Netgear’s Outdoor Satellite expands your Orbi wireless network to the pool

Just ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, Netgear introduced the Orbi Outdoor Satellite (RBS50Y). As the name states, the device expands your Orbi-based wireless network beyond the confines of your home or office, so you have local, solid internet connectivity while cutting the grass, lounging by the pool, or firing up the company’s grill in the parking lot. Netgear says this new device broadcasts up to 2,500 square feet of additional coverage.

In the overall networking scheme, Netgear’s Orbi system sits between your standard router setup and mesh-based networking kits. The typical Orbi kit contains two devices: One that serves as a router and a nearly identical unit that serves as a satellite. Both units provide 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections, but they also include a third 5GHz connection that is dedicated to Orbi-to-Orbi communication.

That said, the data passed between Orbi units doesn’t interfere with the data passed between the Orbi units and connected devices. This “tri-band” setup makes for better home or office coverage because the satellite isn’t just repeating a degraded signal captured from the router. You can move satellites, too, to better fill annoying dead spots where typical routers can’t reach.

Netgear’s Orbi system is also designed to accommodate additional satellite units. That is where Netgear’s new Outdoor Satellite comes in, which is supported by the company’s home and “pro” systems for business. Just install the satellite anywhere outside, load up the Orbi App on a mobile device, and have the Orbi Router find and connect to the new satellite.

According to Netgear, the Outdoor Satellite is weather-resistant, so you will always have a connection while dancing in the rain, or digging the house out of 10 feet of snow. It includes “flexible” placement options such as mounting it to a wall with the included kit, or placing it on a stand. Even more, the Orbi system keeps devices connected while you move in and out of the home or office, removing the need to reconnect.

In its entirety, the Orbi network broadcasts one network name despite serving up 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections. It also provides a separate guest network so friends, visiting family members, and business partners can troll the internet without tarnishing your main connection. You can create a guest network using Netgear’s mobile app, or by digging into the router’s web-based interface.

On a technical note, the new satellite transmits four outgoing and four incoming Wireless AC streams to other Orbi units. Meanwhile, each unit provides two outgoing and two incoming 5GHz streams, and two outgoing and two incoming 2.4GHz streams to connected devices. That equals to connection speeds of up to 867Mbps on the 5GHz band, and up to 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. The device also consists of a quad-core processor, 512MB of memory, and 256MB of local storage.

Unfortunately, the new Outdoor Satellite doesn’t come cheap, costing $329. That’s more than the three kits sold to consumers, but $170 less than the kit Netgear offers to businesses.

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