Comcast xFi Pods vs. Netgear Orbi – the battle between two meshWi-Fi 6 networks

It can be frustrating dealing with a weak Wi-Fi signal, such as when you go to certain rooms in your home and notice inefficiencies in the signal. Instead of buying an expensive router though, the mesh system of networking might be more appealing – as shown through the battle of the Netgear Orbi and Comcast xFi pods.

The xFi pods come from Comcast, and we consider them as a newer version of the xFi Advanced Gateway – where you can use a combination of a router and modem with your XFinity Internet connection. The newest xFi pods have support for Wi-Fi 6 connectivity as well.

Like the xFi pods, the Orbi has multiple units and also comes at an expensive price. However, the Orbi still retains the better speeds overall, despite both router models offering to spread the Wi-Fi signal throughout your home.

What are the differences between the xFi pods and Orbi?

 
Comcast xFi pods
Netgear Orbi
Dimensions (inches)
7.9 x 2.6 x 2.8 (slightly smaller in comparison)
8 x 6.4 x 3.1 (bulkier due to the height)
Maximum throughput speeds
1200 Mbps
1700 Mbps
Upload speeds
10 Mbps
200 Mbps
Download speeds
250 Gbps
500 Mbps
 

Comcast xFi pods vs. Netgear Orbi – How they compare

Performance

The Orbi uses a 2×2 router setup, and it can handle two data streams to configure the devices properly, as per the band you are using at that moment. It also adds the latest MU-MIMO technology to maximize efficiency of data transmission, which the xFi pods lack. Each device runs on a Qualcomm Wi-Fi control chip of 710MHz, and has a storage space of 4GB and RAM of 512MB. The result is very strong, with a combined average throughput of 552 Mbps at close proximity, and a speed of 447 Mbps at a distance of 50 feet.

On the other hand we do not like the data usage in the xFi pods. In terms of the normal Comcast plan, you have a maximum monthly limit of data at 1TB. While this is manageable for normal consumers because of light bandwidth use, it is difficult for a user who does heavy-bandwidth activities frequently – such as uploading videos, gaming, and streaming. The fortunate part is that Comcast does offer upgrades, but these come at an additional cost that we struggle to think whether it is worth it.

While we were not the most enthusiastic about paying hundreds of dollars in order to access the best Wi-Fi connection services, it is probably a tradeoff you can handle for a while before moving to another router that offers better connectivity services.The company behind the xFi pods is not perfect, but the good thing is that the initial dread of using them is not the same as the actual experience – even though we are not fans of the uploading speeds.

The Orbi is the better pick here, as the performance is much better, even in the download and upload speeds.

Design

The Orbi routers have color-code LEDs that make it easier to know what is going on. When they are starting up, the LED glows white, magenta indicates lack of a connection, amber indicates a weak connection, and blue indicates a strong connection.

Orbi routers also transmitthe data on three bands, with one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands. One of these 5GHz bands acts as the backhaul that caters to the satellite Orbi and your client devices, which enables the connection to remain fast and strong throughout use. The only point of note is that you cannot randomly decide the unit that acts as the satellite and which one is the router device; the package already indicates which one works on which function.

The xFi pods come in a great appearance, in a nice-looking white design. If you decide to use the pods to make a mesh network in your home, the pods will still work well with the new Advanced Gateway. This Gateway is not automatically available to all users of the xFi pods, unfortunately – you will need to pick any of the Comcast plans that have a minimum speed of 300 Mbps per month for you to qualify.

The xFi pods have an advantage here because of their compact design, which allows them to fit in a variety of places in your home.

Setup

You can use the app to set the xFi pods up, and monitor all the devices that are connected to a specific pod in the app – even though the manufacturer claims that the pods are smart enough to troubleshoot and self-monitor autonomously. There is a catch though – if you happen to be a Comcast internet user and you are using your own router or modem, the benefit of the AdvancedCyber security feature will not apply to you; it only applies to Comcast users that also use a Comcast gateway.

In the case of the Orbi, Netgear has taken the task of setting up a home network system that can set itself up, as the devices are already pre-paired and the installation does not need extra encryption or knowledge of IP addresses. You can set it up through a Mac or PC that is connected to the router through an Ethernet cable, or through a smartphone device (the Netgear app) through Wi-Fi.

We can see that the Orbi once again leads in the ease of setup and usage.

Comcast xFi pods vs. Netgear Orbi – A comparison review

Comcast xFi pods – Overview

Xfinity Comcast xFi Pods WiFi Network Range Extenders - Only Compatible With Xfinity Rented Routers, Not Compatible With Customer Owned Routers (1-pack (Single Pod), White)
  • Only compatible with Comcast rented routers/modems. Not compatible with consumer owned routers....
  • Plug-In and Easy Self-Install. Self-Optimizing Network. More Consistent WiFi Coverage

This router comes with a four dual-band antenna design, and these antennas have support for both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. It also include ZigBee and Bluetooth LE radios that you can use to connect to IoT devices, three 1 Gbps Ethernet ports, and one 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port.

The other thing to note about the xFi pods is that they automatically include the xFi Advanced Cyber security software, which aims to offer additional security in the network. The good news though is that it is available to you as part of using the system, and does not come at an additional charge. You can also choose to manage it through the xFi mobile app.

Pros

  • Compact design that looks like a small speaker
  • Reliable connectivity

Cons

  • Unavailable in many stores and states
  • Less than ideal customer services
  • Expensive

View Price on Amazon

Netgear Orbi router – Overview

NETGEAR Orbi Tri-band Whole Home Mesh WiFi System with 3Gbps Speed (RBK50) – Router & Extender Replacement Covers Up to 5,000 sq. ft., 2-Pack Includes 1 Router & 1 Satellite White
  • No more dead zones: Whole home mesh WiFi coverage of up to 5,000 sq. ft. and 25+ devices. Mesh technology...
  • Tri-band backhaul: A dedicated band between your Orbi router and satellite frees up the other two bands...

When it comes to the Orbi, this is among the fastest and strongest routers in terms of performance, even if you choose not to use the mesh extension. The router is powerful enough to fill an entire home with Wi-Fi, and its dedicated router-to-extension channel helps it to perform at the maximum levels of throughput that fit your needs.

However, it is quite expensive, coming at an average price of $400 for a two-pack kit. However, it is definitely worth its price, especially if you have a lot of ground you need to cover.

Pros

  • Comes with MU-MIMO technology
  • Very phenomenal performance
  • Dedicated router-to-extension data channel
  • Gives you a choice between he browser or app setup

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Limited functions on the mobile app
  • The devices are relatively large

View Price on Amazon

Verdict: So what is better? The xFi pods or Orbi?

Even though both the Orbi and xFi pods are expensive, the Orbi is our ultimate pick of this review. It is definitely worth the investment you place in it, and offers a much better throughput speed for both the upload and download activities.

FAQs

Can I use the Netgear Orbi for XFinity internet?

Yes, the good thing is that you can use the Orbi with any ISP (internet service provider). All you need to do is set up the Orbi in Access Point mode, with the Netgear website providing the tutorial.

Can the xFi pods work with business class Comcast?

Unfortunately, no. it only works with residential internet.

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