Amazon on Wednesday upgraded its Eero Wi-Fi system with new radio technology and cut the price of a three-device system to $249 to better blanket your home in Wi-Fi. That's a major price cut from the $500 for the earlier Eero Pro system or the $400 alternative with one Eero and two beacons.
The new Eero uses a dual-band radio, said Dave Limp, Amazon's head of hardware, at a majorWednesday. That approach that's useful for wireless "backhaul" connections that send data from one Eero to another.
"The all-new Eero builds on the same simplicity and reliability of the Eero Pro and Eero Beacon, but it adds a whole set of functions," Limp said. Along with the dual-band radio, there's "adaptive backhaul," but he didn't detail how that improves performance.
Eero access points plug into power outlets in different rooms of a house to ensure everyone -- and every device -- can connect to the internet. Amazon announced it at a fall event to debut a new generation of Alexa-powered Echo smart speakers and other Amazon devices.
Amazon also is expanding Eero's Alexa-powered voice control technology, now letting parents use an Echo to pause the Wi-Fi to the PlayStation or to a child's tablet. There's also a command for turning Guest Wi-Fi on and off. That'll spread to other companies' network equipment, too: Asus and TP-Link to start this year, with Arris and Linksys following.
Gone are the days when our home networks had to handle just a home computer and a couple of smartphones. Now we've got cars, printers, smartwatches, TVs, video streamers and a gaggle of smart home products like Amazon's networked smart speakers, power outlets, clocks and e-book readers.
Amazon acquired Eero earlier this year, giving it network products that can anchor all those devices.
San Francisco-based Eero got an early start with mesh networking, but now it's got competition from other products like Netgear's Orbi, Google's Wifi and Amplifi's Instant Mesh. Mesh networking is unusual today, but expect it to spread farther. It's built into the network equipment chips from chipmaker Qualcomm, and Wi-Fi industry players also have a mesh networking standard called EasyMesh.
It's not clear whether the new Eero uses the new Wi-Fi 6 network technology. That latest incarnation of the 2-decade-old wireless networking is more adept at handling the crush of devices. That should help when you want to watch 4K TV in one room without crippling the online multiplayer gaming going on in the next room.
If you don't want the Eero mesh technology, you can get a single new Eero router for $99, another big price cut from the last-gen Eero Pro at $199. Amazon is selling the third-generation Eero network equipment now and will release it later this year in Europe.
After Amazon acquired Eero, some expressed concerns about Amazon's appetite for user data. That prompted Eero to reaffirm its reputation for protecting user privacy.
"We believe all customers have a right to privacy and that means being clear with what data we're collecting, explaining why in easy to understand terms, and giving our customers control over their data," Eero founder and CEO Nick Weaver wrote in a blog post discussing the acquisition. Eero works to "actively minimize the amount of data to which we have access," he said.
The deal offered another indication of Amazon's ambitions to control as many aspects of the connected home as it can. The company's Echo smart speakers already dominate the US market, and it sells Fire TV streamers, Blink security cameras and Ring video doorbells, too. All of those devices require a steady Wi-Fi connection, which positions Eero right at the heart of the ecosystem Amazon is trying to build.