A strong and reliable WiFi connection can tricky to achieve, particularly in large homes or those with thick concrete walls. WiFi extenders are essential for stretching a connection to every corner of a house, but for those not familiar with the technology, they can be difficult to setup. Hell, even as someone who’s quite comfortable with all kinds of tech, I still find extenders to be a pain in the ass to set up correctly.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been using Amazon’s eero mesh WiFi system (currently on sale for Amazon Prime Day 2021 for $233 — $156 of the RRP) in my apartment and found its setup process to be the fastest and easiest of all the systems I’ve used previously. It also gives me the ability to see who’s connected to the network and block suspicious activity, all from my smartphone.
I live in an apartment that can be separated into two main parts — the kitchen and living area at one end and two bedrooms at the other, both connected by a long hallway. With a basic WiFi router, we get great coverage in the kitchen and living area, but the thick concrete walls (along with the bathroom and laundry) between that space make the signal is fairly weak by the time it gets down to the bedroom end.
To boost the signal, I originally tried a cheap Kogan range extender but found that it wasn’t really suitable for the layout of my apartment simply because there isn’t really anywhere to put it between the living area and bedrooms. It was also prone to random disconnects which are infuriating when you’re halfway through a cracking movie or TV show.
So far, eero has not disconnected once and offers great coverage in pretty much every area of my home.
What you get in the eero box
The eero system I’m using consists of three separate WiFi routers — one that connects directly to the modem and two that can be placed around my home to boost the signal. Altogether, they provide coverage for up to 460 square metres.
The thing I love most about the system is its simplicity. There are no buttons on any of the units, just two ethernet ports and a power connection on each, leaving the setup and monitoring aspects of the network to the smartphone app.
How eero works
After downloading the app, it walks you through each aspect of the setup process without the jargon or assumed knowledge that would often trip up a networking novice. To begin, it asks you to plug the first unit into your modem — unplugging any existing WiFi routers beforehand — and connects to the internet, setting up your WiFi network in the process. Of course, you’ll get to name the network and set up a password of your choosing around this point. Each individual unit can also be labelled based on its location.
Next, it will walk you through connecting and positioning the other two devices, offering tips on how to get the best coverage throughout your space. It even tests each placement for ideal coverage and will prompt you if it could be better positioned somewhere else. Amazingly, this whole process took me less than ten minutes to complete.
Once it was set up, that was it. It just worked. The app now provides an overview of the network with each node’s signal strength, the devices connected to each one and more. I can kick off and block unauthorised devices with a simple tap and monitor which node a device is connected to at any one time, which is great for seeing how fast it switches from one to another. This is an important benchmark for me and the internet black hole at the bedroom-end of my apartment.
Testing eero‘s coverage
By tapping on my iPhone in the app, I can see in real-time which eero it’s connected to, which allows me to test the switch over time as I literally walk up and down my hallway like a goose. Counting as I reached each end, I found that the switch over averaged around four to seven seconds, which is pretty well seamless when it comes to most internet activities.
On my initial test with video calling, I did find that moving from one side of the apartment to the other while on a call did make the feed stutter, however, in more recent tests I’ve noticed minimal to zero stutters or cutouts, which I find impressive for such a connection-heavy task and something I wasn’t able to do with my old WiFi setup.
Eero also automatically downloads and installs security updates, which is just something that’s nice to know you don’t have to worry about.
The only catch is the price
Currently on sale for $233, the eero system isn’t exactly a cheap solution, but I’d say it’s worth the cost if you value convenience and easy control over your WiFi network. There’s also the option to purchase single eero devices (covering 140 square metres each) for A$89, down from $149.
If you’ve had trouble with stubborn internet black spots in your home, have already tried other solutions and aren’t afraid to throw a little more money at the problem, eero is definitely worth a shot.