Home WiFi mesh with flawless reach and scorching speed

Netgear’s new Orbi RBK23 will beam a top-speed WiFi signal to the remotest corners of a house

Netgear Orbi RBK23, from about £299
Netgear Orbi RBK23, from about £299 | Image: Hugh Threlfall

It’s only 18 months since I recommended BT’s Whole Home mesh system as being the first to be able to provide reliable WiFi through my bafflingly impenetrable 18th-century London loft. Then earlier this year I found another mesh product, Eero, which did a great (better, to be honest) job in a difficult (because of steel in the walls) modern apartment in New York.

However, Whole Home has deteriorated to the point where the three satellite dish-like repeaters need to be rebooted as often as twice daily. Eero, while it works fine in the UK and is being imported by a couple of vendors, remains officially a North America-only product. WiFi continues to be such a problem, however, that the big guys in the field, Linksys and Netgear, now each has an expensive mesh offering. Having not tried a Netgear product since its Nighthawk in 2015, I’ve had a chance to trial its new Orbi RBK23 system and I’m drowning in top-speed internet in even the most recalcitrant corners of the place.

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I’m not sure what their secret sauce is – the central hub with satellite unit hardware looks little different from BT’s Whole Home – but I am wondering if I should have committed to Netgear long ago? I happen to be writing this in an old farmhouse in upstate New York, where a Nighthawk similarly supplies scorching speed everywhere. But it’s a wooden building and there are no neighbours – other people’s WiFi can mess up your own. So provisionally, based on a few weeks’ use in London, I’d say Orbi RBK23 could be your solution. I can’t say, however, if it will decline in power like the BT system did.

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