Price (RRP): $429 ($199 for 1-pack)
For years I’ve been hearing the word “eero” in advertisements on podcasts. Most of them have been US ones, but as of a month ago, the Eero Wifi System has become available in Australia. What is it?
Review: Eero Wifi System
- Australian Website here. (If that looks to you like Amazon, that’s because it is. Amazon now owns Eero and sells it here. There is no direct Australian Eero website.)
- Support pages here. There does not appear to be a manual.
- Price: A$429 for 3-pack, $199 for 1-pack.
- From: Amazon.
- Warranty: 12-months
- Country of Manufacture: Vietnam
- About: Eero is an American company based in San Francisco. It was established in 2015 and pretty much created the whole mesh Wi-Fi thing. In 2019 Amazon purchased Eero for a reported $US97 million.
What is Eero?
Eero is a mesh Wi-Fi system. Each Eero unit acts as a Wi-Fi access point for the various devices in your home. But each unit also talks via Wi-Fi to any of the other units in the system. Between them, they intelligently route Wi-Fi traffic to the node which provides best connectivity to the device in question. That inter-unit communication is called “backhaul”.
What Eero promises on the box is “Simple, reliable wifi for any home.”
Let’s establish a proper expectation here. You can read all about mesh Wi-Fi here in the boss’ extensive writeup. He is properly cautionary about it. The fact is, you can get much higher performance than any mesh system by purchasing and establishing more traditional devices: Wi-Fi extenders and such. They can provide the “reliable” part of Eero’s formulation, but not necessarily the “simple” part. If you’re comfortable with fiddling with settings in network routers and other devices, and with laying Ethernet cable around the place, go for it.
But if you’re a regular person who doesn’t necessarily know what “DHCP” means, then Eero is a very easy way of placing reliable Wi-Fi throughout your home.
Eero is available as either a one-pack or a three-pack. It says that the single pack is good for a home of up to 140 square metres, while the triple pack is intended for homes of up to 460 square metres. That is one large home. The recommended Eero installation has one of the units plugged into your modem and then it (or all three) managing the whole network, allocating IP addresses and sharing a single SSID so that your devices can skip seamlessly from one to another.
I was supplied the 3-pack. The three eeros are identical. As you can see from the photos, each is shiny white, and a shape that’s hard to describe but not unpleasant to the eye. They can be tucked away somewhat out of sight because each eero is only 98mm on a side and 60mm tall. Each only has three hardware connections: two gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB Type-C connection for power. Each unit is supplied with a power adaptor and cable.
Typically you’ll plug two of them into power only, while the third will be connected to both power and an existing modem, gateway or router. You can use the Ethernet connection on any of the units for any network devices that don’t have built-in Wi-Fi. For example, you might have a PVR next to your TV that has network capabilities if plugged into your network system.
But you can also use the Ethernet connection for wired backhaul. Perhaps your home already has network cabling installed between two distant parts. Using wired backhaul relieves the Eero system of using Wi-Fi for the mesh, releasing it to be used to connect to devices instead.
Eero specifies its Wi-Fi connectivity so: “Dual-band wifi radios, simultaneous 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, 2×2 MU-MIMO, beamforming, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac”.
What I wanted from Eero
My office is out the back of my home in a separate building. My FTTN Internet connection is to the office. I use a high-end D-Link Cobra modem/router in the office. The house is connected via Cat5e Ethernet cabling (I had it done quite a few years ago). Inside the house I typically use a repurposed D-Link DIR-882 AC2600 “EXO” MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Gigabit Router, reconfigured to bridge mode, to serve the Wi-Fi needs of the home. Sometimes I feel that it isn’t getting to the far reaches of the home quite as well as I would like.
Would the Eero 3-pack do better at that?
Now, the creators of the Eero really want you to have Eero running the whole show. That is, if you already have a router, then they’d prefer that you unplug it and put one of the Eero units in its place. If you have a modem/router, then they want you to disable the router section.
But I wanted to keep the Cobra running in the office and have three Eeros scattered throughout the home. Doable?
Absolutely, although I had to drill down into the settings a bit to put the Eero system into Bridge mode. That means it continues to do all its clever stuff in the areas where it’s operating, but leaves things like allocating IP addresses to the main router, in this case the Cobra.