptops, a Smart TV, door security sensors, smart Light bulbs, two video baby monitors and many other devices all constantly connected to the internet (what can I say, I like a gadget). But I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like in a few years’ time when our kids are a bit older and have devices of their own to add to the mix! Carnage, that’s what…
Thankfully, we’ve recently found a solution to our problems in the form of the brilliant NETGEAR Orbi Mesh WiFi System with their brand new Orbi Voice Smart Speaker, which combines award winning technology and an incredible satellite speaker to deliver fast and reliable WiFi speeds throughout your entire home.
We’ve been using the Orbi Mesh WiFi System with Orbi Voice Smart Speaker for a few weeks now, and the difference they have made to our home broadband coverage has been nothing short of incredible.
Not only do they work together to power our whole home with super-fast WiFi; they’ve also extended the coverage of our WiFi throughout every room in the house and even every corner of the garden too! Plus, the NETGEAR Orbi system is packed full of loads of other ingenious features that have made our connected home work even better for us as a family…
Here’s everything you need to know…
Easy set up
Sometimes installing new tech at home can be a complete pain in the membrane. But thankfully installing the NETGEAR Orbi system couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is download the free Orbi app, and it walks you through every stage of the process (which takes about 20 minutes from start to finish).
The box comes with two key components: the white Orbi RBR50 WiFi router and the grey RBK40V Orbi Voice Smart Speaker satellite, which together make the RBK50V kit.
Following the instructions on the Orbi app, you basically plug the white router into your home internet modem using the cables provided, scan the QR code on the bottom of the device, and it will automatically set up a new Orbi WiFi network for your house.
Once that’s done, you then need to find a suitable spot away from the router to plug in your grey Orbi Voice Smart Speaker satellite. We set ours up in the sitting room so we could get maximum use out of the smart speaker (which can convert into an Amazon Alexa…more on that later), but they recommend maintaining line of sight between the router and satellite where possible for best results.
Again, following the instructions on the Orbi app, you can then link the speaker to your new Orbi WiFi network. And Bob’s your uncle…you’re connected!
Amazon Alexa built-in (with amazing sound quality to boot)
Next up comes the fun part…turning your Orbi Voice satellite into your own Amazon Alexa! The Orbi app talks you through every step, but so long as you have an Amazon account, it’s easy as pie. Just download the Amazon Alexa app, insert your usual Amazon log in details and any other relevant subscription services you want to add (like Spotify for example) and they’ll be granted access to your device.
Now your Orbi Voice is not only extending your WiFi coverage, but also letting you play your music hands-free or control your smart home devices with voice control, with your very own Amazon Alexa built-in.
Plus, for any audio geeks out there, you’ll be excited to know that the Orbi Voice has premium audio by Harman Kardon™ (one of the best speaker makers in the world) so the sound quality is immense, whether you’re playing classic rock or Baby Shark on repeat (your call).
Never forget your WiFi password
I don’t know about you, but WiFi passwords wind me right up – they’re always provided on a card which you sensibly put in a safe place (but can never find when you actually need it). So, one of the things I really love about the Orbi WiFi system is that it lets you rename your WiFi network and set your own password.
Not as a totally random set of numbers and letters, but to something you might actually remember (and can more easily give out to visitors when they inevitably ask for your WiFi details as soon as they arrive at your house).
A little thing but one that makes a big difference in my eyes!
The NETGEAR Orbi is enabled to link up to a brilliant app call ‘Circle with Disney’, which includes a whole range of smart parental controls that let you directly manage the content and time spent by your family online, on a per-child or per-device basis.
All you need to do is download the ‘Circle with Disney’ app, create a profile and link it up to your Orbi WiFi network. Once connected, you can make personalised profiles for each member of your family, setting individual filters to determine what websites or apps are allowed/restricted for each family member or by device, to ensure that the little ones are only able to view appropriate content online. Brilliant!
Finally – and this is a really cool feature especially for families with older kids – you can even use the Circle app to physically pause the WiFi (by device or by child) when they’ve been online for long enough. Plus, you can also set time limits, bedtimes and internet ‘off times’ per child and device (to avoid any secret late-night browsing under the covers) as well as seeing their usage information and website history, just to be absolutely safe.
Such a brilliant service which I know will really come into its own as our kids grow up.
Last but not least, and most important of all…
WiFi everywhere you need it!
The NETGEAR Orbi isn’t like a WiFi booster or range extender, which simply re-broadcasts your WiFi signal and essentially cut its performance in half. Instead, it cleverly creates a blanket of WiFi coverage throughout your entire home – as one seamless network – meaning you can move from room to room (or even into the garden) and your signal won’t drop, even while streaming.
Whatever device you’re using simply connects to the closest router or satellite automatically, so there’s no need to manually connect to a second network like other WiFi booster or range extender products.
And best of all, Orbi’s Patented FastLane3™ Technology makes sure you get the fastest WiFi speeds available even as more devices connect. So, more devices, no slowdown. Exactly what we needed!
As you can tell, the NETGEAR Orbi system has exceeded our expectations, completely fixing all the connectivity issues I mentioned earlier, so we’d definitely recommend it for anyone who has patchy WiFi signal at home (like we used to)!
This sponsored post has been written in collaboration with NETGEAR