Netgear ORBI Modem
Last updated date: February 7, 2019
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We looked at the top 1 Modems and dug through the reviews from 4 of the most popular review sites including New York Times Wirecutter, Tom's Guide, Tech Radar, The Verge and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Modem you should buy.
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From The Manufacturer
Orbi Whole Home WiFi System with Built-in Cable Modem is the industry's first Cable Modem Router WiFi System with auto-updates and super-fast Tri-band WiFi. DOCSIS 3.0 with FastLane3 Technology delivers maximum performance and uninterrupted connections. CBK40 Replaces your existing cable modem and router and works with XFINITY from Comcast, Spectrum, Cox & more.
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An Overview On Modems
In-home Wi-Fi has become the standard for almost every household in America. In fact, 82 percent of U.S. homes have broadband internet, up 10 percent from a decade ago. Generally, when you sign up for internet, your provider will give you the option to rent a modem that’s proven to work on its service. However, chances are, you can save on that rent by purchasing a modem that may even work much better than what they’re issuing.
But buying a modem can be overwhelming if you’ve never shopped for one before. Weighing one modem’s performance against another means deciphering terms like Mbps and downstream channels. Although these terms may seem technical in nature, they’re crucial to weighing one modem against another.
Mbps refers to megabits per second, which calculates the amount of data that can pass through your network within one second. Data is measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB), depending on the volume. There are eight megabits in one megabyte and 1,000 megabytes in one gigabyte. All you need to know as you’re shopping is that the more Mbps, the faster download and upload speeds you’ll need.
When you’re shopping for a modem, you’ll typically see terminology like “16×4.” These numbers represent how many downstream and upstream channels are supported by that modem. You’ll likely either want a 16×4 or 8×4 modem, which means you have either 16 or eight downstream channels and four upstream channels. With a 16×4 modem, you’ll get up to 680Mbps for downloads and only half of that with an 8×4 modem.
One problem with buying a modem versus renting one, however, is that technology is always changing. If your area hasn’t yet switched over to fiber, you may be in for a major upgrade in the future. When something like that happens, the modem you bought may no longer be compatible. By renting, you’re always ready for these upgrades without having to worry about wasting money. However, you may find that the money you spent renting your equipment could have easily been made up by purchasing a modem and then switching it out for a newer model when the network upgraded.
But do you need to splurge for a higher-priced modem with bigger numbers all around? That depends. If you stream video from multiple devices at once, or someone in your household engages in activities like gaming or video editing, you may want to go for the latest and greatest. For many households, an 8×4 modem with 343Mbps or 686Mbps will likely suffice. However, if you have the extra money, it can’t hurt to go with the better model to account for your future needs.
Speaking of compatibility, make sure the modem you choose works with your cable provider before you purchase it. This is usually mentioned in the item description, but if you don’t know for sure, contact your cable company to ask. Even if it says your modem is compatible, it may be worth calling since you may have an internet tier that wasn’t available when the modem was put on the market.
DYWM Fun Fact
Modem, short for modulator demodulator, both modulates and demodulates signals as they come in and go out of a network. In the early days of home networking, a modem would use a landline to bring those signals in and out. It was much slower, took a while to connect and tied up the phone line while in use. This was a bigger problem in the early days of home internet use because many households still used their home phones for the majority of their phone communication. However, home networks weren’t quite as challenged in those days, since technologies like video streaming and smartphones weren’t around. Today’s home internet uses dedicated lines that are a combination of analog and digital to carry signals in and out. They not only rely on a modem to bring the signals in and out, but also a router to allow the devices within a home to connect wirelessly.
The Modem Buying Guide
- The first thing to search for when reading a modem’s description is its compatibility. The Motorola MG7550 Modem, Netgear CM600 Modem and Motorola MB8600 Modem are compatible with Comcast Xfinity, Cox and Charter, which are three of the biggest providers. The Cisco DPC3010 Modem on the other hand, will work if you have Cox Communications but is not compatible with Comcast Xfinity.
- Signal strength is also worth considering. The Motorola MG7550 Modem uses Wireless Power Boost and AnyBeam beamforming, which focuses your signal in a specific direction to provide better reception at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. This takes your signal to the legal limit the FCC allows.
- Downstream and upstream channels play a significant role in the speed of your downloads and uploads. The Motorola MB8600 Modem offers 32×8 support, while the Netgear CM600 Modem is 24×8 capable and the Motorola MG7550 Modem offers 16×4 speeds. The Cisco DPC3010 Modem lags behind with only eight downstream channels.
- Another thing to look for in a modem is DOCSIS technology. This technology is the preferred standard of cable providers. DOCSIS 3.1 technology offers enhanced security features, reduced latency and faster downloads than fiber cable. It also has a sleep mode that helps conserve energy. The Motorola MB8600 Modem features DOCSIS 3.1 technology, while the Motorola MG7550 Modem, Netgear CM600 Modem and Cisco DPC3010 Modem all have 3.0. DOCSIS 3.0, which is still more than acceptable, supports more than 100 Mbps.
- Many modems come with a two-year warranty, which will protect you if it suddenly malfunctions due to a defect in manufacturing. But the Netgear CM600 Modem comes with only a one-year warranty. You’ll get Netgear’s reputation for dependable performance, but if you’re concerned about a malfunction, this might be worth considering.
- When you look at the price to rent a modem through your cable provider, you may first want to check out the purchase price for one. You can get the Cisco DPC3010 Modem for just under $50, with the Netgear CM600 Modem retailing for less than $100. Both the Motorola MG7550 Modem and the Motorola MG7550 Modem sell for between $100 and $200.
- The Motorola MG7550 Modem is both a modem and a router, which means it can not only link you to the internet, but it can also link the computers and devices within your home to each other. However, when buying a modem/router combo, it’s important to note that you’ll have to purchase a completely new unit if part of it malfunctions or you want to upgrade one or the other. However, having both units in one means less equipment and cabling, which can help reduce the clutter in your home office.
- Overheating can be an issue with any electronic equipment. Without proper venting, you may find your modem locks up on a regular basis, forcing you to restart it. The Motorola MB8600 Modem is designed with airflow in mind, so you’ll have less of a risk of inconvenient downtime.
- With some modems, you’ll notice annoying slowdowns occasionally. The Netgear CM600 Modem doesn’t have the lags seen with comparable modems from other brands.
- While most modern modems are fairly reliable, you may find the Cisco DPC3010 Modem is less reliable than other models.
- Occasionally, you’ll need to reboot your modem, whether it’s due to your provider’s updates or overheating. A power button, like the one the Netgear CM600 Modem has, can make this process more convenient. Otherwise, you’ll need to unplug and replug your modem in to restart it.
- Another usability factor to consider is where the screen is located. The Netgear CM600 Modem’s screen is off to the side a little, making it more difficult to see, especially from a distance. The Motorola MG7550 Modem, Cisco DPC3010 Modem and the Motorola MB8600 Modem all have forward-facing screens.
- Before you buy, take a look at where you plan to keep your modem. While many modems stand vertically, the Cisco DPC3010 Modem is built to set horizontally, which means it will be 11.1 inches wide by 2.2 inches high as opposed to, for example, the Motorola MG7550 Modem, which is only 2.8 inches wide and 10 inches high.
- Although we don’t often think about it, as soon as you put your home’s devices online, you’re at risk of an attack. Security is an important consideration. Yes, you’ll set passwords on your home network and each device. But you should also consider the Motorola MB8600 Modem, which has a chipset that keeps you safe against denial of service attacks.
- In addition to securing your home network against an attack, make sure your modem provides protection against lightning strikes and power surges. The Motorola MG7550 Modem and Motorola MB8600 Modem both have built-in circuits to keep your equipment safe from Mother Nature.
- If you rent from your cable company, they’ll likely set up your modem. If you’re buying on your own or replacing an existing modem, you’ll probably have to set it up yourself. The Motorola MG7550 Modem has a Quick Start installation guide to get you up and running. It also features fast activation for the most popular internet service providers.