Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Advertisement

It wasn’t that long ago when a home Wi-Fi system was only necessary to connect a few computers and maybe a smartphone. Today, it seems that everything that’s electronic in a home requires an internet connection, from tablets to televisions to smart appliances. Traditional routers Everything You Need to Know About Home Networking Everything You Need to Know About Home Networking Setting up a home network is not as hard as you think it is. Read More can’t always handle the load required to connect to all of those devices. It’s here where mesh Wi-Fi systems come into play.

In this article, you’ll learn more about this new type of Wi-Fi system for the home and hear more about three of the most talked about Wi-Fi mesh products on the market, Eero, Google Wifi, and Orbi.

What Is Mesh Wi-Fi?

In a home environment, most people have a modem from a service provider connected to a traditional Wi-Fi router, which allows users to connect to the network wirelessly 5 Things That Make Smart Wi-Fi Routers Worth Buying 5 Things That Make Smart Wi-Fi Routers Worth Buying Today, you can buy a new class of "smart routers", specifically designed to cope with the demands of running a smart home. Here are five things that make smart Wi-Fi routers worth buying. Read More . Depending on the size of your home, a Wi-Fi extender might be necessary to eliminate Wi-Fi dead spots. As its name implies, Wi-Fi extenders take your existing Wi-Fi signal and repeats it to extend the range.

Wi-Fi extenders require that you use a new network name, called an SSID. Depending on the number of extenders you use, this can be a major hassle, especially when using mobile devices since you need to manually change the network to use, depending on where you are in the home. Extenders also tend to weaken Wi-Fi speeds, depending on how far they are from the router.

With a mesh network, a network connection is spread out among various nodes that “talk” to one another. In doing so, they share the network connection across a larger area, thereby saving you time. Additional advantages of using a mesh network include easier setup and control over traditional systems, automatic system updates through the use of mobile apps, and more.

Eero

First introduced in 2015, the first Eero mesh Wi-Fi system launched in February 2016. Each Eero unit measures 1.3 inches tall and 4.75 inches wide. You connect one unit to your modem, with additional units recommended for every 1,000 square feet of living space.

Advertisement

Like other mesh products in this article, you perform most of the setup work for Eero using an app for either iOS or Android. The first unit pairs with the mobile app via Bluetooth; additional units are installed to the network automatically.

Eero mesh Wi-Fi

Setup includes the ability to name your network, set passwords How Password Managers Keep Your Passwords Safe How Password Managers Keep Your Passwords Safe Passwords that are hard to crack are also hard to remember. Want to be safe? You need a password manager. Here's how they work and how they keep you safe. Read More , setup a guest network, name individual units, test internet connection speeds, and more. You can also use the app to schedule downtime, which is ideal for homes with kids. Eero connects to a cloud, which issues updates, diagnostics, and fixes to the system.

Eero uses TrueMesh, which the company claims “means that your Wi-Fi is not only fast and resilient, but also intelligently adapts to your home.” It does so by looking for the best route for data to take in the home to avoid interference. It works with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

Since first launching, Eero has added support for Amazon Alexa 7 Creative Uses for Amazon Echo and Alexa 7 Creative Uses for Amazon Echo and Alexa You’ve seen the ads starring Alec Baldwin, but you're still not sure what Amazon Echo does or whether you need one in your home. We’re about to find out. Read More . The integration allows you to communicate with Eero using your voice. For example, you can ask Alexa which Eero unit controls your laptop, or ask it to pause the internet.

Reviews

Most of the reviews floating around the web note that Eero is among the easiest mesh networks to setup. It’s also received criticism for being one of the most expensive.

CNET notes that “the hardware is well designed, easy to use and you can quickly scale up your home network by adding more units.” However, “the system is expensive, not fast enough for bandwidth-heavy local tasks and requires you to connect to Eero’s servers to manage it.”

Business Insider justifies the higher price, explaining that with Eero, “you truly get what you pay for, which is strong, fast WiFi wherever you go in your home.”

eero Home WiFi System (Pack of 3) - 1st generation, 2016 eero Home WiFi System (Pack of 3) - 1st generation, 2016 Eero 世界的 best-reviewed 整个家庭 WIFI 系统,可代替您的无线路由器和范围扩展器。 无需再盲区。 现在,有了 Alexa 技能。 Buy Now At Amazon $319.00

An Eero three-pack is priced at $499, while a two-pack is available for $349. Single units are $199 each.

Google Wifi

The newest mesh solution on this list, Google Wifi, launched towards the end of 2016. It’s noted for being one of the least expensive mesh products on the market, and also the tiniest. Each unit measures just 4.17 by 4.17 by 2.7 inches. Google says that a single unit can cover a 1,500 square-foot home.

Google Wifi product promo

Like Eero, Google Wifi includes both a 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band, with setup and maintenance performed on a mobile app. You can also use this app to share your Wi-Fi password, see the devices online and prioritize them for better performance. The Google Wifi app also offers family controls, allowing you to pause the signal to individual devices at certain times.

With Google Wifi, you connect to Google’s servers A Cautionary Tale: When Google Decides To Hold On To Your Personal Data And Won't Let Go A Cautionary Tale: When Google Decides To Hold On To Your Personal Data And Won't Let Go We trust Google with our personal data every day: What happens when they won't let us take it when we need it? Here's a cautionary story of a Google Takeout experience. Read More 24/7, for better or worse.

Reviews

Early reviews suggest Google Wifi is just as good as Eero, yet at a lower price.

The Verge, for example, says “Google Wifi strikes a nice balance between price, performance, and ease of use.” It concludes that “if all you care about is raw performance, Orbi is a better router, but for overall experience, including cost and maintenance, Google Wifi is an easier system to use.”

Meanwhile, CNET says “Google Wifi is the best Wi-Fi system on the market.” Nonetheless, they admit that some might not want their home network connected to Google at all times.

Google Wifi system (set of 3) - Router replacement for whole home coverage Google Wifi system (set of 3) - Router replacement for whole home coverage A new type of connected system for seamless Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home, helping eliminate dead zones and buffering Buy Now At Amazon $259.00

One Google Wifi unit is priced at $129, while a three-pack is $299.

Orbi

Netgear’s Orbi first arrived on the scene in late 2016. One Orbi unit connects to your modem, with satellite units placed in key spots. Each unit measures 6.67 by 2.36 by 8.89 inches. An Orbi system (one router, one satellite) provides Wi-Fi coverage of up to 4,000 square feet.

Like other Netgear products Which Brands Are Best When Buying a Wireless Router? Which Brands Are Best When Buying a Wireless Router? Not all wireless routers are made equal -- and the same is true for router brands. Here are some of the more reliable brands along with a few that aren't so much. Read More , Orbi setup is primarily performed on a web page, accessible through your home computer or mobile device. You can also use the Orbi app, which provides step-by-step directions. At launch, this app isn’t nearly as robust as the ones offered by Eero and Google Wifi.

Unlike the other two solutions on this list, Orbi creates a dedicated connection that functions between each Orbi unit to transmit internet data. Netgear says this dedicated connection leads to faster connection speeds on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

Netgear Orbi product promo

They note that “Orbi’s Tri-Band system creates a high capacity superhighway, while other systems experience slow speeds, as you add units.”

Reviews

Business Insider found that Orbi performs slightly better than Eero regarding recorded download speeds. However, in “real life,” they didn’t see much of a difference.

The reviewer noted, “There was no perceivable difference between the two systems. I could browse the web and stream YouTube and Netflix videos just as well with the Eero as I could with the Orbi.”

In a separate post, Business Insider praised Orbi for its “great performance” and “sleek design.” Still, it thought that each unit was “large” and setup not “as easy as Eero or Google Wifi.”

The Wirecutter didn’t agree, claiming the “two-unit Orbi kit is faster and easier to set up than every three-unit kit we tested.”

NETGEAR Orbi Home WiFi System: AC3000 Tri Band Home Network with Router & Satellite Extender for up to 5,000sqft of WiFi coverage (RBK50) Works with Amazon Alexa NETGEAR Orbi Home WiFi System: AC3000 Tri Band Home Network with Router & Satellite Extender for up to 5,000sqft of WiFi coverage (RBK50) Works with Amazon Alexa FAST WHOLE HOME WIFI SYSTEM - Covers up to 5000 square feet with high performance WiFi; kit includes WiFi router and Satellites Buy Now At Amazon Too low to display

An Orbi system is $399, while an add-on satellite is $250 each.

What’s Best for You?

My research failed to find an overly negative review for any of these mesh Wi-Fi systems. Each received high marks for reliability and performance. Setup and price were two areas of concern, however.

Most celebrate the easy setup for both Eero and Google Wifi, while Orbi gets high marks for its wireless range. Eero, while receiving major kudos overall, has often been criticized for its premium price tag.

For most folks, Google Wifi is probably the way to go. For those in a larger home, Orbi’s probably the answer. Because it’s been around a little bit longer, you might want to choose Eero. Look for occasional discounts through Amazon.com or another retailer.

The bottom line: If you’re looking to eliminate a Wi-Fi dead spot in your home, you can’t go wrong with any of the solutions presented here.

Which mesh solution are you using in your home and why? Let us know using the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Steve Cabello
    March 5, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    I purchased eeros. They did not work properly. I would be in one room of the house and somehow the device would connect to the wrong eero. This was especially true if you roam around your home -- my device would latch onto the poor signal.

    I struggled and finally gave up.

    I went with Google WiFi which has some limitations (you are forced to use their LAN subnet, for example) but I was able to work around it with a layer 3 router so my home now has multiple subnets and VLANs to separate google WiFi from the rest of the network. It actually forces me to build a better network (so my wifi traffic I purposefully segregate and have policy to allow traffic into my LAN and traffic to go through various VPNs)

    The google wifi works perfectly. I kind of expected it given the many years google has of experience in this field... eero is a new player and their product does not mesh or work properly. It probably is not a big deal for most users (they might get a weak signal but it still it is sufficient to browse) but for people that truly need a working mesh, pass on eero. It was a waste of a week of my time. Google WiFi is vastly superior too.. more features and surprising less expensive

  2. michael backes
    January 28, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Seems that this article failed to bring one strong competitor into the mix and that is the Linksys Velop. The Orbi is the only mesh unit that has a backhaul on a tri band leaving the other 2 bands free. That is until the Velop was brought into the mix on Jan 15th. Seems to be a show down between the tri band mesh units which are Orbi, Velop, and the next to come in 2nd Qtr of the this year the Asus hivespot.

  3. Dave Sparks
    January 25, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    Eero doesn't really support 2.4 GHz. Try connecting an Xbox 360 to it and then stream a movie, the signal is/was awful. Not to say there wasn't a strong Eero signal in the room (100 Mpbs+) but again with respect to an older device with an older adapter only capable of operating with 2.4 GHz, it couldn't do what a standard router could. Also, the Eero doesn't switch nodes easily or quickly. Meaning the signal stays strong for stationary devices, but try going from the top floor of your home down to the basement. Your iPhone stays connected to the top floor node, doesn't switch to the closest node on the main or lower level. Meaning now it's try to connect to something two floors up and of course the signal degrades. Yes, if you turn off WiFi and turn it back on it corrects the issue, but that gets to be annoying for such a sophisticated set up.

  4. Marcus
    January 24, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    For me the best Whole-Home-WiFi solution is the devolo 1200+ WiFi ac Starter Kit. Easy to set up. Latest WiFi ac Technology - super fast. And for half of the price! Beside this: Powerline is the better option, because reinforced concrete ceilings do not matter. But this matters to all the WiFi products mentioned in the article.

  5. likefunbutnot
    January 19, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    The correct answer is Ubiquiti, which lets me mix and match products for indoor and outdoor use and mix in lower-frequency gear for long-haul applications, has a central management system so I can control multiple sites and from one interface, yet still manages to cost less than any of this crap.

    • +1forUniFi
      January 24, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      I would also agree that Ubiquiti is the way to go. Use it at work for our 15 acre campus as well at home. Can't go wrong with Ubiquiti products.

    • Graham Gibby
      May 19, 2017 at 7:07 pm

      The first step for anyone with home WiFi problems is to survey the signal landscape. There are several goo smartphone WiFi scanning apps, and Fing is fantastic for inventory of exactly what's on your network (you might be surprised).

      Understanding just how many WiFi sources surround you and adjusting placement and channels on your existing equipment is pretty easy and FREE.

      Another UniFi acolyte here - local ownership and control (no cloud required), Power over Ethernet option, cleanest device aesthetic (IMO).
      It's not a plug & rock appliance, which Apple has trained everyone to expect, but with some time and attention, it's close to flawless.