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