Computer networking is one of the more challenging aspects of the informational technology world. Switches and routers, packets and frames, there is a lot of terms to understand and they need to be applied exactly to work. Although, when they do work people can be very appreciative.

Most people’s understanding of computer networking is simple. You either have a wired or wireless connection to the World Wide Web, but the details behind how you connect are very complex.

Have you ever noticed that when you are at work or at school that your wireless connection just always works? Your phone never drops, you seem to have wireless everywhere in the building, and you always have a strong signal even when walking around the building.

This is called a network mesh. By having multiple access points, or APs, around the building, your wireless device can jump from one AP to another. Think of the devices mounted on the ceiling handing off your network signal to the next closest unit.

So why can’t your home network work this flawlessly? Well, previously you would need a network administrator to configure this type of wireless setup at your home. The APs would need to be set to speak to one another, need a hard wired connection, and be fairly hard for the average home owner to work with.

Today if you were to purchase a home or apartment you would need two items to get started. A modem and a router with wireless capability. Your modem connects to your Internet Service Provider which then sends packets to the router and then to your device. Modems and routers are usually combined in one unit.

Here’s where the problems begin. You first need to work through the basic web user interface of the router to setup a wireless network and any additional needs necessary. This typically can’t be done over wireless, so you need a hard wired connection. Then when things are up and running, you may find that the wireless signal isn’t strong enough for your home or you need to constantly reboot the router.

When you finally get annoyed enough with the reboots each week, buffering logos, and hard to troubleshoot problems, you buy a new router, only for it too to disappoint you by starting you back at square one.

I’ve done all of that with my network setup. I’ve even tried purchasing some wireless range extenders, but this creates a new problem. Your wireless device isn’t smart enough to know to transfer itself to the next nearest signal, even if it knows the password! Wireless devices tend to hold onto their current signal before being dropped and then opening the opportunity to look for new Service Set Identifiers (SSIDs). If that wasn’t annoying enough, wireless extenders also cut your network signals in half.

I found myself, like others, asking myself what was next. Back in June I discovered this new company, eero. They had a simple, yet perfect solution for millions of people:
  • Simplify the network setup and configuration so anybody can create their own home network mesh.
  • Give people APs that can wirelessly work together and maintain themselves.

In addition, why not take that same perfect network found in work and schools and allow you to use it in your home?

So they did.

Welcome to my review of the eero Home WiFi System. Throughout this in-depth review, I will be discussing the following subjects: the design, setup, functionality, testing, and my final thoughts. A very special thank you to eero for providing me with this wireless system for this review.



Design

It wasn’t until recently that networking companies such as Linksys, Asus, and Belkin began adding some flare to their routers. Before, routers were these black or solid color boxes with some blinking lights on the back of them. They weren’t meant to be in the sight of others and therefore lacked creativity.

Now you are seeing some design being put into routers, but these designs are very aggressive. Asus for example, uses a design team that focuses their attention on PC gamers. Sharp lines, red colors, and high external antennas aren’t the prettiest looking things. Then you have Belkin with routers that remind me of a building design you’d see in Dubai.

The eero’s are different. They took what I call the Apple approach—simple, yet elegant. Inside the immaculate packaging box, the eero’s are a glossy white in color with a rounded cornered square shape.

With routers focused on wireless and Ethernet connections, the eero system is full blown wireless. On the rear of the eero are two Ethernet jacks, DC power input, and a (currently) non-functioning USB port.

You won’t find any blinking Ethernet lights, a power switch, or partially much of anything. On the front is a flush LED status bar that has a nice soft white for active, blue when pairing or in service, and red when reconnecting or a loss of connection.

Then, just like Apple, there is the subtle eero logo off centered on the top of the unit.

The eero system sent to me was the 3-pack unit. Inside the package, each eero comes with its own all white DC power jack. Your “starting” eero also comes with a white Ethernet cable that connects to your modem. Must I also include that the Ethernet cable provided is very well built.



Setup

If you were to configure a new router today, chances are high you would need a wired computer and would be pushed towards a web user interface to configure and setup your network. Companies like Belkin and Linksys have done a much better job at router setups with steps rather than giving you a basic interface, but this is only available on their smart routers.

For these eeros, I first had to download their iOS or Android application to my phone. Then I disconnected my phone from any active networks and connected the eero for power. Step-by-step the application walks you through the process.



You create an account with eero and then the application attempts to locate your starting eero. That’s it. After about ten seconds, the application found the eero and configured it. After setting up your starting eero, the application will ask you if you’d like to setup a wireless network. You then get to set the SSID and the password for your network. There aren’t any additional questions or complex settings needed; it’s all done for you.

The application will ask you if there are any other eeros available that you would like to add to your mesh. Clicking “Yes” will then wait for you to setup the next eero and then pair that one to your network. That continues until you are finished setting up the eeros.

You are now ready to go and setup after that. All you have to do is connect your devices to your new eero network.

I was blown away by how easy the application was to use. It took me longer to disassemble the old network than it took to configure the eeros. It took 15 minutes in total setup time (including placing the units in their desired location).

Eero's application is easy to read, easy to follow, and even well color coordinated with words in blue and the eeros glowing in green to show that they are active.

Next, the application now functions as your administrative panel. You do not need to ever use a web interface. In the application you get a daily speed test result, number of devices currently on the network, active status of the eeros, and additional settings that will be discussed below.

One thing to note about the setup is that after initial setup, you may find your network to be a bit slow or sluggish. The eero needs time to configure and test the network. After 24 hours any performance issues I saw were gone for good.



Functionality

Let me begin by apprising you of my old network configuration. I had a Linksys E8350 Dual-Band AC2400 Router that was stationed in my home office. This was filled with four Ethernet-connected lines. One of those Ethernet lines was run through the basement, up through the kitchen and connected to my XClaim Xi-3 access point. Then, in the living room, there was a Netgear RP3000 wireless range extender. There was nothing upstairs and anybody upstairs relied on the wireless broadcasting upwards.

Before the introduction of the XClaim unit, the wireless range of the router and Netgear unit was abysmal. The pool area was a dead zone and upstairs was a hit or miss whether or not it wanted to work that day. XClaim helped fix a lot of the range problems as the internal antennas were made for a business environment and it penetrated walls quite well.

Here’s the worst part about all of this though. I had a total of four different SSIDs roaming my home. Two came from the Linksys router for a 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band, one for the Netgear unit, and another for the XClaim.

So when out by the garage, you connected to XClaim, but when walking towards the office, instead of your device transitioning to Linksys, it suffered and remained on the 1 – 2 bar connection it had with XClaim. Plus, looking in your wireless settings was a mess, since I had so many SSIDs.

When it came to deciding where to place the eero system, two of their locations were a must. One in the office for the connection to the modem and the other in the Kitchen to power a PC and take advantage of that network cable I ran. The third eero was up for debate and found its home upstairs in a bedroom. This way those upstairs also got a solid connection.

Eero claims that their systems work best when other eeros can physically see one another. Unless you are in an apartment, I find that nearly impossible. They also say that they have a maximum of 40 feet away from each other. That was more doable and I kept it under the maximum limit. One thing to note is that when configuring an eero, the application will tell you if your location isn’t going to work.

In testing, the multiple walls between the eero’s didn’t seem to bother them much. Although don’t forget I do have two of them hard wired. Therefore, only one is truly wireless and it only needs to speak to one of the wired ones.

This is a meshed network. The eeros communicate to each other the most efficient way possible. One eero talks to another and another, until it finds its way to the main eero with the modem connection.

You have one SSID in your home, the one you configured when setting eero up. This SSID serves multiple uses. One is that your wireless device can easily transfer and handoff to the next AP; it’s unnoticeable to your usage, even when walking. The second is that you get a 2.4 and 5 GHz connection within one SSID. When possible, eero will use one of the four built-in antennas to either put you on a 2.4 or 5 GHz band whichever is stronger and more reliable.

As for those four Ethernet lines I used to have in my router, I had to pick up a networking switch for Ethernet connectivity as the eero only offers two Ethernet ports. My choice for a switch was the Linksys SE2800. Additionally, the T-Link TL-SG1008D is also a good choice. The switch worked flawlessly without problems in the eero network.

I never had to restart an eero in the multiple weeks they have been in place. I no longer have random drops, see buffering logos on my Fire TV Stick, or really have any frustration at all. I haven’t thought twice about them.

Finishing this section off, the application eero provides is very user friendly, but a little basic for those who want to dive deeper into networking. You can see currently connected products as well as past connections and you can give those nicknames so you know what device is what.

Speed tests and eero status is found on the home page, but within the menu is an option for guest access, family profiles, network settings, adding another eero, and help.

Guest setup is as easy as flying a kite in the wind. Everything is configured for you and you just hit Share guest network. Or, what I really like, you can share your main network, but with a different password. If you have somebody constantly coming over, but don’t want to give them your main password, you can give them a secondary one.

Family profiles are more like user control. You can limit times for devices and control children from accessing something they shouldn’t. There are time schedules for both active internet times or paused times.

Within network settings, you get the power to change the SSID and password, but you have to enter the advanced network for additional settings. In advanced, you can change DNS, internet connection, DHCP & NAT, Reservations & Port Forwarding, and UPnP. Eero also provides you with information like external and primary eero IPs.



Testing

On average there are 17 devices connected to the eero network. While some may be pulling minimal download needs, eero still needs to manage them.

During the busiest time of the day for my house, there are five primary devices running. Three of those devices are playing high frames per second games, while the other two are streaming Netflix. Not once did I notice a blip in speed when others where gaming or watching Netflix.

While I am on a wired connection while gaming and the switch does a good job at managing network, others didn’t have a problem either.

With a full walk around the property, I was able to walk a total distance of 20 – 30 feet away from the house in most directions and still have at least one bar of signal. The internal quad antennas do an excellent job at piercing through walls.

The cable company provided me with a 35 Mbps download speed with 5 Mbps upload. On the old system I would average about a 34 Mbps download and 6 Mbps upload. Now, I receive an outstanding 37 Mbps download and keep the 6 Mbps upload. Here is the proof with time stamp:



Something I was worried about was security and how eero works to protect my computers. Routers typically have firewalls, but they are only good for so long as they are not updated. Eeros are updated constantly and that includes updated firewalls. Plus you receive an email when eero is updated with a change log!

These updates are performed at night when nobody is using the network to minimize any down time. Security and usability at its finest.



My Final Thoughts

You may be asking, what about the bad? Where are the cons of the eero? I can easily respond to that to say there aren’t any. It’s simple, elegant, and just works.

This is by far one of my most favorite devices I have ever reviewed. It’s process, hardware, and simplicity is flawless in every way, although this comes at a cost. My three eero system costs $499. Personally I could have never seen myself purchasing a unit at that price, especially since routers are fairly cheap. However, this is worth every dime and I mean every word I said in this review. You won’t be disappointed with this purchase.

Eero makes a one, two, or three optioned eero system. With one eero system costing $199, it’s a hard recommendation unless you want the simplicity in an apartment too. I recommend picking up the two ($349) or three system model. It’s good value for what you get.

I have found myself to be extremely pleased with the eero system and no longer have the troublesome issues that come with networking. The best way to end this review is to say what eero told me: "Finally, WiFi that works."

Buy it Now:


© 2016 Justin Vendette