Elegant Networking – An eero Home WiFi System Review

October 10, 2017 at 8:14 pm by

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I’ve been fortunate enough to have reviewed some of technology’s greatest inventions and some products that are perfect in every single way, though none of them have had a bigger impact on my reviewing process than the eero system.

Eero had just started its business in 2014 when I first caught wind of them. When I began to look into the company, everything they had listed on their website sounded right, looked right, and seemed promising.

In their story, they mention how “the foundation of home technology has been broken for far too long” and that instantly meant something to me.

Before eero, I had constant home networking problems. I had a Linksys router that needed a reboot from time to time, one wireless access point, and then another wireless booster. There were SSIDs for different parts of the house and it was a mess for roaming. So, for a company to say on their home page that “for the first time, WiFi is reliable enough to cover every room in the house”, really spoke volume.

So, in a long shot, I reached out to the brand to see if they would be looking for a review on the latest technology. The outcome we all know of with the first eero review being published on Tech Support Forum August 18, 2016.

There is so much to talk about with these little devices and so much to cover that it was such a pleasant unit to review. The title of the original review, Advanced Wireless Communications, may have been accurate, but eero takes all of the advanced work out of their systems for you. Because, why do you want to work on advanced systems? Shouldn’t everything just be a plug and play device?

Take a moment and think about Apple’s way of doing business. If you look at it from a technological standpoint, you may believe that Android phones are superior. They have better cameras, tools, hardware, bodies, and everything else going for them. Yet, people continue to purchase Apple products, because of one major reason: simplicity. It just works without any sort of frustration.

Apple makes phones that are for the consumer and a phone that meets the consumers’ needs. Could they pack in more features? Of course, but chances are 90% of the market doesn’t need it anyways.

That’s what eero does in the networking field. They noticed that while at work or school, the network connections just seem to work no matter which room you are standing in and even when you walk from room to room, you keep that strong connection strength.

At home, we just want things to work and to never think about WiFi again. So, think of eero as the Apple of networking.

My original eero review was stuffed with positives and a great success of a great first product. A year later, eero is back with a second-generation unit featuring more advanced networking that is simplified for the consumer.

Additionally, eero has shrunk their networking tools into smaller beacon devices that extend wireless coverage in the home.

With a perfect company launch, does the eero second-generation unit keep up with tradition in ease of networking? Let’s find out.

Welcome to my review on the eero Home WiFi System. This review is on the second generation eeros and is the 2 – 4-bedroom home kit.

Design

Okay, so Apple may have made a mistake by adding that top black chin bar on their new iPhone X, but eero played it safe with their second generation eeros by maintaining the glossy marble white finish that was portrayed on the original eeros.

Eero’s goal with their system is that you would put your networking equipment out in the open for people to see. Not hidden in a closet or a cubby so that visitors wouldn’t see the ugly vertical standing antennas on other home routers.

On the back of the box, eero shows places they want their units in your home. In the living room on a table top, or plugged into a kitchen outlet and they do this, because the product has such a classy and modern look.

My unit is the tri-device unit that is intended for homes with two to four bedrooms or about 2500 sq. ft. Unlike the first generation, the second generation now only comes with one hub unit (Excluding the Pro edition kit).

The hub unit, like the first generation, is your main starting eero. This eero has the brains and processing power to direct network traffic and is the unit that talks to your modem. Think of it as the backbone of your home network.

Glossy marble white all around and made from plastic, the hub unit is larger in size than the other two included eero Beacons. On the rear of the eero are two Ethernet jacks, a reset button, and, surprisingly, a USB Type C power connector.

It’s the little things like using a Type C USB connection that helps show how modern eero is trying to be.

The rest of the design on the hub is nearly identical to the first generation. There is a small silver eero label on the top face of the unit and the bottom is rubberized to prevent the unit from sliding about while on a table.

A new edition to the second generation eeros is the Beacons. These Beacons are small and compact eeros that plug directly into a wall socket.

They follow the same glossy marble white finish but lack any Ethernet ports. The only thing to do with it is to plug it directly into a wall outlet.

The Beacons are rectangular shaped and when plugged into a top wall outlet, they do not block the outlet below it. Clever and nice to see.

While the Beacons lack Ethernet ports, they do have little 10W nightlights. Each Beacon has a built-in light sensor that detects the amount of light in the room it’s placed in. When darkness begins to set in, the eero Beacon kicks on its beige-white colored nightlight and provides a subtle amount of light below it. This is quite ideal for hallways and kitchen counter tops where you may want some light at night without turning on the entire room’s light. Or even a child’s bedroom who wants it a little lighter at night.

While I will go more into the application later, the nightlight only has an on and off setting. You, unfortunately, cannot adjust the intensity of the light. Hopefully, we see this in the future.

Since the Beacons get power through their connected wall outlet, included in the box is just a single thick and white Ethernet cable for the hub to the modem. Additionally, eero includes a lengthy power cable for the hub.

I am impressed with the design of the second generation eero units. They stuck with the original design that worked well the first time around. Moreover, it’s a design that you shouldn’t hide or put behind a picture frame. With a product like this, you want others knowing you have it.

Setup

There is no limit to how many eeros you can have running in your eero network. So, since I had my original first generation eeros, I decided to include them in my newly created eero home network.

As mentioned earlier, there is a starting eero that is the powerhouse of your eero network. Well, since I had the first generation eero configured as my first network, eero doesn’t have a way to convert ‘start’ or ‘main’ hub units. So, step one for me was to delete my existing network.

Everything for your eero network is done using the free eero application. First time users will need to download the app from the iOS or Play store. Next, you’ll need to create an account with eero. This is how you log in and how eero knows who you are if you need support. What’s neat is the account doesn’t use passwords. Instead it just sends a PIN to the email that is used for setting up the network.

The application is incredibly easy and a user with little to no technical background could setup the eero network. In a total of 10 minutes, you choose a network name, a network password, and setup the eeros in their respected rooms. It couldn’t be easier.

After your network has been created, you walk around your home setting up each eero individually. When an eero is connected to the wall, it will glow Blue to indicate pairing mode.

Once your application finds the eero unit, it will run a spectrum analysis to see if the placement of the eero is in the best place it can be. If the newly added eero cannot maintain a strong signal, it will ask you to move it to a new location.

Eero works in a method known as mesh networking. One eero will talk to every other eero in the network. They bounce communications all around each other to maintain a stable network for you and your devices. Additionally, each eero is constantly broadcasting a 2.4GHz and 5GHz signal under the same SSID; meaning you don’t have separate networks for different frequencies.

Due to the one SSID and multiple access points, no matter where you walk around in your home, your wireless devices will automatically connect to the strongest eero unit to it. No more dead spots or slow zones. To you, the change between eeros is seamless and unnoticeable.

For those who have wired devices, like myself, you will need to use a network switch. I recommend getting a network switch that can handle at least eight connected devices and is a Gigabit switch. This switch should be plugged into the second Ethernet port on the hub eero.

After setup, managing the eero is all done through the application mentioned in the beginning. You can add eeros at any point in time, see download and upload speeds, manage connected devices, and much more. I will cover this later on.

One additional setup thing that you may need to do is a guest network. Everyone should know by now that you should never give out your main wireless network details and should be using a guest setup. Inside the application, a guest network can be created in literally seconds.

A guest network is neat because it will generate a new network with a new password for guest users. You can even share this network over NFC to your friends if you so desire.

Functionality

In my first eero review, I included the usage of eero in the setup portion. This time around, there are so many new and great features in eero 2.0 that it needs its own section.

I may sound like a broken record at this point, but within the application is how you actually use your network. Granted, you may never go in here after you originally setup your network, because you don’t need too.

After the network has been configured, don’t feel like you ever need to go in and manage the network. This is here for the advanced techies who like to poke around at things.

The application has received a refresh for eero 2.0. Things have been relocated and given a face lift for a more modern feel. Your home page shows the major details like a large status indicator of your network at the top. If you see “Everything looks good”, that’s good, but a large red banner may mean you are not connected to the internet.

One neat trick is that the application is cloud-based, meaning you can check in on your network status whether you are at home connected to it or half way around the world.

Eero now shows you the connected devices on the network and gives you the power to control them. At any given time, you can see currently and previously connected devices. Connected devices will indicate whether they are wired or wireless and if they are wireless, which eero they are connected too.

Additionally, the app will inform you of their wireless connection (2.4 or 5GHz) and some information about the networking specifications like IP, MAC, hostname, etc.

What I really like about device management is that eero allows you to add profiles to devices. Meaning if you have children, you can block their internet access for certain times of the day. Or if something were to connect to your network without access, you can block that MAC address entirely.

On the home screen, you can also see the status of each eero and your home internet speeds.

The hamburger menu houses the guest access, family profiles, network settings, adding eeros, help, account, and the ability to swap between different eero-based networks.

Each menu is self-explanatory, but in the network settings, you can control network name, password, IP address, DNS, NAT, port forwarding, and UPnP.

I would like to see eero add a logging feature for us techies. Something that explains why something happened or when a device is connected to the network. I’m sure eero logs, but its hidden to the user.

A new feature to eero is their new eero Plus monthly subscription. Back in June, I mentioned how eero was releasing eero Plus which was a network security tool that added anti-malware features to an eero network.

In short, the service is a $9.99 a month payment and boosts the eero network to stop malware, phishing, ransomware, viruses, DDoS, and botnets. What’s neat about the service is that you get live reports of what eero is blocking to see if the network is under siege or if everything is all well.

The monthly service also provides immediate customer support; meaning you skip all call queues. The customer support by eero is fantastic, quick, and knowledgeable.

Another protection feature of eero that is not a paid service is the automatic updates. Eero releases patches all the time and eero does the updating for you, which means you are always on the latest version and always up to date.

Ever since plugging in my eero network, it’s been another flawless operation. Everything works out of the box and it works really well without the need for reboots, repositioning, or messing with the eeros.

However, problems do happen and eero has a fantastic support team that works seven days a week and into the late hours. Voice or email, eero helps fix problems and its one of the better support teams I’ve used from any company.

Testing

My home network would be considered more advanced than your average home user’s. The total coverage covered by eero will need to cope with about 2700 sq. ft. which includes some outdoors.

That’s a two-story home with a basement and plenty of objects that get in the way of wireless reaching all four corners of the home. Regardless, I configured eero in a way that was considered acceptable by the eero support team.

Please remember that I am also running my home network with two different types of eeros. I have three hubs (1 second generation, 2 first generation units) and two eero Beacons in the home. Realizing that many aren’t going to go out and buy two different eero kits, the following testing is done using only the second generation eero system: one hub, two Beacons.

The hub unit was placed in the office with the modem and placed on a five-foot-high table. For the Beacons, one was placed in the upstairs master bedroom and the other downstairs closest to the garage. Since you have no understanding of my home layout, this configuration gives me the best surrounding coverage for both the main and second story.

Beginning with Ethernet speeds, they are truly fantastic. I have the Spectrum network in a neighborhood that uses little to no bandwidth and receive Ethernet download speeds at 115Mbps with upload at 15Mbps.

Eero isn’t providing me with these fantastic speeds, my Internet Service Provider is, but what this shows is that eero can handle these incredible speeds without fault. Many people’s internet plans don’t reach more than 20Mbps, but eero builds a system for all speeds.

Real testing of eero comes into play with the wireless network. I loaded a spectrum analysis tool on my Galaxy S8 Plus smartphone and began to walk around my home. Only in the farthest corner of the home did the internet connection drop down to one bar of speed, but internet connection remained.

Local area connections were also superb. File transfers to my Synology NAS systems were flawless and reached maximum uploads of 100MB/s. You will need the switch I mentioned earlier if you plan on doing a wired local area network. Communications for Bluetooth, NFC, and Apple’s AirDrop were not effected by the eero network.

All around the home there were zero dead spots, only slightly slower spots than others. When I travelled outside, the thick home walls that protect against the Wisconsin winters were a little tough for eero to penetrate. On walls that were closest to the eero Beacons, they could get through, but farther way the signal dropped rather quickly.

Laptops, smart watches, smartphones, tablets, Kindles, TV boxes, everything connected with ease and nothing ever drops. Ever. Only rarely do I get a loading bar on content such as Netflix, Amazon, or HBO.

At night, I may have three people playing a game, one surfing the internet, and another watching a Netflix show and nobody ever says something is wrong. It’s all smooth, no buffering, no loading bar wireless.


Taken on a Galaxy S8 without camera flash. Do note that the nightlight is brighter in the image than in real life. Additionally, the nightlight has a warmer color compared to the cooler white color shown here.

My Final Thoughts

Just like my first eero review, I am unable to find a fault in the eero system. This is networking as easy as it gets. It’s simple, elegant, and just works.

The eero brand has done it again with their systems being a ‘must have’ for those looking for a networking solution that will last them for years to come. The setup operation of eero is completed in ten minutes or less, you get incredible usability, a problem-free network, and speeds that are unbeatable.

My unit reviewed today is the 2 to 4-bedroom system, but eero has systems for all homes. Small homes and apartments may only need one hub and one Beacon, whereas large homes may opt for the pro system which comes with three hub units. Alternatively, you can buy them individually.

I find that this Home WiFi System with one hub and two Beacons is ideal for most people. Priced at $355 it is not an inexpensive purchase, but one that I cannot recommend enough times. It’s all because of eero’s claim of “Never think about WiFi again”.

Buy it now:

© 2017 Justin Vendette

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