- Amazon announced its acquisition of a small company called Eero on Monday for an undisclosed amount.
- Eero makes mesh WiFi systems, which include devices that are designed to be placed throughout a user’s home to deliver fast and strong WiFi, even in areas that typically have weak WiFi strength.
- The company also rolled out a yearly subscription service that includes internet-based services, like threat protection, website content management, and ad blocking.
- Mesh WiFi systems have several other benefits over traditional WiFi routers and extenders.
Amazon announced its acquisition of the WiFi router startup Eero on Monday.
Eero was among the first companies to offer mesh WiFi “systems” to consumers, which were typically expensive and used by organisations in large spaces, like offices.
The aim of mesh WiFi systems like Eero is to deliver full – if not nearly full – WiFi speeds throughout the home, even in areas where a primary standard WiFi router might not reach. There are also several other key benefits to using a mesh WiFi system over a traditional router and extender setup.
Check out what Eero makes and how mesh systems work:
Eero was founded in 2014, and the startup released its first mesh system in 2016, before the major networking companies released their own mesh WiFi devices.
Eero was cofounded in 2014 by Nick Weaver (CEO), Nate Hardison (CTO), and Amos Schallich (VP of Engineering) to offer a better WiFi solution for consumers. Few – if any – of the bigger networking companies had released a mesh WiFi system for the consumer market at the time.
The first generation of Eero mesh systems was released in 2016. The second generation of Eero devices was released in 2017 with performance improvements and a new device called “Beacon” that plugged directly into power sockets. Along with the second generation of Eero devices, Eero introduced the Eero Plus subscription service that offered several internet-based features and services, like threat detection, a VPN, and a password manager.
The company started off with $US2 million in seed funding, and had raised $US148 million as of December 2017 before the Amazon purchase for an undisclosed amount, according to Pitchbook data. Eero currently has 130 employees.
What mesh routers do
Mesh systems have the same core idea as a traditional WiFi router and WiFi extender setup: Deliver WiFi all over your home where a single WiFi router might not reach.
Unlike a traditional WiFi router and extender setup, mesh systems are designed to use several satellite units throughout a home. Compared to traditional extender setups, Eero delivers much faster internet speeds via each satellite unit. And because you’d ideally have several satellite units throughout your home, the WiFi signal strength should also be stronger.
Mesh WiFi systems also offer other things that traditional routers and extenders don’t …
Mesh systems like Eero are much easier to set up than traditional routers and extenders.
Eero’s setup is incredibly easy. All you have to do is install the Eero app on a mobile device and follow the setup instructions.
The setup instructions are simple: For the primary Eero router, all it involves is plugging into power and connecting it to your model with an Ethernet cable. After you give your mesh WiFi network a name and password, the Eero system and app largely do the rest.
As for the Eero satellite units, you just plug them into power and tell the app you want to set up a new Eero device. From then on, the Eero satellite units and the app do most of the work of connecting to other Eeros to form a mesh WiFi network.
The whole setup experience is painless, simple, and pretty quick, which aren’t usually things that can be said about traditional router and extender setup process.
You never need to switch to an extender’s WiFi network or switch WiFi bands with mesh systems like Eero.
Anyone who’s used a traditional WiFi extender will know that you sometimes need to manually switch your devices to the extender’s own WiFi network when you’re too far from your main WiFi router. That’s mostly because WiFi extenders have their own network name that’s slightly different to your main WiFi network’s name. For example, an extender’s network name might be your main network’s name with the letters “EXT” tagged on, to indicate that it’s your extender’s WiFi network.
Mesh systems like Eero, on the other hand, help your devices automatically switch to the nearest Eero, and each Eero broadcasts the same WiFi network name.
Eero will also automatically connect your devices to the appropriate WiFi band – 2.4GHz and 5Ghz – depending on their needs. If your devices need better range, Eero will automatically connect your devices to the longer-range 2.4GHz band. If you’re close enough to an Eero router, it will connect your devices to the 5GHz band, which offers faster speeds, but has less range than the 2.4GHz band.
To be fair, some recent extenders give options to keep your main WiFi network’s name and bands to make switching easier and automatic. At the same time, you might need to go into the extender’s settings to enable that feature, which can be complicated for a lot of users.
Eero devices maintain themselves by automatically staying up to date, whereas many traditional WiFi routers typically need to be manually updated and aren’t easy to manage.
Eero devices download and install updates automatically without interfering with your daily WiFi usage.
Traditional routers, at least those that I’ve tried, usually need to be updated manually by going into their settings. Some traditional routers have apps these days that make it easier, but some older models still need you to access the settings via a web browser in a process that’s more complicated than using Eero’s app.
WiFi router updates are necessary for security and bug patches, new features, and performance improvements.
Eero’s app is better designed and easier to use than most apps from the big networking companies.
Using apps to control your WiFi network and WiFi routers isn’t especially new, but big networking companies don’t seem to design apps that well, at least when you compare them to apps from companies like Eero and Google.
Netgear’s Orbi mesh system app, for example, isn’t as intuitive as Eero’s app.
Mesh systems like Eero typically have more pleasing and less aggressive designs than some higher-end traditional WiFi routers.
High-end traditional WiFi routers tend to have aggressive designs with antennas sticking out all over the place, like this:
Eero also introduced a subscription service called Eero Plus for extra internet-based features.
Eero’s $US99 per year Eero Plus subscription service offers a threat scan that checks websites for known threats, and prevents you from accessing sites that contain threats.
Eero Plus also tags websites that contain violent, illegal, or adult content, and it lets you manage which devices can or can’t access those sites. It’s handy for preventing kids from accessing sites you don’t want them to visit.
Ad blocking, which blocks ads on websites, comes as part of Eero Plus as well.
You also get subscriptions to three other services with Eero Plus, including up to five accounts with a VPN service called Encrypt.me, a five-member plan with the 1Password password manager, and a three-device plan with anti-malware software Malwarebytes.
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