Netgear Orbi – Whole Home WiFi That Works

I have installed over 100 WiFi routers in homes and signal coverage is the biggest issue I encounter.  This is especially true in our area due to the sprawling layout of  our homes.  And now that we want fast WiFi connections for our streaming devices wherever we happen to be in or around the house, coverage has become even more important.  Multiple access points and WiFi extenders can work, but aren’t ideal when you and your devices move throughout the home and need to switch WiFi connections.

Netgear and other networking companies have introduced new products that provide 2 or more WiFi devices that operate as a single, coordinated system.  The base unit is connected by wire to your cable modem or router.  The second unit is placed in another area of the home and communicates with the base using a wireless connection.  Both units work together to provide a blanket of WiFi coverage throughout your home.  Homes larger than 5000 sqft  or with special signal challenges may require an additional satellite unit.

Orbi from Netgear has received some of the best reviews and I brought in a set to test. I replaced 2 separate WiFi access points with an Orbi base station and satellite and I am more than pleased with the results.  My WiFi coverage as measured by signal strength and throughput has improved markedly and I no longer need to manually switch WiFi networks when I move around the house.

Installation can be done using the Orbi app on iOS or Android if you have a very basic setup.  I prefer the control that I get from the web-based interface.  Setup took less than 10 minutes and performance has been fantastic.  The only drawback of Orbi over standard WiFi devices is the cost.  The 2 station AC3000 set retails for $379 on Amazon.

If you find yourself with WiFi coverage or throughput challenges, I recommend that you check out Orbi.  As always, please contact me with any questions or to schedule an installation.


Approaching Technology for Home – Incrementalism vs One Big Project

Home improvement projects can usually be divided into those that need to be tackled as one big project and those that can be tackled in pieces.  Remodeling a kitchen is best done as one big project while upgrading the landscaping can be done in smaller chunks over time.  In both cases a master plan is a really good idea – it saves time, minimizes rework, and makes sure that you address the structural issues up front.  Changes to plumbing, electrical, and irrigation are expensive and disruptive when done late in the project.

In most cases, home technology can be added and upgraded incrementally without a cost penalty — as long as you have a plan or road map.  Your technology plan should include the overall scope for your projects – security, control, remote management, lighting, entertainment, and more.  Your scope then helps determine infrastructure requirements and core technology ecosystem.  Infrastructure in most cases consists of a combination of wired and wireless networks that are needed to carry music, video, and instructions throughout your home.  The primary network requirements are capacity and coverage — enough speed everywhere you need it.

Unlike most other home infrastructure, technology has multiple standards and ecosystems.  If you purchase a new lamp, you know that you can take it home and plug it into any standard wall outlet and it will work.  With technology, you need to make choices.  Think PC vs Mac or iPhone vs Android.  Tech ecosystems is a topic for another day, but suffice it to say that you are better off making a choice up front to save time, money, and headaches later.

With your plan in hand and infrastructure choices made, you are in the best position to move forward with confidence and tackle projects as your priorities dictate and your budget allows.

We are here to help at every step of the way, from planning through delivery.


Observations on Amazon’s Echo

Amazon released their voice-directed assistant Amazon Echo in November, 2014 and it has been an amazing sales success.  There have been over 5 million units sold since the introduction and there are now 3 different versions to choose from.  We have been an Echo home since 2016 and I have received a lot of questions about my experience with the Echo products.   New capabilities are added regularly, so things will change. Here is a summary of my observations and experiences at the time of this post.

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