Once a manufacturer of only routers and switches, Netgear becomes more hip with every new product launch. Today, the company presents Orbi Voice Smart Speaker, a router that includes a Wi-Fi network based on its Orbi WiFi expansion technology, a built-in Amazon Alexa smart speaker and high quality Harman Kardon audio.  Orbi Voice Smart Speaker can connect to any Orbi WiFi system, and extend the wireless network coverage of a home to 4,500 square feet with performance up to 2.2 gigabits per second at home. It has a built-in Amazon audio assistant in an Orbi Voice Satellite device and has premium sound from Harman Kardon. It will be sent in September for $ 300 to $ 430.
San Jose, California-based company showed the new network unit at IFA's technical fair in Berlin. With Orbi Voice Smart Speaker, you can ask Alexa to do something, such as playing music from the most popular music services, setting alarms, controlling the internet of things, checking traffic, getting weather, accessing sports results and more. And you do not need a separate Amazon Echo device. The device is built on the Qualcomm network platform, and Qualcomm noted that this is the first in a line of products that logically connects both a network function and a client device.
Orbi Voice has a built-in four-microphone array and farfelt voice recognition, allowing Orbi Voice to hear you from the whole room. To easily adjust the volume and equalizer controls, you can easily use the Orbi mobile app to adjust the treble and bass that comes from 3.5-inch front-facing woofer and 1-inch tweeter.
Netgear product manager Amit Rele said in an interview with VentureBeat that tri-band Wi-Fi and Fastlane3 tech built-in Orbi enable fast Wi-Fi networks at home, on a longer range than traditional routers can do. As a result, network Wi-Fi systems have grown 59 percent in the US since 2016, according to market researcher NPD. Smart speakers with Alexa have also grown fast.
"People put speech assistants, smart speakers and the internet of things devices in different parts of the house," said Rele. "They buy a smart speaker and realize they need better Wi-Fi in the bedroom."
Harman Kardon offered his expertise on how to design the smart speaker, such as how to make the speaker elements, how much power should be added to each frequency range, and how to set it to sound properly, says Rele. The device has a 3.5-inch woofer, a 1-inch tweeter, 35 watts peak power and 63-20 kHz response. I listened to a little bit of "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson on the device, and it was pounding out the bass as it should.
"It's not just a marketing thing," he said. "It's about designing it right."
Orbi Voice has an elegant and modern design. You will not be embarrassed to show it on a bookshelf, table or kitchen table. It's a bit fatter than an Amazon Echo, but maybe a little less than an Apple HomePod. Nevertheless, combining a voice service, advanced audio and high performance Wi-Fi in one device eliminates the mess of three individual products to deliver the same features.
"If a bunch of people come over for dinner or a barbecue, you'll be able to put this where people are going and it's not always where you have strong Wi-Fi," says Rele.
With Orbi Voice, you can ask Alexa to play music from the most popular music stream providers, including Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Deezer and other services. Or, you can turn to Orbi Voice and ask Alexa to play audio books from Audible, podcasts, radio stations, news barriers and more.