Netgear Orbi 970 Series Review: Excellent but Exorbitant

While the Netgear Orbi 970 Series has impressed me over the past month, it is not flawless. I first tried to test this system before it was released and had to give up after encountering frequent network drops. To be fair, I had issues testing many pre-certified Wi-Fi 7 systems, particularly with Google’s Pixel 8 (and I’m not the only one). Netgear has updated the Orbi 970 firmware, so it runs far more smoothly. I had issues with the Xiaomi 14 Ultra this time, but deleting its network settings and reconnecting fixed my problems.

Premium Price

There’s a lot to like about the Netgear Orbi 970 Series, but it makes the Eero Max 7 (7/10, WIRED Review) and the TP-Link Deco BE85 (7/10, WIRED review) look relatively affordable, and both of those systems slightly bested it in many of my tests. The scenario where the Orbi comes out on top is for very large homes with multi-gig internet connections. If you have a big house, you can likely afford it, but why pay more? One possible answer is the extras.

Netgear Armor is a comprehensive security package with many features. It scans devices when they connect to your network, proactively blocks threats, including malware and dodgy websites, and includes Bitdefender Security and VPN service to safeguard your devices outside the home. This package certainly adds value, and some families will find it very useful, though you only get the first year for free. It costs $100 a year after that.

Basic parental controls are free but limit you to creating profiles for your kids’ devices and pausing their internet. If you want to set limits, track website and app usage, apply age-appropriate filters, set bedtimes, and more, you need Smart Parental Controls at $8 a month or $70 a year after the 30-day trial. These are comprehensive parental controls, but that’s a hefty extra fee.

While the subscription model is now dominant, Asus still offers much of the same functionality for free with its router range. It’s not quite as user-friendly, but you can tweak more settings. If you prefer the set-and-forget approach, you can save hundreds with the Eero Max 7 at $1,700 for a three-pack or $1,150 for a two-pack (less if you wait for a sale). It is every bit as easy to use, and an Eero Plus subscription at $100 a year includes everything you get with Netgear Armor and Smart Parental Controls, plus genuinely handy extra smart home features and one of our favorite password managers.

You might pay a premium for some consumer electronic brands because you love the design or for unique features, but that’s harder to justify for something as utilitarian as a router. The Netgear Orbi 970 Series is undoubtedly an excellent mesh, but it doesn’t do much, if anything, that another mesh system cannot do for less. Ultimately, it is overpriced and overkill for most folks.

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