I first checked out the Eero mesh Wi-Fi system at its launch. A set of three identical hardware units working in tandem to deliver Wi-Fi coverage over a residential property, the Eero brought much-needed streamlining to home Wi-Fi installation, but I was put off by its high cost, among other things. A year later, the Eero's price remains the same -- $499 for a set of three (roughly converted to AU$690 or £350), or $199 for a single unit (AU$140 or £70), but the field of competing devices has grown.
What's changed with the Eero since its release is the fact that after numerous software updates, many of which derived from data Eero has gleaned from its customers' real-world usage in the past year, the system is now slightly faster through a new approach to mesh networking Eero's company calls TrueMesh. The Eero also now has Alexa integration and a much more polished mobile app. Between those updates and the expanded competitive field, it's time to give the Eero another look.
At its core, the Eero remains a low-power Wi-Fi system that's easy to set up, and that delivers fast-to-mid-tier internet speeds around every room of your house, depending on the number of Eero units you install.
While the Eero works well, and it has some useful features, I still find it hard to justify its cost, especially considering thein particular delivers a similar experience for $200 less (£159 or AU$264).
Editors' note: This review was significantly updated on February 1, 2017 to reflect new features and additional testing.
How it works
The $499 Eero system consists of three identical compact hardware units. You connect one unit to your internet modem, then place the other two around your home, within wireless range of at least one other unit. Once you follow the relatively simple setup process through Eero's mobile phone app, the units will work together to create a single, seamless Wi-Fi network.
You can also use a single Eero box as a standalone wireless router. Or, you can use the system in bridge mode to extend your existing Wi-Fi coverage to a wider area. Using bridge mode with a non-Eero router, however, means you can't use any of the Eero's features or settings.
Easy setup, internet required
The setup process happens entirely on the Eero mobile app (available on iOS and Android) so all you need to get started is an internet-connected mobile device. If you don't have a smartphone or a tablet, you're out of luck -- you can't set up the system using a computer web browser.
Once you download the free app, follow the onscreen instructions to register an account with Eero, sign in and the rest is self explanatory. The app will help you pick a name and a password for the Wi-Fi network and a name for each hardware unit, such as Office, Kitchen, Living room, Bedroom and so on. You can also type in any name you want. Generally, if you have used a smartphone before, the setup process will take you no more than 15 minutes.
Keep in mind that the Eero connects to the company's cloud-based server at all times. Privacy advocates, take note: Eero says is only takes in diagnostic data to better maximize the mesh network, not user activities such as websites they visit, movies they stream and so on.
Just the basics
Like most Wi-Fi systems, the Eero doesn't have many networking features. In fact it has just one main feature which is the ability to pause the internet for a group of devices, called Family Profiles. You create a profile by picking a name for it, "Kids" for example, after that you can add multiple devices to this profile and the app will create a button for it. Now you can quickly pause this profile by tapping on the Kids button, effectively halting internet access for all devices on this profile. You then can manually unpause or set a time for that to happen automatically. The Google Wifi has a similar feature it calls Family Wi-Fi.
The Eero also has very limited network settings. For example you can't customize the Wi-Fi network at all, other than changing its name or password. For many home users this "just make it work" approach is not necessarily a bad thing. If you want advanced settings and features, you should go with a traditional router, or the. Orbi is a little trickier to set up than the Eero, and it's more expensive -- $230 for one unit (roughly converted to £182 or AU$300), $399 for two (£320 or AU$530). It's faster, though, and it gives you the same level of customization as a traditional router.