Despite being nigh on ubiquitous in our homes, Wi-Fi is by no means perfect. Home Wi-Fi networks can suffer from dead spots, weak signals and interference, not to mention being a mystery to many when something goes wrong. The new Eero Wi-Fi system seeks to solve these problems.
Eero argues that we're asking more and more of our Wi-Fi, but using technology that is outdated. The company says that many of us expect to stream music and video wirelessly to multiple devices around the home, but using Wi-Fi equipment that "is shockingly similar to what we had in the 90s."
"We started by acknowledging that it’s just not possible to cover an entire home with a single router," the company says in a blog post. "It's not how Wi-Fi radio waves work – the farther they have to travel and the more obstructions they encounter, the less reliable your connection becomes."
As such, Eero is not a router. Instead it is one or multiple additional units that are located around the user's home. The first unit connects to an existing cable or DSL modem via an auto-sensing Gigabit WAN port and can potentially be used on its own. If additional units are needed, for example in a large home, they just need to be plugged into power sockets in the locations required.
Once connected to an existing home Wi-Fi network and to each other, the Eero units create a "mesh network." The mesh network allows data to be transferred between the multiple Eero points in whatever route is deemed best before it is relayed via the wired connection to the router.
By providing multiple paths for transferring data and by switching between the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency bands when interference is detected, Eero says its system can be both faster and more reliable than a router alone. Eero also uses two radios to further improve its speed, one for communicating with computers and mobile devices and the other for communication among the Eero devices. The company says three of its devices will serve the average home, but up to ten can be used if required.
As well as improving the speed and reliability of a home wireless network, Eero says the system is easy to use, secure and, to some extent, self-managing. A mobile app for iOS and Android is used to set up new Eero networks in a claimed 60 seconds by connecting to the first Eero device via Bluetooth. It is also used to monitor existing networks.
The app allows users to check the speed of a network, to invite guests to a network and to receive notifications when new devices connect to a network. It's also possible to send network login details to a guest user via text message. In addition, the Eero system is said to run regular network check-ups, updates itself and automatically installs security patches. If any problems are detected, the system autonomously reboots itself.
Eero units measure 4.75 x 4.75 x 1.26 in (121 x 121 x 33 mm). They feature a 1 GHz dual-core processor, 512 MB of RAM and 1 GB of flash storage. They are compatible with IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless specifications.
A single Eero can be preordered now for for US$125 or a set of three for $299. The devices are expected to ship around the middle of this year.
The video below provides an introduction to Eero.
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