When I first reviewed the Netgear Orbi system almost six years ago I said it “redefines in-home WiFi” and as technology evolves Netgear continue to hit the market with new Orbi products, the latest of which is an all-new gamechanger. The RBKE963 – code name for the WiFi 6E capable Orbi was basically made for my home.

Often the easiest way to start a review is my saying to yourself what are the pros and cons of this product. That’s why most reviews lead with that (oh, and because you’re lazy and often just look for a summary not a long review). Problem here is, there is really only one negative about the Orbi WiFi 6E Mesh system. The price.

At $2,799 I’ve never seen a home networking product more expensive. And I get it, you just want internet. But the problem is this is the single most important part of your home internet, and that is unfortunately overlooked by most.

You’re paying for great internet to come into the home. That’s your NBN connection, maybe you’ve got 100mbps, hey, you might have signed up for 1,000mbps. That’s the outside world hitting the outside wall of your home.

Inside your home you need a WiFi network so all those devices you have can then connect and utilise that outside connection you’re paying for. If you’ve got an average or above average sized Aussie home, then let me tell it to you straight – that modem the Internet Provider supplied just won’t cut it. In fact for a large part of the population, you don’t even need a router. For FTTP, HFC and some other NBN connections, you can plug a router right into that little black NTD from the NBN. Do some research, could be a game changer.

ISP supplied modems are made to be easy to support, and reliable. They are, but what they’re not made for is great WiFi. That’s why so many people still have slow WiFi in some parts of the home and black spots with no WiFi at all.

We solved that basic problem six years ago with the Orbi. But now, the demands we place on WiFi are extreme.

Smart home devices, light switches, doorbells, cameras, light bulbs, light strips, connected fridges you name it, we’re connecting it.

Too much traffic on the network will slow things down for everyone, just like the freeway when a slower car hits the right lane thinking they’re going to overtake up that hill. Nope.

The full product name of this latest Orbi is the NETGEAR Orbi Quad-band AXE11000 WiFi 6E Mesh System – a mouthful, but the key thing to notice there is the “Quad-Band”. This is an all new lane for traffic, dedicated to the very latest WiFi devices.

WiFi 6E is already available on Samsung’s latest phones, many PCs and more. Sadly, Apple overlooked it for the iPhone 14, but their time will come.

These “quad” bands mean there’s a 2.5GHz network, a 5GHz network, a new 6Ghz network and a dedicated band for the Orbi system to communicate – best known as “Backhaul”.

Your WiFI 6E capable devices don’t compete with ANY other traffic to get onto your Orbi network, that offers them the best possible WiFi expereince. In my testing with a Samsung Galaxy Fold 4, it was fantastic. Where sometimes you’d see a drop in speed on other devices, even slightly, the Fold 5 on 6E was flying all the time.

But is it worth spending $2,799 for a better WiFi experience for your similarly priced smartphone? No. I think that would be madness to suggest.

However, under the hood there are some excellent new features you can unlock with the Netgear Orbi that might just make it the perfect smart home networking system.

Primarily I’m speaking about the fantastic WiFi customisation.

You’ve got your primary network SSID (name), and then you can as always enable a Guest network, give that one to the visitors.

Plus, now, for the first time I’ve seen outside the Orbi Pro product, you have the option to enable an IoT network. This network can have it’s own name (SSID), and you can choose that it operates exclusively on the 2.4GHz WiFi band. And if you’re a smart home fiend you’ll be smiling right now.

Many of us got the latest Orbi because we knew it was great WiFi, but then like almost all WiFi networks our smart home devices which say they can’t connect to 5GHz WiFi were tough to connect. We found ways around it, but now, simples! Just make an all new network name, an easier to type on mobile but still strong IoT password and get all your devices flying and reliable on the 2.4GHz network.

I’m not saying that justifies the price alone, but heck, it got me smiling!

Setting up the Orbi WiFi 6E was as easy as every Orbi before it, the Orbi App really is a delight to use. Now advanced users might prefer a more complex setup, but all those features are still available in the web-backend.

Likewise, most all the settings and use of the back end can be done in the Orbi App. Stick to the app for basic network info, connected devices, speed tests, security and parental controls.

You’ll need to get into the web back-end to setup the IoT network or any other tweaks.

Sadly, I don’t see any QoS options, something I do like to use where possible, allowing priority on the network to devices like Gaming consoles or TVs, to ensure anything the kids are doing on their devices doesn’t impact on the gaming or streaming! For this price, I think it should be there.

Netgear Armor is the network security system you can setup an enable direclty in the Orbi App. It’s an annual subscription, that comes wtih a free trial. I think once you enable Armor you won’t want to live without it. You think you don’t need security but then you’ll realise there’s that dodgy old security camera you’ve got which is a constant source of external attacks, and then there’s that thing you downloaded which was actually malware.

I was diving into the darkest parts of the web last week in pursuit of the Optus hacker and might have downloaded something that clearly played havoc with my browser. I wouldn’t have known if not for the Armor security notifying me. Wipe that slate clean and things are now safe.

Importantly, the Parental control aspects also mean you can restrict your kids devices at a network level. Tag each device under a childs name, from laptop to iPad and smartphone, and then if said child is a bit naughty, just hit PAUSE on their access. All devices stop working! So good:). Plus downtimes as a simple way to ensure they’re not on device after hours.

These new Orbi devices are bigger than ever, about 3.5cm taller than the 800 series WiFi 6 product. But they are still a stunning design. Critically, there’s a new black design available exclusively from Netgear. Looks slick too!

Around the back, the Orbi Router has support for Internet up to 10GBps, and while that’s not on the radar in Australia, it’s a solid future proofing for your network.

Additionally, hard wiring your sattelites is easier than ever with a 2.5GBps ethernet port, though they are paired for wireless out of the box, and given the high-speed WiFi capabilities, I’m not sure a wireless backhaul will be a bottleneck for any Aussie Internet connection. Likely the best use case for Wired Backhaul is simply range, and for those looking at a lot of on-network steaming like a Plex media server.

According to Armor, I’ve had 121 devices through my home since installing the Orbi WiFI 6E a few weeks ago, and we have on average 76 devices active at any time. That’s who else this is for – people with LOADS of devices. That IoT network is a winner for me, and the future proofing for all the 6E devices given their own network make it a cracking option to underpin your home’s connectivity.

Given the high price of the system, I’d like to see a year or two of the Armor and Parental control services included, but it should be noted the prices of those are highly competitive compared to third party products.

Overall I’m utterly impressed by the Orbi WiFi 6E, it’s not for everyone, but sets a benchmark for how powerful and customisable a home network should be.

Easily the best consumer WiFi system available today, this 900’s series Orbi takes everything Netgear has built with the Orbi brand and ensures they stay at the top of the tree for consumers. There’s simply no better WiFi system out there, there are many options, and they are great products – somehow Netgear just keep themselves at the top of the tree.

Available now at major retailers like JB HiFi, or Direct with free shipping from Netgear.