How much are you willing to pay for good WiFi?

Dave Zatz —  February 24, 2016

eero

To great fanfare, a new player in home WiFi launched this week. Well, at least the reviews did. Eero attempts to mate the coverage and performance of enterprise-esque multi-node networking to drop dead simple configuration via a number of svelte access point pucks. This is not your garden variety commoditized router. Other than some privacy concerns raised, then walked back, by CNET the consensus has been overwhelmingly positive in terms of router configuration and (largely qualitative) wireless analysis. However, despite many with challenging environments and deadspots, I wonder how large exactly is the market for a $500 home WiFi solution?

20 responses to How much are you willing to pay for good WiFi?

  1. My home is wired for Ethernet, so all desktops and servers (yes, multiple!) have a wired Ethernet connection. That also allows me to put multiple Wireless Access Points in different areas of the house. Voila, great Wifi coverage for laptops and mobile devices.

  2. My home was new construction but we didn’t get to pick anything out as it was already done when we found it – so I’ve got Ethernet into three random locations of no value… although I hadn’t considered using them for access points as my coverage/performance is generally pretty decent (in my 3600 sq ft – not sure why Mossberg needs three Apple-installed Airport Extremes). Although I do need a new router to hang off my Verizon one – I had a decent ASUS and I’ve given up removing Verizon’s router from the mix. For now, anyway.

  3. That CNET review was pretty lame.Yikes.Ubiquity hasn’t even solved a low of the roaming issues with AC wifi. I doubt these guys can do much better.

  4. Ubiquiti access points are cheap, and the config server is free.. works great for me.

  5. I spent <$200 on two Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE devices. Between the two, my entire suburban home is bathed in delicious WiFi goodness. My devices do roam fine between the two APs when appropriate. Now, there isn't a spot where I get less than stellar coverage, including the garage and deck.

  6. I’m willing to pay around $40, which is what my basic refurb Linksys dual channel router cost a few years ago. Good enough for me. But then again, my apartment is pretty small.

  7. I have a nice ASUS router in the center of my single story house. However, we have aluminium siding so I’ve placed an omni directional EnGenius outdoor AP attached to the back deck. I’ve also employed a highly directional outdoor AP to throw my wifi 400+ feet to a friends house.

    If I needed better indoor coverage I would probably go with Ubiquiti units.

  8. “not sure why Mossberg needs three Apple-installed Airport Extremes”

    Sure you do, Mossberg is in Tim Cook’s back pocket.

  9. I spent some time yesterday reading the reviews and following a few of the discussions on Reddit. My current setup has my FIOS Quantum gateway downstairs and an Asus hard wired via MoCA upstairs. All WiFi is set to the same SSID. This works pretty reliably for most devices – primarily Apple. I don’t think my setup supports seamless hand off using 802.11r like the eero but I’m not spending $500 for marginal improvement when I roam around the house.

  10. Be careful with Eero. According to their support page, the channel is not configurable. It is always channel 1 for 2.4 GHz and channel 36 for 5 GHz. If those channels aren’t free in your environment, Eero isn’t for you.

  11. Dave, I bet your house has more CAT5 then that, it’s probably just terminated with RG11 instead of 45. Cheap easy fix.

    They lost me at phone home required for config. My two airports work great, the handoff is as smooth as I require. Ubiquity is too slow, we have them at work and I regret buying them.

  12. Nope, three Ethernet runs total and zero phone. I’m sure I showed you my home run… several years ago. :) Since the house wasn’t sold before they finished building, they had no opportunity to upsell me on more jacks, in-wall speaker wire (which is a real bummer), etc – that’s their M.O.

  13. That’s disappointing

  14. Mossberg spells out pretty clearly why he needs three airport extremes in his review. I have 3 also, to cover from my basement to my attic, and out to my garage. It’s the only way I can stream MLB audio without dropouts, and I like the configuration options.

    If this Eero system had been available a year ago, I might have done that instead. My refurbished APs weren’t as expensive as an Eero system, and I do have Ethernet, however.

  15. Ben, with the baby’s arrival, Melissa’s ready for us to find a new house with a bigger kitchen and a more open floor plan. So it may only matter another year. ;) Sadly, none of the three Ethernet drops are upstairs where I’d most benefit – just basement and main level.

    Paul, whatever it takes to get it done I guess! I assume you came up with your configuration without Apple and ISP’s assistance and would wager you don’t require regular reboots of everything.

    I do agree with Mossberg about shutting off the Verizon router’s WiFi and using something else – I’ve activated and deactivated their Quantum router twice. Coverage and speed are inferior to my (former) ASUS and I experience periodic drops/pauses that I never see with Actiontec, which is back in play. That single router in the center of my basement, about 5′ up was sufficient to blanket most of the house in what I’d call good coverage. If I move it to the back of the house in the basement and used MoCA to attach something to the upstairs front bedroom, I suspect I’d have stellar coverage at all points. (We’ve talked before about my challenges flipping from MoCA to Ethernet and doing away with Verizon’s router altogether. Not sure it’s worth revisiting.)

  16. Huh, I guess everybody in the world is happy with their Wi-Fi coverage. Personally I’ve swapped out more base units and extenders than I care to list and still don’t have coverage in lots of places. The Eero system has a significant attraction to me if it works.

    My network is like yours Dave–Ethernet in the walls that doesn’t go where I need it, so its a patchwork of Ethernet over power lines together with MoCA plus two Wi-Fi units just to get decent coverage and all the devices hooked up. Lots of extenders I’ve tried required unique SSIDs and there were a LOT of things (Apple AirPrint? for one) that wouldn’t work across the two networks. Phones often had to have Wi-Fi toggled off/on to force them to latch onto the stronger signal etc etc. Sucked.

    Currently everything works but … every so often everything has to be turned off and back on in the right order. If there’s a power outage certain things won’t work until you recycle stuff. No coverage in the back yard. Could still use some work. Course I won’t take a flying leap at this until somebody who’s had it for months reports on how things went…

  17. My only experience with mesh networking is Sonos, but that routinely fails, even with an Ethernet Connect and two Play Speakers every 15 feet. The app routinely is unable to play either FLACs or MP3s because of network congestion and buffering, and I don’t see how the eero is going to be any better.

  18. I’m in Glenn’s camp. I have spent much time, effort and money – a new router every year or so, extenders, antennas, power line, you name it we’ve tried it – walls in our home seem to be able to stop Wi-Fi magically. I can say that I’ve probably owned at least one router from each major router manufacturer over the past eight years, so can’t blame anyone except the house, a late 80s house with 4,200 SqFt and no way to get runs to where we need them. I’m tired of power cycling and the random weirdness and lack of coverage in places, but the final nail in the coffin was the two new MacBook Pros for Christmas, when they wake from sleep, Wi-Fi needs to be turned on and off before it will reconnect – both the laptop and the router show that they are connected, but won’t pass any data from router to laptop. With 3 others in the house that are using Wi-Fi devices and expecting Dad to fix their buffering or dropped connection problems I would spend pretty much any amount of money to not have to deal with it.

    So that being said, got my Eero last week — was painless and so far so good. I literally have Wi-Fi everywhere – it’s pretty awesome. I’ve been really happy after five days with other solutions, so the jury is still out, but at this point, I have to say, it’s really nice having Wi-Fi that works everywhere in the house, even for $500 and it even fixed the MacBook waking from sleep issue :)

    More to come…

  19. I run four Access Points in my 1350 sq. ft. condo. I’ll probably add a fifth soon. Since I have dozens of WiFi devices and dozens of wired devices(over 100 devices on my home network) I need multiple APs to make sure all my wireless devices have excellent signal strength, plenty of bandwidth, and no congestion. Things would bog down with just three APs.

  20. Not robust enough, no vpn server, no UTM, only one channel. Maybe gen two will deliver.