Netgear, known for its routers and modems, has expanded its Orbi series by adding a rather unique combination of features -- WiFi meets HiFi plus Alexa. It's all the rage to combine technologies and features to create hybrid devices -- take for instance the smart-speakers and displays, or smartphones and tablets that become phablets. So it's not surprising that more interesting combos are being discovered at this week's tech trade fair, IFA 2018 in Berlin.
One such innovation comes from Netgear, which introduced what it calls the “world's first mesh WiFi system with Alexa built-in smart speaker and audio by Harman Kardon.”
For those not familiar with a mesh WiFi system like that of Orbi, it consists of multiple hubs placed around a larger home or small office that communicate with one another to provide WiFi hotspots around each hub. Generally, two or three are purchased as a package, they're easy to set up and have a simple central manageable system, practically configuring themselves.
And now the original white Orbi hubs can be replaced -- or expanded -- with Orbi Voice, which looks similar to the hubs but is a smart speaker. Netgear's Orbi provides the WiFi, Harman Kardon the premium HiFi, while Amazon Alexa brings its smarts. The ‘WiFi meets HiFi' Orbi Voice device can be asked to play music from streaming services, including Spotify, Amazon Music and Pandora, as well set an alarm or check for information on traffic, weather, sports and so on.
Netgear's announcement notes that the Orbi Mesh WiFi System (RBK50V) consisting of the Orbi Tri-Band WiFi Router plus one Orbi Voice Smart Speaker and WiFi Satellite will be available later next month for a suggested retail price of $429.99 (€499.99).
For those who have an Orbi WiFi system, the add-on Orbi Voice Smart Speaker and WiFi Mesh satellite (RBS40V) by NETGEAR will be available this fall for a suggested retail price of $299.99 (€329.99).