Review: Orcon Genius
When you name a product “Genius”, expectations are unsurprisingly high. does Orcon's ADSL2+ modem/router + VoIP live up to the hype?
Product type: ADSL2+ modem router
Editors rating: User rating:
RRP incl GST: $99 setup if no-contract, monthly rental costs apply.
- No gigabit ports
- Only IPv6 capable after firmware update
- Great ADSL performance
- Available with integrated VOIP handset
- Simple to set up
For the less technically minded amongst us, Genius makes naked ADSL and VoIP as easy as donning your birthday suit.
When you name a product “Genius”, expectations are unsurprisingly high.
The idea behind the Genius is to replace your phone and modem/router with one single gadget. The Genius handles all voice calls using Voice Over IP, and plugs into a naked DSL connection to provide data. That means you have to ditch your existing phone connection to go Genius. It’s a way to avoid the costs associated with a separate phone line, which, in these days of Skype, Google Voice, mobile phones and excellent Voice Over IP, may not be ideal for your situation.
Of course, whether the Genius is a one-size-fits-all solution depends on how well it solves the dual problems of data and voice.
First impressions are great – the Genius is a curved wedge of shiny piano-black plastic that looks at home on top of a desk as well as underneath it. It comes with a stand that allows it to prop upright. The informational lights across the front of the device are all blue, clear enough to spot at a distance, without being too distracting. Whether you get the Genius Lite, which comes with no handset, or opt for the handset-included Genius, the complementary handset can be attached on the side using a USB connector, and continues the sleek arc of the overall design. You can also detach it, and it sits on it’s own thank to it’s own dock and stand.
Setting up the Genius takes just a few minutes. Putting it together is as simple as assembling a few Lego bricks.
If you’re installing the Genius and you haven’t previously had ADSL installed, it’s as simple as plugging one end of the supplied phone cable into your phone socket, and the other end into the back of the Genius. For those switching from ADSL, you’ll need to remove the line filter before you plug the Genius in using the supplied phone cable. Plug the Genius in using its AC adapter, and wait.
Within a couple of minutes – give it up to five, though mine took just over three – lights will indicate that ADSL sync is achieved, and that internet connection is enabled. You don’t need to enter your username and password or fiddle with any settings, unless you want to.
To use your Genius, you can now plug in devices, such as a desktop computer, via the supplied Ethernet cable for wired internet. To connect any wireless gadgets you have, use the obvious sounding SSID – the password to connect to this network is the serial number on the back of the Genius.
It really is that simple.
Beyond the basics
More advanced configuration is available by logging into the Genius as you would any other modem/router. Launch a browser and access the user interface by opening the address 10.1.1.1. You can then log in and locate the settings you want to adjust. We’d recommend, at minimum, changing the wireless SSID. If you want to alter the password, it’s very simple to do at the same time. Altering the admin login and password is also useful.
You can adjust a wide range of options, such as VPN passthrough, port forwarding, DMZ, NAT addressing and MAC address filtering.
Speeds from the Genius were excellent. The upstream and downstream rates as reported by the modem were faster than those from our previous modem on the same ADSL connection, and we gained some 200Kbyte/sec download speed after switching to Genius (from 1.3Mbyte/sec maximum, to 1.5Mbyte/sec). That could make a difference for gamers looking to improve speeds.
Specifications and features
In terms of technology, the Genius is good, but it’s not the most outstanding modem/router when it comes to features. You get ADSL2+ compatibility, and for wireless connectivity you get 802.11b/g/n – Orcon says there are two antenna within the Genius unit. The Genius is IPv6 “capable”, but will require a firmware upgrade for compatibility, Orcon told PC World.
You can connect up to four gadgets using the 10/100 Ethernet ports – no gigabit Ethernet here, sorry – and the USB port is suitable for storage, such as an external hard drive that can be shared between computers on your network. You could also use this slot to attach a USB mobile broadband dongle to add 3G capability to the Genius.
Not surprisingly, given that the Genius is designed to use VoIP and replace your standard phone line, there’s quality of Service (QoS) enabled, which helps ensure that call quality is high. The handset is a fairly standard cordless design, with colour screen, and you can connect an additional handset to the base unit. Any voice mail is delivered to your Orcon email inbox for playback. You get caller ID and call waiting included as part of the Genius plan.
Get your own Genius
You can rent the Genius as part of an Orcon contract, or on a month-to-month plan, from $70 per month. Plans of 24 months or longer get the Genius free. The Genius plan includes either 30GB data or free national calls and 5GB of data. You can get calls to landlines in other countries from $13 a month. Costs to mobile phones are listed on the Orcon site. Orcon doesn’t recommend the Genius if you run a fax machine, or if you have monitored alarms or medical devices.
Will it save you money on calls? As a value proposition, it competes well against a phone line costing $40 a month with phone bills on top when for $70 a month you can get 5GB broadband with free national calls.
Additional data costs $2 per gigabyte.
Overall, the Genius is a finely-tuned modem/router that will deliver great internet speeds and good call quality VoIP calls. If you’re the type who uses your phone line mainly for broadband, rather than phone, or you think you would save money by switching your calls to VoIP, then it should be on your shortlist.
Posted by someone at 23:26:05 on September 21, 2011
Posted by Scootachan at 23:32:47 on September 17, 2011
I have been sitting on the fence for the past month or so about changing to this new VoIP plan.
I have been a customer with Orcon for many years and normally would jump at the change to try out a new plan. Unfortunately due to bad customer service I am now a bit reluctant to change. If I have a problem trying out a new plan I want to speak to someone straight away not a few hours later and I want the issues or problems to be resolved when I call.
Overall I want an update to see what the service quality is and if you suggest I should change or if I should stay on the plan I am on.
Posted by MajorBrainDamage at 21:59:37 on September 15, 2011
Not only have I increased my data cap by 5gb I am saving $40 a month compared to my old ISP.
Speed test 12.82 Mb/s download and 0.71 Mb/s upload speeds.
Can notice no difference in phone call quality and impact on download speed while on the phone are hardly noticeable.
Posted by Jono at 11:18:04 on September 1, 2011
Posted by Glen Towler at 14:12:50 on August 19, 2011
Started badly, with internet (not correct static ip) and no phone, tried ringing Orcon via cellphone, after 36 minutes on hold, I was told that I had rung after hours (approx 9pm on Wednesday) and the tech couldn't help me.
Rang again during the following morning and left my number for a call back.
Got called back in the afternoon and was advised to do a factory restore. Did that when I got home, no internet or phone now. Rang again, after 72 minutes on hold, the tech advised that there were issues at Orcons end and I should wait until Friday.
Rang Orcon on Friday and left my number for callback. Got called back in the afternoon and the tech was able to access the router and force update the settings.
Got home to internet (old static IP) and phone.
Experience to date:
Slightly faster download speeds, Good wireless range, Phone works great.
Monitored home alarm system (Concept 4000 using IR Fast) still works.
Saving $40 a month and double the data cap, pretty happy.
Posted by Anonymous at 15:46:41 on August 14, 2011
Posted by Frase at 9:16:30 on August 11, 2011
Posted by Anonymous at 12:29:56 on August 11, 2011
I'm currently doing that with my old Telecom 56k wireless router/modem. I bought a top of the line netgear router and for some crazy reason it doesn't have a native modem so I turned off the wireless on the old Telecom device and now use it as the modem for the new router.
So the question is, given the genius has low end networking capability, can I plug my existing and much higher spec router in to it and use the genius as a modem (and telephone) only.
Posted by Frase at 15:07:12 on August 12, 2011
Posted by Anonymous at 15:57:53 on August 14, 2011
I am a very angry Orcon customer!!! 0.5 Stars
As Orcon provided a very SHITTY services, we decided to change home phone and broadband provider to Vodafone in December last year.
However, we still keep receiving two bills from Orcorn afterward. I was STUPID enough that I thought the first bill was just the over lapping time between the two providers so we paid for it!!
Until today, I received another bill of $80. So called them and after listened to a message #thank you for calling, you now can manage your account from...... # about million times. I finally got through a real human voice!! They claimed that we didn#t notified them for stop using their services within 30 days, as we agreed when we first signed up with them (I guess it would be written in a very very fine prints somewhere!!).
Finally, they will not billing us anymore, and I have to pay for my stupidity of $90 on the 1st bill. What I learnt from this experience were;
#*Every time that I change anything makes sure all parties know the changes.
#*For every services and products that I am interested to buy or use, I should go for a big company (i.e. telecom or vodafone)
Finally, SHAME ON YOU ORCON!! I will never use your services again and will do everything that I can to stop those ones I love to use you services!!
Posted by Anonymous at 12:59:26 on January 25, 2013
Cons: not what it's described as being
I lost track of the number of calls we had to make to get Orcon's so-called Genius system up and running, although from the sound of it we were lucky it only took three phoneless, computerless days. 55 minutes to answer a call is utterly unacceptable.My husband I took turns; taking 15 minute shifts. The average was about 30 minutes. 2.5 Stars
The loss of phones that cannot now be used is a nuisance; don't believe any Orcon rep who says that you can buy a dect phone; well, you can, but you can't use it. You will be stuck with only having two phones, both of which need to be plugged into the modem !!! This is a major design issue.
Posted by Anonymous at 15:26:34 on November 17, 2012
Pros: Nice modem, looks good, easy to see lights
Cons: only one phone
I didn't realise that one cannot now have anyone pick up the other phone-which has to be plugged into the same place as the Orcon phone handset-and speak as one normally does on an extension; they have to come through to where the handset with which the call was answered is. Of course, one only discovers this when it happens. 2.5 Stars
I don't like it that my new netbook doesn't perform well unless it's connected to the modem with an adsl (?) yellow cable, which negates the idea of having a netbook.
The nuisance of only being able to have two phones, both of which have to be in the same room (one can, of course, move the handset, but it runs out of charge annoyingly fast) is greater than I expected. Why on earth can I not use a dect phone, as someone at Orcon said I would be able to do ?
Posted by Anna at 15:19:43 on November 17, 2012
My advice as a pc Tech - the Orcon Genius is actually a really good setup considering it's free with setup. For a modem that most of these reviewers with no actual expertise in the matter its better than the modems provided by 90% of other isp's (without paying for the modem). 4 Stars
If you want a modem that has GB ethernet and Dual Band 2.4/5Ghz then your looking at $200+ to buy one (and half of them don't support VOIP or IVP6), an internet company isnt going to spend that much money on modems when there rented out and ones that do you have to pay for the modem and it's still a rental.
These modems are also Fibre ready and as stated on Orcons site when Fibre is available in your area you can upgrade to it at no extra costs.
Also on a extremely important note as of not long ago it looks as though Orcon is going to be the sole provider of Fibre to residents as Telecom and Vodafone are saying it's too expensive and time consuming to even connect a residental home to it (8 hours to connect 1 house to Fibre Optic).
Posted by Richard at 14:46:01 on September 26, 2012
Genius is anything but! The box is so restricted you cannot turn off DHCP or change internal IP's. 0.5 Stars
28 days without a phone while transferring to it.
Wireless is USELESS - Worst range and speed I have ever had
Orcon support take 3 days on average to respond via e-mail, 30min+ to answer phone and do not close jobs or do anything you'd expect.
Phone is clear but drops out and I have had a heap of people just get voicemail
Only positive thing about my Genius experience - Getting out of it without paying the exit fees after threatening deputes tribunal!
Posted by Anonymous at 15:34:15 on May 3, 2012
Posted by Richard at 14:49:11 on September 26, 2012
I am so disappointed with the Orcon Genius. My experience to date has been... 0.5 Stars
1. Ordered Orcon genius online and it showed up on schedule - great!
2. Plugged in and setup - not working - rung Orcon - waited on hold for 45mins to talk to customer service - they said they send someone out to fix it. Finally fixed and up and running with the basic connection.
3. Turn my laptop on down the hall in my office (5m away) and takes 10 mins to load a basic page
4. Ring help desk at Orcon (wait another 41 mins), speak to a very rude customer service person who says that if there is a wall there it may not work. So what...you have to sit next to the modem to get the wireless signal I ask...his response - yes it should be in the line of sight???? WTF??? Where does it say this in all there advertising? No troubleshooting advice, no it could be a dodgey modem....unbelievable!
5. Ring help desk again (wait 30 mins again) and explain my problem from the previous day - get put through to the cancellations team - at least this guy offered to send me a replacement modem in case the current one is damaged. I ask if I want to cancel then what? He explains I have to pay $200. I explain I engaged you for wireless and i have wireless in only one room...he said he would send a replacement modem so we will see but this just seems like unbelievably terrible service to me. I asked if I could take to their Customer Service Manager or similar and I was quite entertained when he said they didnt have one....go figure!
Posted by terribleorconexperience at 15:12:25 on March 20, 2012
I have Orcon Genius. At least 50% of my calls are dropped, either when I answer the phone or part way through the call. Also, there are regular outages when I have neither phone or internet. (though internet speed is v good). Orcon are aware of the problem but have made no attempt to communicate with me and I don't have any confidence that they're even attempting to sort it out. They're also messing up the billing. The intial delays and dramas getting them to set up an account for me should have been warning enough. Maybe they're OK if you're in a main centre (maybe!?) but I would warn anybody thinking of it to be aware of the risk and the potential hassle. 0.5 Stars
Posted by Lee at 15:46:01 on March 12, 2012
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