- I tried the second-generation mesh WiFi system from Eero, a startup that Amazon recently bought.
- The system I tried included a primary Eero router and two smaller routers called “Beacons.”
- Eero’s second-generation mesh WiFi system delivered stronger WiFi signals and speed than a traditional WiFi router and extender setup usually does.
- At the same time, major networking companies had also released their own mesh systems when Eero released its second generation of mesh routers that compare with Eero’s performance, and they make Eero’s prices seem high.
Back in 2016, I tried the original Eero mesh WiFi system. It delivered fast and strong WiFi throughout my home, even in places that were considered WiFi dead zones. The Eero devices also proved to be much easier to set up than the traditional WiFi extenders, and they delivered much faster speeds, too.
Then, in 2017, Eero came out with new devices that do everything the original models did, but better. The company says the second generation of routers have twice the power and range as the original systems, and there are new satellite devices, called Beacons, that are easier to install around your home.
I tested the second-generation Eero and Beacon shortly after they were released, here’s how well they worked:
Eero’s latest second-generation mesh routers look better than most standard WiFi routers, which have less-inspired designs and antennas sticking out.
Eero also says the new routers have twice the power and range as the first-generation Eeros.
I tried the option for “most homes,” as described by Eero itself, which includes a primary Eero router and two new, smaller Eero Beacons that plug directly into your power outlets without a cord.
Eero says the “most homes” option should cover homes with two to four bedrooms, which is a little vague, as it doesn’t tell you the square footage of its range. But it’s still a decent indicator for which option is best for you.
The new Beacon satellite units are half the size of the regular Eero router, and they’re 20% to 30% more powerful than the original Eero routers. Their direct plug-in design is great for places where you may not want a power cord, like a hallway, a stairwell, or power outlets above a kitchen counter. That’s a thoughtful design choice, as it gives you more options to place an Eero satellite unit.
I placed the main Eero router in the living room in the middle of my house, a Beacon around the laundry room where a guest is staying in the guest room, and another Beacon upstairs in the master bedroom.
You set up the Eero using its app on your mobile device. The Eero units and your smartphone communicate with one another via Bluetooth.
Before doing anything, use your old WiFi connection to download the app. Then, follow the steps in the app to set up a new Eero WiFi network.
It takes a few taps through the app, but it’s incredibly easy to set up. Here’s a condensed version of what I went through using the Eero app to set up the primary router.
You can set up the Beacon satellite units from the app right after setting up the primary unit, and it’s just as easy.
The app also tells you the best place to put your Eero units is toward the center of your home, out in the open and away from obstructions – also to avoid placing them near large electronics.
Now to the speed tests: I set a baseline of the WiFi speeds from the primary Eero router in my living room that’s connected to my internet modem.
The speeds I got from the primary Eero router average out to 194 Mbps for downloads, and 36 Mbps upload speeds.
Those are the speeds I’d expect from the primary Eero router in the living room that’s directly connected to my internet modem, and they’re very consistent with each other. The Eero router does a good job of delivering fast, consistent WiFi speeds.
How about upstairs in the bedroom, where I installed a smaller Eero Beacon?
Upstairs, the average download speed during my tests was 137 Mbps, and the average upload speed was 36.
The 57 Mbps slower download speeds show there’s some sort of bottlenecking between the primary router in the living room and the Beacon satellite unit upstairs in the bedroom. That’s despite the strong connection between the router and the Beacon satellite, according to the Eero app.
Still, 137 Mbps download speeds are pretty great. That will easily handle pretty much any streaming or internet activity you throw at it, including 4K streaming. In fact, 137 Mbps is enough for five people to stream 4K videos from Netflix at the same time, all from the single Beacon satellite unit upstairs. For reference, Netflix recommends at last 25 Mbps for 4K streaming.
Also, you should consider that my internet speeds are way above average, as I’ve signed up for a speedy internet service from my internet service provider. If you have a more modest 50 Mbps internet plan from your ISP, you would most likely get full speeds from the Beacon satellite. That’s because the Beacon satellite units appear to reach a limit of around 140 Mbps, and it could easily handle a 50 Mbps connection.
The MacBook Pro I’m using for testing also switched over from the router downstairs to the Beacon satellite upstairs fairly quickly, too. No manual switching here.
Then, I tested the same Eero Beacon in a notorious WiFi dead zone upstairs in the house.
The spare bedroom’s bathroom upstairs apparently hates WiFi, and it’s earned the name “No WAN’s Land” (super-nerdy internet joke). I wouldn’t say the spare bathroom is a high WiFi traffic area, but it’s a good test to see how well Eero’s mesh system work in a WiFi dead zone.
There are several walls between the spare bathroom and the Beacon satellite upstairs, but the Beacon did a pretty great job at getting fast WiFi to “No WAN’s Land.”
I noticed that my MacBook Pro had switched over from the 5GHz WiFi band to the 2.4GHz band, which has a longer range than the 5Ghz band, but isn’t as fast. 5GHz band probably couldn’t pass through the multitude of walls between the Beacon satellite unit and the spare room bathroom.
The average download speed was 86 Mbps, and was mostly consistent. Average upload speeds clocked in at 35 Mbps. You could easily stream 4K videos with those speeds.
And again, if you had a more common 50 Mbps internet plan from your ISP, the Beacon satellite unit would most likely deliver the full 50 Mbps to that WiFi dead zone in your home.
One more test down in the laundry room next to the guest bedroom.
The guest bedroom downstairs is also a WiFi dead zone, according to a friend of mine who’s staying there for a while. After I plugged in the second Beacon satellite unit in the laundry room, next to the guest bedroom, my friend said he had no more problems streaming music, videos, making video calls, or generally using the internet.
The laundry room Beacon satellite unit got an average download speed of 132 Mbps, and an average upload speed of 36 Mbps. That’s nearly identical to the Beacon satellite upstairs.
I did find that devices took longer to transfer to the laundry room Beacon than with the Beacon upstairs or the primary router in the living room. At least, that’s what the Eero app was telling me. It would show my MacBook Pro as still connected to the Beacon upstairs, even though I was right next to the laundry room Beacon downstairs at the opposite end of the house. At any rate, I didn’t notice much of a performance difference while I was in the laundry room/guest room when my devices were still connected to the Beacon upstairs, so maybe it’s the app that’s a little laggy.
The Eero app is great for keeping tabs on your Eero devices and the overall status of your network.
From the app, you can check whether all your Eero units are working properly, what devices are connected to which Eero, add more Eeros, enable guess access, and add profiles to control WiFi access for kids.
For $US400, the “most homes” option is pretty expensive, and Eero isn’t the only player in the field anymore.
For my relatively large home, anything less than the “most homes” option wouldn’t quite suffice, which means I’d need to spend at least $US400 if I went with an Eero system. Otherwise, for smaller homes or mid-sized apartments, there’s the $US300 “small homes” option, which comes with an Eero router and single Beacon satellite unit. That’s still expensive, even if the Eero works well.
When the original Eero was released, it was an easy recommendation, as there weren’t other mesh WiFi systems available to compete with it. Since then, however, more mesh systems have cropped up, and instead of recommending the Eeros outright this time, I’d recommend that you consider the new Eeros among other less expensive mesh WiFi systems.
There’s Netgear’s $US270 Orbi systems, Amplifi’s $US130 HD MeshPoint that turns your old WiFi network into a modern mesh network, and the $US260 Google WiFi three-pack that all essentially work just as well as the Eeros.
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