Today’s review sees the NETGEAR Orbi LBR20 4G LTE router review. What makes the Orbi LBR20 so different is exactly how it works and what it offers compared to most other routers. Let’s go…
NETGEAR Orbi LBR20: Specifications
|Product Name||Orbi 4G LTE Advanced Wi-Fi Router|
|Dimensions||6.7 x 3.1 x 8.9 in (170 x 79 x 226 mm)|
|Weight (each unit)||1.72 lb (0.78 kg)|
|Wi-Fi Specs||Tri-band 2×2 Wi-Fi 5 AC2200:
2x 5GHz (866 Mbps), 1x 2.4 GHz (400 Mbps)
|Celluar||LTE Cat 18 up to 1.2Gbps|
|4G Bands||LTE-FDD: B2,4,5,7,12,13,14,17,25, 26,29,30,66,71 / LTE-TDD: B41|
|AP (bridge mode) Support||Yes|
|Dedicated Wireless Backhaul||No|
|Wired Backhaul Support||Yes|
|Network Ports||One Gigabit WAN/LAN port, One Gigabit LAN port|
NETGEAR Orbi LBR20: Video Overview
NETGEAR Orbi LBR20: Closer Look
The NETGEAR Orbi LBR20 arrived in a large branded box with details and specifications on the sides. The router is well protected by cardboard inserts, accessories are organised into a separate cardboard box to prevent damage. This change away from plastic and foam protection is finally trending across manufacturers yet it’s still worth calling out and applauding to ensure that it continues. The only plastic is by way of a bag containing the router, which presumably protects the router from dust and dirt before being packed into the retail box and it’s something we would like to see eliminated as well in the future.
An assortment of paperwork including a Quick Installation Guide & WiFi info card can be found along with a 30w mains power supply with US, EU and UK adapters and, finally, a 1m white Cat 5e flat Ethernet cable.
In line with the successful Orbi brand of routers, if you’ve seen any other model before it’s no surprise the LBR20 is following suit. The LBR20 is housed in a curved white plastic unibody and overall is an attractive unit with excellent build quality. Both the 4G LTE and Wi-Fi antennas are housed inside the unit giving it its height.
Taking a look at the rear gives us nothing much until you get to the bottom where the I/O is housed. A pair of LTE SMA antenna connectors are available, as well as a WAN/LAN and dedicated LAN port (2 in total only). A DC-in jack with power indicator LED, reset button, Nano-SIM tray to insert the sim card and a sync button for pairing optional Orbi satellites.
The bottom of the LBR20 houses 4 rubber feet giving room for ventilation, some ventilation grills and the product label, including the default out-of-the-box network name (SSID) and key.
LED’s on the Orbi LBR20 come in the form of a white LED, which pulses white when powering on. Once a broadband connection is made it turns solid white for a minute or so before turning off. When connecting to a 4G connection or a connection fails the ring pulses with a nice purple colour. Again, once connected to 4G the purple colour turns solid purple for a minute or so before turning off.
Finally, the choice of internet connection you use also depends on the number of Ethernet ports available for LAN use. Using the Orbi LBR20 as a broadband-connected router, and subsequently the option to use 4G LTE as backup renders the first Ethernet port only available as a WAN port.
This leaves the second port the only one available as a LAN port. In this case, an additional Gigabit switch would probably be needed to connect more than one Ethernet device.
Should you choose to use the Orbi LBR20 with the 4G LTE connection, you can turn the WAN port into an additional LAN port in the settings.
NETGEAR Orbi LBR20: Setup
The Orbi LBR20’s selling point here is the fact that it can be configured to work with either a broadband connection (WAN) or set up to use a 4G LTE connection.
This makes the LBR20 a great option for anyone that doesn’t have regular broadband internet available or an unreliable connection.
There’s also the option to use the 4G LTE connection as a backup and/or failover should your regular broadband connection fail.
Setup is incredibly easy, and NETGEAR recommends completing it using the “Orbi app” on your smartphone and, amazingly, the smartphone app (iOS and Android) includes everything you need to get the Orbi LBR20 going perfectly and do in-depth configuration, something not traditionally available on smartphone apps.
To test, regular broadband was set up with the option to use 4G as a backup.
Typing in 192.168.1.1 or orbilogin.com in an internet browser will also allow you to make configuration changes and we recommend you do this once the initial setup is done on the mobile app.
The web GUI is no different from other Orbi products and is also in line with traditional NETGEAR routers so owners of previous models will be familiar with it no matter what.
The web GUI, as usual, is spread into two separate menu’s covering basic and advanced options.
The basic settings cover Internet settings, basic Wireless configuration, Attached Devices list, Parental Controls, Guest Network configuration and the Security options.
The advanced options cover the Setup Wizard: a fancy name for the out-of-the-box setup, Setup options: which cover both the broadband and 4G LTE connections, Security, Administration and Advanced Setup.
One thing that was noticed when browsing the Advanced Wireless settings menu was that Implicit beamforming, MU-MIMO & Fast Roaming were disabled by default. Go ahead and turn all of them on to get the best out of the LBR20 and how it works. Hopefully, NETGEAR will have them enabled by default in a future update.
Here there is a hint into the Daisy-Chain Topology. This is the hidden backhaul connection between the LBR20 and satellites you may wish to add in the future.
As the LBR20 is part of the Orbi line-up, existing models are already available for purchase to add mesh networking options and this is the reason the LBR20 is sold individually. Essentially as a replacement for an existing Orbi package with the ability to add the LBR20 with 4G LTE support should you wish, or add additional satellites down the line.
Back to the backhaul though, and the LBR20 uses the second (hidden) of the 5GHz channels as the backhaul which is how the mesh networking works. This operates in the DFS channel, specifically on channel 108 in our case.
This channel also allows 5GHz Wi-Fi devices to connect to the router when it’s not being used in a mesh network as a traditional tri-band router would.
Finally, the LBR20 can mesh using Ethernet as its backhaul. But adding more than one satellite when using a broadband connection would require a separate Gigabit switch due to the LBR20 having just 2 Ethernet ports.
As satellites are being mentioned constantly, the Orbi LBR20 works with NETGEAR’s RBS50 and RBS20 satellites, though we’d recommend the RBS20 solution here as the LBR20 runs at a matching AC2200 instead of AC3000 that the RBS50 offers.
NETGEAR Orbi LBR20: Testing
The Orbi LBR20 offers tri-band Wi-Fi 5 or AC channels with the 2.4GHz band at 400Mbps and both of the 5GHz bands running at 866Mbps for a total bandwidth of up to 2.2Gbps hence the AC2200 branding.
Testing methodology: Network speed test (iPerf) using a laptop with AX210 WiFi 6 (AC) card installed connected to file server (Host) on 2.5Gbps Ethernet through the router in question.
Close Range Performance: 2-metres (measured in MegaBits)
- 5GHz: 711 Mbps
- 2.4GHz: 232 Mbps
Mid-Range (Downstairs): 10-metres (measured in MegaBits)
- 5GHz: 456 Mbps
- 2.4GHz: 161 Mbps
Long Range (Downstairs, 2 rooms away): 15-metres (measured in MegaBits)
- 5GHz: 322 Mbps
- 2.4GHz: 109 Mbps
The Orbi LBR20 did well in terms of coverage. It can handle a home of about 2000 ft² (186 m²) with a typical amount of walls when placed in the middle.
Add about 50% coverage per satellite (RBS50 & RBS20) when placed in appropriate locations if/when needed for larger properties.
4G LTE Speed Test
All in: not a bad result for the LBR20 here on the Vodafone network connected on 4G. Both the speeds (Mbps) and ping (ms) obtained here were pretty good overall.
That being said, 4G LTE use is subject to varying speeds during peak times of day, as well as geographical differences in coverage and can be affected by your router’s location in the building and other external structures, but these are out of our control and are to be expected.
You’ll be pleased to know all UK mobile providers will work with the Orbi LBR20.
NETGEAR Orbi LBR20: Closing Thoughts
The NETGEAR Orbi LBR20 is a hybrid 4G LTE router. Meaning:
1. It works as a traditional router with a broadband/fibre (WAN) connection.
2. It works as a standalone 4G LTE router.
3. The option to use it as a broadband router with the 4G LTE connection kicking in the event the broadband gets disconnected (failover).
Which, we can confirm this does indeed work very well and takes about 15-20 seconds to switch over, so downtime is minimal.
The included WiFi 5 (AC2200) works brilliantly and provided my house with great coverage throughout and held its own with the heavy use it was subjected to with constant gaming, working and content streaming barrage, all the things a typical home does daily.
Being part of the Orbi lineup, it’s no surprise that it works perfectly with other Orbi mesh networking products as expected. Again, we’d recommend adding NETGEAR’s RBS20 satellites if you’re not planning on replacing a pre-existing solution as the WiFi speeds match perfectly.
As expected a Guest Network is also available. Which, as you guessed it, can be enabled for guests to have easy access to the internet away from the network your primary devices are connected to.
NETGEAR Armour is a feature that needs a mention. We get that it’s a premium option, but competitors are offering a package included with the router, for the life of the router.
Also, once the 30-day trial is finished there’s no obligation to renew.
That being said, paying for Armour also gets you “unlimited” device protection so it’s not just a router package and this makes it a much more compelling option for anyone looking for an all-in-one device and router protection package for their whole household.
At £59.99/$69.99 per year it’s not a cheap package, but again, does provide router and device protection, including anti-virus, which covers smartphones, laptops, PC and Mac computers in partnership with BitDefender.
The Orbi mobile app is a great addition for making configuration changes and this can also be done remotely which is a great addition. Here you can also subscribe and remove the aforementioned NETGEAR Armour services.
Also available is Circle parental controls. Circle is a mobile app that lets you create profiles for members of your home, grouping together each person’s devices. From there you can then apply web-filtering rules to those devices, defining the types of websites and content that each person can view.
With Circle’s free account you can create profiles for each person in your house and assign their devices to them. You can set web filters based on age, so no matter what device is used the same restrictions apply.
Profiles can be manually paused, blocking internet access for all associated devices. A Premium upgrade for £4.99 a month allows you to set time limits, off time, automatic bedtimes and issue rewards, such as extra time allowance.
At the time of this review, the NETGEAR Orbi LBR20 is available at £400 on NETGEAR’s website, making this a substantial outlay. Especially when you could, reasonably, consider that a router with Wi-Fi 5 (AC) and a 4G LTE sim card slot is dated.
That being said, NETGEAR does already have a WiFi 6 (AX) solution with 5G connectivity but it costs north of £1000, and comes with beefier specs, which puts it out of a lot of people’s reach! Suddenly, the LBR20 is more reasonable.
With a nice overall aesthetic curved white unibody, power supply and Ethernet cable, a familiar and easy to use mobile app and web GUI for setup and configuration changes, and acceptable WiFi speeds and good range. Which all come together to make a good package, especially once you also factor in the price of standard 4G routers with similar options.
So, is the NETGEAR Orbi LBR20 for you?
If you live in an area with poor broadband speeds where 4G LTE connectivity could be a more viable option, or you need or want a constant internet connection with no compromises where you’re covered in the event your broadband connection is lost then the NETGEAR Orbi LBR20 is absolutely worth your consideration, once you can swallow the hefty price tag.
We’re pleased to award the NETGEAR Orbi LBR20 Play3r’s Editors Choice award.