I was pretty excited about the switch to Orbi: performance doubled and coverage was great. While it had an app, it also had a full web-based GUI for management and included a depth of configuration options. The fact that the web console was a bit clunky and hard to work with was fine because I could once again control my network from a laptop.
Then the updates started.
With every firmware update two things were obvious: they did not do enough testing/QA and the solution to fixing their problems was always “do a full factory reset.” I muddled through the first update and it took me about an hour to get all of the devices back on the network. Satellites were not clearly responding despite being hardwired with an Ethernet backhaul. Eventually everything was back up to speed and I went back to living a normal life.
Then one day the office satellite stopped showing up. In trying to get it back online I realized that there was a new firmware update available. In a move of stupidity I thought “I’ll just apply the update to this one satellite and leave the rest of the system updates for later because I have some important work to do now.” BIG mistake. I manually updated just that one satellite and instead, the system updated everything, both satellites and the router. Now I had zero connectivity and work to get done. After an hour of trying to troubleshoot this situation and get it stable I gave up and put the Amplifi back online so I could get my work done.
Later that evening I put the Orbi back online and tried to figure out what was going on. What I realized was that they had a bug that would not allow 2 satellites to be online together. As soon as I brought the second one online the router stopped working. It turns out that this is a known bug of the firmware. How could you possibly allow an update to a 3-unit system when you know that only 2 units will be operational?
Eventually, through lots of work, I was able to get all 3 units online but the stability was lacking. I was looking at the list of connected clients. There are ~34 clients on my network (depending on whether something is in sleep mode at the time.) I looked at Orbi’s list of connected clients: 32 devices. OK. Then 17 devices. Then 19 devices. Then 26 devices. Then 31 devices. Then 14 devices. This was all in the course of less than a minute.
Something was going on and it was frustrating. When I inquired on the Netgear forums, the standard response was “well, as long as all of the devices are working, don’t worry about what is showing up.” But in my mind when something simple appears broken that is a sign that there is even more under the hood that might not be working.
With all of that data I decided that Netgear is not going to stay in the house. Too sketchy for my needs, when it was performing it was great, but getting it stable (and keeping it stable) was more work than I cared for. I can only imagine the difficulty that the typical consumer would have with this product.