One of the first things my wife and I agreed on when deciding to buy a new house was that it must eventually have “kick ass WiFi.” I have been using a new eero Pro 2nd Generation system for the last two weeks and can finally say, after nearly three years in our new home, that we have kick ass WiFi!
The road to finally solving the WiFi problem in our brick, lathe, and plaster-filled home was a long one – and ultimately wound up being fairly expensive.
We started initially with the Quantum Gateway that came with our Verizon FiOS service. While this wireless access point was surprisingly powerful, we found it just could not penetrate all of our walls and blanket the main floor, basement, and second floor in the fast WiFi we wanted. Next!
Apple’s AirPort Extreme access points were an obvious second choice. We’re an all Apple household and, while the pricing was quite high, we figured integrating three of these would ensure each floor was properly covered. This wound up being our solution for about two years. Everything worked wonderfully well and could easily max out our 150/150 Mbps connection (at the time) anywhere inside our house. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Gigabit internet came knocking and we upgraded immediately. Our 3x AirPort Extreme setup just couldn’t handle it. While maximum download speeds clocked in around 400 Mbps (about the best real-world speeds WiFi is currently capable of), the average speeds were much slower at 100-200 Mbps. Ouch. I knew there were better options, and decided to explore them.
Enter: mesh networking. I was woo’d by the promise a new type of networking they would ensure that I always had the fastest WiFi speeds no matter where I was in my home. Orbi’s “dedicated backhaul” was there to keep communications between units fast, meaning the satellite unit should be nearly as fast as the main unit.
This worked in practice. Orbi was, by far, the fastest WiFi system that I tested. Speeds hovered very near 500 Mbps download consistently – except when it didn’t.
Netgear’s Orbi has connectivity issues with iPhones, likely caused by some weirdness of how it interacts with iOS. My iPhones and iPads would frequently lose connectivity to Orbi entirely, or even sometimes display full WiFi connection bars but be unable to load anything online at all. Previous experiences with Netgear have shown that their wireless teams infrequently issue updates and their support teams leave much to be desired. Amazon has a great return policy, so I sent them right back.
Finally, I decided to bite the bullet. I cashed out a recently discovered cache of $700 in Bitcoin and bough a 2nd Generation eero Pro WiFi System on Amazon for $470 and had it delivered the next day.
Setup was insanely quick and simple. Plug-and-play after connecting my gateway eero (the first one plugged in – it doesn’t matter which), guided by an awesome app that helped me find proper positions for my other eero units throughout the house. No configuration necessary. Eero handles all of the hard stuff, so I literally just had to plug the first unit into power and Ethernet, then get power to the two extra units and I was done. WiFi everywhere.
Eero does not win the award of fastest WiFi overall, clocking in at an average of 300 Mbps down and up on my gigabit line, but it does come out on top in speed and connection reliability. My speeds never waver. They are always fast, and I never lose my WiFi connection unless I’m outside and across the street. Every corner of my (sometimes) annoyingly sturdy 1920s row house is blanketed in super fast WiFi.
Network management through the eero app is incredible, letting me see what is connected and how much bandwidth each device is currently using. I can set up custom profiles that restrict access from certain devices and pause internet access as desired. With the optional (and $99 a year) eero Plus addon, I can even stop malicious connections both coming into and attempting to leave my network, reducing the spread and impact of viruses, spyware, malware, and adware. I even get a weekly report of what eero Plus detected and blocked, as well as a quick overview of what kinds of connections are most common.
The security information that eero Plus provides is interesting, but could be more helpful. I wish that the weekly report included more details, like what the two Malware blocks were, specifically, that it detected and blocked last week. What device did it originate from? What application triggered it? What domain was it trying to connect to, and when? Answering these questions would make the service much more valuable.
In addition to network security, eero Plus also offers the ability to block ads at the network level. This means that many common ad networks are blocked, preventing ads on nearly every website I visit from being displayed. It also seems to block certain types of ads in certain apps from the App Store, but this is usually not the case.
Overall I am incredibly happy with my new eero Pro WiFi System. At a nearly $600 buy-in for the system and $99 of that recurring every year (for as long as I keep eero Plus), eero is hardly a bargain. What it lacks in affordability, however, it makes up in ease of use and time savings by absolutely nailing the “set it and forget it” ideal of worry-free WiFi. Eero promises and it delivers. If you are looking for a new WiFi system that requires little to no maintenance and delivers fast speeds throughout your home, eero is where it’s at.
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