I set up Amazon‘s $599 Eero Pro 6 mesh Wi-Fi system a few days ago and have already noticed a huge improvement in my Wi-Fi at home.
You might want to try mesh networking if you know you pay for fast internet but feel like your home Wi-Fi is slow or there are areas of your house where you can’t stream movies or video chat. Wi-Fi is important right now, with lots of people working or attending class in different rooms of the house.
Mesh networking, to put it simply, puts several wireless routers around your house so that they cover a greater area. It works better than cheaper Wi-Fi extenders.
The new model from Amazon’s Eero supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 standards, so you can have more gadgets connected to Wi-Fi without as much interference. It also has better antennas than the last generation Eero 5, which I was using before I set up the Eero Pro 6.
Here’s what you need to know about it.
The Eero Pro 6, as with other Eero products, is super easy to set up. You just plug one hub into the modem provided by your cable company and then use an app to add the other two in different parts of your house. It does all the legwork in the background so you don’t have to worry about getting each unit to talk to one another. I set up the new system in about 10 minutes.
I pay for really fast, one-gigabit internet but, normally, I get Wi-Fi speeds that are about 90% slower than that. I live in an old house with plaster walls that really mess up the Wi-Fi signal, even in places that are just a few rooms away from my router.
The Eero Pro 6 has doubled or quadrupled my speeds around the house, boosting them from anywhere around 100Mbps up to 700Mbps, depending on the room I’m in. It means I can now stream game services such as Google Stadia in my living room, where I couldn’t before, or download movies and apps much faster around the house. And it means there’s enough speed for my wife and me to do multiple video streams at the same time.
I haven’t had any issues with dropped connections yet, as I sometimes did with the regular Eero 5 and its competitor Google Wi-Fi, given they didn’t quite have enough strength to cover my whole home.
I don’t have children old enough to use this feature, but Eero also lets you manage different people in your home and block services. So, your kids might not be able to use FaceTime after a certain time, for example, or visit some websites you deem inappropriate.
The regular Eero 6, which I haven’t tested, works similarly but doesn’t provide as strong of an antenna or support the faster speeds I pay for from my cable company. But it may be a good alternative to the Pro model if you live in a smaller home or don’t pay for gigabit internet.
The Eero Pro 6 is expensive. It’s on sale for Black Friday for $479 but otherwise costs $599. That’s more than twice the cost of the regular Eero 6. So, only buy it if you pay for really fast internet (at least 500Mbps) and need to cover up to 6,000 square feet.
This is more geeky, but I also wish one of the access points had more Ethernet ports. There are only two. You’ll always get a faster connection if you’re wired in. It’s best for game consoles where you need the fastest possible connection, or for things that are constantly plugged in such as smart-light hubs or your work computer. I have an extra switch I plug in to the back of the Eero to solve this problem and expand the number of Ethernet jacks, but it’s something folks who care about wired connections should know about.
Sometimes your phone or tablet or laptop will connect to the farthest Eero hotspot. I asked Eero co-founder and CEO Nick Weaver about this during a quick phone call.
He explained that the Eero doesn’t decide which gadget it connects to and, instead, it’s the client device, like your iPhone or tablet, that decides which hotspot to use. Sometimes, that device will connect to the farthest one for whatever reason. But Weaver told me you can turn on a feature called “band steering” that forces your gadgets to use a 5GHz frequency, if available, which can help it connect to the nearest hotspot. Another solution I’ve found: Turn off your Wi-Fi and turn it back on again. But Weaver warned doing this too often can cause a device to be blacklisted from Wi-Fi and will require you to enter your password again.
Gamers and other computer enthusiasts who care about specific Quality of Service, or QoS, settings won’t find them here just yet. Those let you give priority to some devices, such as a game console or a PC, over others. But, Weaver told me that sometimes people forget they have a game console using all the network’s speed and then wonder why other gadgets are running slowly. So, instead, it smartly manages this in the background. But Eero is testing a feature that gives more control to optimize video conferencing and gaming. Anyway, I play lots of games and haven’t had any issues with how the Eero works, so this isn’t a huge deal for me.
Finally, Eero sells subscription services with added security features. There are packages for $2.99 per month or $9.99 per month, with discounts if you subscribe for a full year up front, and they provide extras such as password management and ad blocking. It’s another way Amazon is making money off the product. It doesn’t bother me much since I don’t pay for them and don’t need them, but I’ve heard from some people who say they’ve seen notifications on their phone to subscribe. Dismiss them if you don’t need them.
Yes, if you’re paying for really expensive home internet and aren’t getting the speeds you expect over Wi-Fi, you should consider a mesh networking system like the Eero Pro 6. I’ve been a big fan of Eero’s products over the years and like the latest update, which fixed a lot of the coverage problems I had with even the last generation regular Eero 5.
But it’s expensive, and if you don’t pay for really fast internet, don’t have coverage problems or don’t need to cover a lot of space with Wi-Fi, you don’t need it.