A review of the eero home WiFi system.
Games & Software: Android
Technology: App / Software
Games & Software: iOS
What the heck is eero? The name is pretty strange, sort feels like they picked it because they found a short, available domain name (eero.com) more than anything else. In short, eero is just a WiFi router. If you have WiFi then why would you want this?
Well, traditional WiFi routers are flawed from the get-go because they broadcast their signal from a single point in your house. If you have a small house and place your router in the center then maybe you’re fine. But what happens if you have a larger house and/or multiple floors? Then WiFi isn’t always so great because of dead zones (places where the WiFi signal is low or doesn’t reach at all).
Dead zones lead to slow Internet speeds and, for many, that means slow gaming, video streaming, buffering, and general annoyances. That’s right, real first world problems.
So eero set out to change all of that. The company says that eero is “WiFi that actually works” and that it “eliminates buffering and dead zones in even the hardest-to-reach corners.” How do they do this? Simple, instead of just one WiFi router you have two or three (or more) spread out across your home.
Each one talks to the other wirelessly to create a sort of mesh network that blankets your house in speedy WiFi. It’s recommend to use one eero for every 1000 square feet you have in your home.
Best of all, setup is said to be a piece of cake! Just use the iOS or Android app, plug one of the eeros into your Internet modem, and follow some simple directions. The concept is certainly a great one!
The eero company makes two big, bold claims. One is that these routers will solve your WiFi issues for good (fast speeds, no dead zones). The other is that setup will be super simple. Unfortunately, setup for me was anything but simple.
I’m a tech guy and I still spent two hours making it work. The setup app is super easy to use and understand and involves little more than plugging in one eero to your modem and typing in a WiFi network name and password. Simple, right?
Only, it failed me many times in a row. It couldn’t make the network and the over-simplified app wouldn’t give me a detailed reason why. I rebooted everything (smartphone, modem, and eero) multiple times and still no luck.
I emailed support and then found a help article telling me to try putting my modem into “bridge” mode. The process to do that was very strange and at one point caused me to think I “bricked” my modem. It involved entering an IP address into a browser and digging into settings. Not too much for me but if my parents tried this they’d never have figured it out. So much for the easy setup claim.
So what did I do? I got bridge mode to work on the modem but the eero setup process still failed at the same point. I rebooted everything a couple more times and still no luck. Another reboot and it all worked. Couldn’t tell you why, I did nothing different each time.
I assume most won’t have these issues, but if you do it’s certainly annoying. As for that support? On a weekend I assumed I’d see no reply, but the CEO was checking and replied hours later. It’s a small company so it’s not like Bill Gates or Michael Dell took time to check support tickets, but still, it renewed my faith in the company at least and by that point I had it working. They even apologized for the trouble and agreed it shouldn’t have worked like it did for me.
Does It Work?
In a word, yes! It works very, very well. I have WiFi all over my house (around 2k sq ft, two stories) and almost always full WiFi “bars” on my smartphone everywhere. Previously, I’d lose signal completely in one room and get about half signal in some parts of my house. Better still, I’m only using two of the three eeros I have so far. Both are on the bottom floor and I get full signal even on my second floor now.
At any point you can add or remove another eero unit and it just sets itself up. So once you have things set up initially it's literally plug and play for additional eero units.
Overall, I’m really impressed with eero and the company. But it’s not a perfect product, yet. I feel like eero will be vastly improved over time, especially because they automatically roll out updates as they improve the app and the routers. That’s right, your routers are always up to date so no more searching for firmware files and all of that non-sense. It’s the Tesla model applied to your router.
The app is a little basic even though they have rolled out an update just a couple of days ago. Not sure what else I would even want the app to do, but feels like it could use a few more bells and whistles.
The eero units run pretty warm. Not burn-your-hand-hot or anything, but warm. So warm that I emailed the company to make sure that was normal. They assured me the heat is normal and they’re safe even if placed in a cabinet (for best signal, leaving them out in the open is best but they work fine in cabinets for me).
In terms of power use, I measured the wattage and they each pull 4-5 watts all the time which is about as much as a non-LED night light. So around 35-40Kwh per year per eero. If you pay 10 cents per Kwh then each eero will cost you around $4 per year to operate, so $8 or $12 per year for 2 or 3 units. Not too bad but in a place like Hawaii that translates to $30 to $45 per year for 2 or 3 units.
The final issue is with the availability of Ethernet ports on the eero routers. Each router has 2 Ethernet ports (for plugging in Cat5 style network cables as well as one USB port). One will be used to connect to your modem, which leaves one left on the primary router. So I had to buy a cheap 8 port switch to connect all of my cables up to it. Would love to see these come loaded with Ethernet ports considering the price.
Speaking of price, expect this to be the priciest WiFi you’ll ever buy. A single eero is around $200 while a three pack will run you around $500. That’s right, $500 for WiFi to blanket your house. Ouch. I believe I paid $400 for all three but that was back during their Kickstarter days which was a long, long time ago.
ConclusionWould I recommend this if you have spotty WiFi? Yes! Although the setup process had me worried, I assume most will do better. Worst case, their support is pretty good.
My biggest complaint is with the price, it’s incredibly expensive when compared to a normal WiFi router that you can easily buy for well under $100. If you have a small house or apartment this isn’t for you. If you have a bigger place and/or trouble getting WiFi all over then this might be worth the investment, so go buy one.
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