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.
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Joe Osborne is the Senior Technology Editor at Insider Inc. His role is to leads the technology coverage team for the Business Insider Shopping team, facilitating expert reviews, comprehensive buying guides, snap deals news and more. Previously, Joe was TechRadar's US computing editor, leading reviews of everything from gaming PCs to internal components and accessories. In his spare time, Joe is a renowned Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master – and arguably the nicest man in tech.