Netgear Orbi

For most people nowadays, having a reliable home wifi connection is as important as having a reliable electricity, gas or water supply. And yet, up until fairly recently, it was not especially easy to get a consistent wifi signal in all parts of an average sized house. Unless your router was right in the middle of the house (not often the case due to external phone wiring), you might need to use wifi repeaters or powerline technology - both having compromises in terms of speed and reliability. This could also involve managing multiple SSIDs or using a single SSID but accepting that devices might not switch gracefully to the strongest signal.

Enter a new breed of 'whole home' wifi routers that claim to solve this problem. You get a router plus one or more satellites which communicate between themselves via an extra reserved wireless channel. Although the router will probably still be positioned close to your external phone point, the satellite(s) can be positioned in the middle of the house for maximum coverage. They also look more aesthetically pleasing than old-style routers (an important factor for my wife).

So how does this work in practice? The answer is that it works really really well. You get excellent wifi coverage throughout your home and none of the glitches that would often beset older repeater/powerline technology. Both 2.4g and 5g frequencies are implemented but everything is on a single SSID. Devices connect to the most suitable frequency and 'roam' between the main router and the satellite completely seamlessly. Both router and satellite have ethernet ports available for equipment that needs a wired connection.

The downsides? Well, it is still a fairly new concept and prices are high compared to traditional routers. Prices will almost certainly come down over time. Also, at least in the case of the Netgear Orbi, some features which appear on older routers like Netgear Parental Controls and Netgear Readyshare are not yet implemented.

In summary, if you want state-of-the-art wifi coverage and are willing to pay a little extra for it then I can recommend Netgear Orbi. There are competing 'whole home' systems (eg. from Linksys, Google, BT) but I don't have first hand experience of these.
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