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FeibusTech: market insight & analysis. Influencer, analyst in IoT, digital health/fitness, wearables, connected car, smart home, privacy/security. Columnist for Tech section of USA TODAY and Fortune.

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FeibusTech Blog

Smart Speaker & Mesh WiFi: Netgear Jumpstarts New Category

Mike Feibus

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Netgear today unveiled Orbi Voice, a first-of-its-kind hybrid product that merges the best of two fast-growing smart home products: whole-home mesh Wi-Fi and high-quality smart speakers. 

The speaker is co-developed and co-branded with premium audio maker Harman Kardon. But it's more than just a great-sounding speaker. Orbi Voice also acts as a mesh-network satellite. So rather than slowing Wi-Fi with real-time bandwidth demands - as many intelligent speakers do - Orbi Voice actually improves performance by managing communications as well as extending the network into far corners of the home.

Orbi Voice is powered by Qualcomm chipsets, and makes use of the wireless pioneer's latest self-organizing network, or SON, technology.

So, better together! I'm sure we'll be seeing more combination mesh Wi-Fi/smart speaker combinations, at different price points. Speaking of which ... 

If you already have an Orbi mesh system, you can buy the Orbi Voice Satellite as a standalone item, for $299.99. Or you can pick up a kit for $429.99. Those are suggested retail prices, so you might be able to find them for less.

I'll be adding the Orbi Voice Satellite to my Orbi Pro network soon. So stay tuned for my thoughts on this category-creating product!