Netgear Orbi 860 mesh system is ready for the multi-gigabit age

Netgear Orbi 860 mesh system

Networking gear brand Netgear has announced the Orbi 860 Series mesh system, with the aim of future-proofing Australian homes off the back of a 10 gigabit Ethernet port.

While many parts of Australia are still a while away from accessing speeds the device supports, NBN Co is actively working on multi-gigabit technology for the future. A step up from the company’s 850 series, the 860 devices feature expanded Ethernet capacity, an upgraded Wi-Fi antenna, and an included year of cybersecurity subscription service Netgear Armor.

Although the Netgear Orbi 860 mesh system doesn’t support the recent Wi-Fi 6E protocol, most Australian households should find the Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax more than serviceable.

Why a mesh system?

Mesh systems are a handy way to set up a Wi-Fi connection to improve coverage around the home. They operate by using multiple devices that function as a single network, broadcasting the signal between different locations and maximising overage. After plugging in the router device to your NBN box – or via a modem, depending on your NBN connection – it then communicates with compatible satellite devices so you have multiple wireless access points under the same network.

This is particularly helpful for larger properties or multi-storey homes where the Wi-Fi signal doesn’t reach everywhere, or walls cause interference. Overall, you get better coverage and more reliable performance, because your internet-enabled devices automatically connect to the access point with the stronger signal based on your location relative to the mesh system.

Netgear Orbi 860

Netgear rates the coverage of the router and satellites as reaching 180 square metres. With a three-pack including one router and two satellites, this distance expands to a potential 540 square metres, which can increase with more satellites. Along with the tri-band technology that includes two 5GHz bands and a 2.4GHz band, the Orbi 860 mesh system supports up to 100 devices at the same time. Between working from home and many home entertainment devices supporting streaming, the networking kit has a 6Gbps maximum wireless speed to ensure everyone gets the internet they need.

One of the ways the Orbi 860 maintains speed and connectivity between the router and satellite devices is through what Netgear calls a “dedicated backhaul”. Via an exclusive Wi-Fi pathways made specifically for the router and satellites, the idea is that it doesn’t get bogged down by other devices stealing bandwidth, so the end result maintains high speeds.

As with other Orbi devices, you can monitor and control the network using the Orbi app. This lets you set up the network, monitor usage, and pause internet access on a device level. Plus, the included year of Netgear Armor adds another layer of security to your home network, including access to Bitdefender VPN.

Netgear Orbi 860 price and release date

Out now, there are multiple options depending on your networking needs. A single Orbi 860 router or satellite costs $799, its higher price is reflective of the faster technology. Another option is the previously mentioned three-pack, which costs $2,099 across various tech retailers and direct via Netgear. For the style-conscious, the devices come in white or black, the latter of which is exclusive to the online Netgear store.

At this price, it’s clearly not for everyone, which also reflects the state of Australian internet, where your location determines your maximum internet speed. As Netgear alludes to with its future-proofing sentiment, a high-end mesh system might be of interest if you anticipate having access to multi-gigabit speeds in the foreseeable future.

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