Reliable internet in the home has become more important than ever. Home schooling, working from home have been added to the other activities of online family life. In my family we have tried a wide variety of solutions. We have a four bedroom house and an office in the garden and there are five of us using the internet extensively.
Over the years I have worked through a series of different routers, sent internet down the power cables and introduced a number of different approaches to monitoring and restricting access appropriate for the different age of each family member.
The challenge of any set-up is to provide good coverage, simple to use access control and extension of the internet to my office. I recently got to try out the Orbi WiFi 6 series which is so far meeting these requirements amicably.
While it isn’t the cheapest of the Mesh systems I’ve tried, what’s impressive is the range and simplicity of the setup. If you’ve not come across this approach to WiFi, a Mesh network consists of a main router and a number of satellite modules that extend the signal.
The benefit is that you still only have one WiFi network and one password. As you move around the home, your device gets data from which ever satellite it is closest to. With loads of devices this makes it so much easier to set-up than other ways of extending the signal that have to be logged onto separately. This much I knew, what I hadn’t anticipated was how far a Mesh network could reach.
A particular challenge in my home is that my office is a good 20 meters from the house. I had tried other ways of extending the WiFi to reach without success. I’d also opted to send Internet down the power cable for a while, but this suffered from interference from other electrical devices.
By placing one Mesh satellite unit in the house and one in the office I’ve had no trouble connecting to the WiFi and getting excellent speeds. As you can see it’s quite a distance.
I had been apprehensive about this kind of network because of the complexity of the setup. However, the Orbi units come with an app that take you through things one step at a time. What I particularly liked was that the units worked out their relative positions and selected an appropriate daisy-chain configuration automatically.
The final piece of the puzzle were the Circle parental controls. I have used the stand along Circle device in a previous set-up so was keen to have those some controls with my move to the Orbi routers. As with other Netgear routers, Orbi comes with Circle as an integral part of the system.
It’s worth noting that some of the more advanced (and most useful) Circle features are now only available if you subscribe to the Circle system with a monthly payment. While this adds to the cost of the set-up it does offer a super simple way to track what children are doing online across their different devices. It avoids them cruising from one device to another once their time is up.
We’ve been testing Orbi WiFi 6 in our house for a few months now and it has coped well. My son demands high performance for his esports competitions, I run a YouTube channel and other family members consume considerable bandwidth viewing and sharing content.
While the set-up isn’t the cheapest you can find, for the peace of mind that Circle adds, the reliability and simplicity of the set-up it has been an investment that has offered my family great value.