by Rick Broida February 24, 2017 4:35 AM PST @cheapskateblog
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I'm writing this from the folks' place in Florida, where it's sunny and beautiful and the Wi-Fi coverage is atrocious. Some homes, I've learned, just won't let signals travel very far. Which is why mesh networks have started to catch on in a big way -- they effectively solve the problem of weak Wi-Fi.
Unfortunately, the hardware tends to be expensive. Which is why a deal, even a small one, is worth sharing. And this is it: For a limited time, Amazon has the Netgear Orbi mesh-network system for $349.80 shipped. That's after clicking the "apply coupon" box just below the price.
Incidentally, if you're willing to consider used gear, Amazon's Warehouse Deals page currently has the Orbi for as low as $313.60, though it's unclear how many are available at that price. There are other packages priced slightly higher, but I'm not sure what's behind this structure. Not sure about warranty, either. It's not specified.
So the Orbi consists of one router and one satellite, and you can add satellites as needed until you achieve total Wi-Fi blanketing of your house. Plug everything in, run through a quick setup and bam, you're done.
Why not just install an inexpensive repeater? Honestly, I'd try that option first, though there are definitely limitations and hassles there. For example, a repeater can be fine if you need to boost connectivity for devices that stay put, like a Roku box. But if you're moving about the house with, say, a tablet, it may keep trying to connect to the wrong (that is, weaker) signal.
I haven't tried the Orbi myself (nor any other mesh network -- not yet), but the reviews are impressive: It gets a 4.6-star average from over 850 Amazon buyers and considerable praise from CNET.
That said, you should definitely look into things like compatibility with your current cable modem. And from what I can tell, the two Orbi boxes are fairly large, especially compared with the likes of the Eero mesh network. They're not what I would call decor-friendly.
I'll continue to be on the lookout for mesh deals, because I think these products are going to become very popular. In the meantime, if you just can't wait, here's at least a little bit of savings.
By the way, if you've used the Orbi or a similar mesh network, hit the comments and share your experiences!
Bonus deal: Somewhere in between the not-affordable-for-most Photoshop and the capable but behind-the-times GIMP, there's Corel PaintShop Pro. The Ultimate edition of this image-editing package normally sells for $99.99, but for a limited time, you can get PaintShop Pro X9 Ultimate for $14.99 -- a price that includes FastFlick Instant Slideshow Maker and the Winter Wonderland Creative Pack. Be sure to uncheck the download-insurance option to get that price. Want to learn more about the product? Here's a thorough review.
Bonus deal 2: Remember PlayOn Cloud, the streaming-video recorder service that takes your PC out of the equation? I continue to find it very useful in certain circumstances; an important tool in the cord-cutter's arsenal. Credits are normally 99 cents each, but if you want to stock up, you can get 50 PlayOn Cloud credits for $30. That's a better deal than when I first wrote about the service back in November. Make sure to read that post so you understand the particulars of how everything works.