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Luma Surround WiFi review: Luma's overpriced mesh wifi system can't stand out

The Luma Surround Wi-Fi home mesh system doesn't have much to justify its high cost. Here's CNET's full review.

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
6 min read

After having reviewed the Google Wifi and the Eero, I found the Luma a bit of deja vu. It's a similar home mesh Wi-Fi system with three identical hardware units, a mobile app, large Wi-Fi coverage and speed fast enough to deliver a moderate broadband connection.


Luma Surround WiFi

The Good

The Luma Surround Wifi is compact, reliable and can cover a large home with Wi-Fi

The Bad

The Luma's Wi-Fi speed is slow and its mobile app can be hard for first-time users to figure out. Features and settings are limited and the system won't work with certain types of internet sources or in bridge mode.

The Bottom Line

The Luma is a decent Wi-Fi solution but it's not compelling enough to make you pick it over others.

The Luma has a few distinctive features, including security and web filtering features, but neither screams "must-have." The system's performance and mobile app could also use some improvement. And at $399 for a set of three units, the Luma is definitely overpriced, considering the Google Wifi costs $100 less while being faster and easier to use to boot.

In all, the Luma is like a fast food restaurant, you'll probably get filled up and be happy for a short while if you get it, but won't miss out on much if you decide to skip it.

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Enlarge Image

The Luma is available in three identical hardware units.

Dong Ngo

How does it work?

Like most Wi-Fi systems, one unit of the Luma acts as the main router unit to connect to your broadband modem. You then place the other two units about 40 feet away to extend your Wi-Fi coverage and bring wireless internet to your entire home.

The whole setup process is easy, provided you have a smartphone -- the Luma mobile app is the only tool for setup and ongoing management of the system -- you must also be willing to sign up for an account with Luma. The Luma must be connected to the vendor at all times in order to work properly and for you to control it. You can't manage your Luma-powered home network without an outside internet connection.

The good news is there's not much to manage since the Luma has a limited set of features and customizations. Basically, all you can do is play around with the web filtering and internet pause/prioritization. To be fair, limited features and settings are common to most Wi-Fi systems, including the Google Wifi and the Eero. These are extremely simplified Wi-Fi solutions for those who just want get online quickly and conveniently.

What I like about it

  • The design: The Luma is compact. Each unit is just about two-thirds the size of an Eero unit. In my testing it could cover about 4,000 square feet in a residential setting with a sustained Wi-Fi speed of around 50Mbps. That's quite impressive.
  • Internet pause: Similar to the Google and Eero, you can use the mobile app to pause internet access for the entire network or for a group of devices.
  • Alexa integration: You can use voice commands via Amazon's Alexa to make Luma perform certain tasks, such as pausing the internet or prioritizing a device. Keep in mind, however, once Alexa's skills are turned on, your kids can ask Alexa to do what they want, too, including resuming the internet.
  • Built-in security: This feature, called Network Secure, is unique to the Luma. It supposedly can protect the entire network against cyber threats. I didn't use the Luma long enough to find out how effective this feature is, however.
Enlarge Image

Each Luma unit has two network ports.

Dong Ngo

What I don't like about it

  • Unintuitive mobile app: Luma's mobile app is easy to use during setup, but it's not the best for day-to-day use. For example, the home screen shows the number of connected devices, but you can't just tap on that number to go to the list of these devices. For that you first need to tap on the People section, then on tab Devices. Also, there's no way to differentiate between currently connected device and devices that have only connected to the network once. This means that after a while, you will see a long list of devices, most of which have long since disconnected from the network, and making it hard to find out which one is which. You can't find out which devices are connected to which Luma unit, either.
  • No bridge mode: You can't use the Luma in bridge mode (both the Google Wifi and the Eero can); it works only in router mode. This means that if you use it behind another router, such as combo router/modem gateway, devices connected to the gateway and those connected to the Luma will not be able to communicate with one another locally. This means you might not be able to stream media, perform local backups, or share data between them.
  • It works only with selected internet sources: If you use the Luma as the only router that connects to your broadband modem, you won't have any problem. However if you use it with an existing network (like in a campus or at an office) it might not work at all. In my testing, the Luma didn't work when I tested it in CNET's San Francisco office, where all other routers and Wi-Fi systems I've tested have functioned without any problem. A call to Luma revealed that if the existing network that the Luma is plugged into has certain ports closed for security purposes, the Luma won't be able to connect its clients to the internet.
  • Limited web filtering: The Luma's web filtering feature can restrict online content in five levels: unrestricted, R-rated, PG-13, PG and G. You can apply a level to the entire network or just to a group of computers. However, it's not clear what each level blocks, and there's no way to block individual websites.

CNET Labs' Wi-Fi system performance

Portal (single router) 543.3 237Google Wifi (single router) 450.6 201.4Eero (single router) 447.4 180.2Netgear Orbi (single router) 416.2 229.6Netgear Orbi (via one extender) 415.83 229.3Linksys Velop (single router) 383.1 209.2Luma (single unit) 322.6 71.8Almond 3 (single router) 315.8 220.6Portal (via one extender) 244 84Linksys Velop (via one extender) 222.3 198.6Google Wifi (via one extender) 206.9 155.8Eero (via one extender) 179.2 146.7Almond 3 (via one extender) 159.1 110.1Luma (via one extender) 124.2 80.9
  • Close range
  • Long range
Note: Measured in megabits per second. Longer bars means better performance.


The Luma performed relatively well in my testing, though it was the slowest of the three systems mentioned in this review. As a single unit, at close range of 15 feet, it has sustained Wi-Fi speed of 323 megabit per second. At a longer distance, some 70 feet away with one wall in between, it averaged just 88Mbps.

Like the Google Wifi and the Eero, the Luma has no separate wireless band for backhaul, the job of connecting the hardware units together. This means the systems suffer from signal loss, which is the 50-percent efficiency reduction when the satellite unit has to both receive and rebroadcast the signal. That said, Wi-Fi devices connected to the second Luma unit have a sustained Wi-Fi speed of just 124Mbps and 81Mbps at close and long distances, respectively. You can expect the speed to degrade further if you place the third unit even farther away. To minimize signal loss, you should place both satellite units around the first router unit instead. You can also eliminated signal loss completely by connecting the units together using network cables, but that also does away with the convenience factor.

In all, the Luma is fast enough if you have an average broadband connection, one that has around 50Mbps download speed. If you have faster internet speed or want a fast local network, it's definitely not what you're looking for.

The Luma failed my 24-hour stress test. During this time it was set to transfer data back and forth from a few clients and it showed disconnections after a few hours. This is likely because of automatic updates that require the system to restart.

Should I get one?

The Luma is clearly not one of the fastest Wi-Fi system I've tested, and its mobile app needs some major redesign. That said, I don't see why you should pick it over the Google Wifi, which costs $100 less yet is faster and easier to use. And compared with the Eero, which costs $100 more, the Luma's only advantage is its price.

You should consider the Luma only if you're looking for an easy way to share a moderate internet connection. It doesn't have the speed to consistently and fully deliver anything faster than 50Mbps.


Luma Surround WiFi

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 5Performance 6Support 7