With Netgear Orbi Voice, the networking firm has finally produced what we’ve wanted to see since smart speakers and wireless mesh routers first arrived: one product that does both. Announced during IFA 2018, Netgear Orbi Voice is a wireless mesh satellite and smart speaker in one.
Netgear Orbi Voice is the firm’s logical progression for its Orbi line of wireless mesh products, bringing Amazon Alexa smarts and a 35-watt audio system inside a nearly identical-looking product to its line of wireless mesh routers. The biggest difference in design is the touch-capacitive surface on top for activating Alexa with your fingers.
Well, that and the fabric mesh that wraps the whole thing … and the subwoofer in its base.
Anyway, the Orbi Voice is designed to be additive to an existing Netgear Orbi wireless mesh network – you can’t start an Orbi network with this product as it’s not a router. For that reason, Netgear’s selling the Orbi Voice on its own for $299 (£279, €329) or paired with an Orbi Tri-Band WiFi Router for $429 (£429, €499) later this September.
Exciting news – for smart home newbies
While this WiFi booster-meets-smart speaker contains Harman Kardon-tuned audio through a 3.5-inch front-facing woofer and 1-inch tweeters on top of boosting a tri-band Wi-Fi network across 4,500 square feet, it’s definitely one of the more expensive smart speakers out there. For instance, an Amazon Echo speaker on its own is just $99 (£89, AU$119).
Knowing that, it’s clear that the Orbi Voice is best for folks just getting into this whole smart home thing that own neither a smart speaker nor a wireless mesh router. Getting both essential pieces to a smart home in a single package is plenty convenient.
However, the cross section of people that own one of these necessary smart home pieces and not the other is bound to be a narrow one, and neither situation sees you saving any money with this solution. Nevertheless, Orbi Voice could be an ideal express ticket to a working smart home for a whole lot of interested homeowners and renters.
- IFA 2018 is Europe's biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new phones, watches and other tech as they're announced.