Eero Ups The Ante With 2nd Gen Hardware

2016 was the year of the mesh network, with WiFi routers finally breaking free of the commoditized hardware doldrums, and eero ruled the roost (although they didn’t actually serve up a true ‘mesh’ from the get-go) despite some fierce competition from Netgear Orbi. Beyond mesh, eero also successfully emphasized ease-of-use — although what some found simple, others found simplistic. While I’ve had to run my trio in bridge mode for the better part of a year, initial configuration was ridiculously simple and it’s largely been set-and-forget, with stellar throughput available from all corners of our home(s)… other than a transitory perfect storm of events that briefly took me down last December. And now, after 30 software updates since launch, the company is back with new hardware and claims of an even better experience…

Founder and CEO Nick Weaver tells me the second generation eero effectively doubles the performance of the original, in terms of bandwidth and range, largely due to re-engineering the antenna array and moving to triband radios. Whereas the original eero featured identical, interchangeable pods, the new eero system consists of the traditional (iconic?) eero base station and new Beacon satellite units, that take a page from Ubiquiti (and countless painful network extenders), going with a compact, wire-free outlet mount. However, if you appreciate Ethernet connectivity throughout the home, to accessorize (as I do) or for a more robust wired backhaul, all eero models of both generations are mix and match.

Other fun facts: The eero Beacon contains an ambient light sensor and dimmable nightlight (that many of us will simply disable) and the traditionally-shaped eero is powered via a USB-C cable. In our chat, Weaver repeatedly mentioned the home as an operating system, emphasized in practice via forward-looking Thread integration for IoT and an upcoming eero Plus service (with application provider framework) that kicks off with a beefed up proxy to protect against malware and provide enhanced parental controls. 

16 thoughts on “Eero Ups The Ante With 2nd Gen Hardware”

  1. The Beacons supposedly provide better performance than the 1st gen eero but not up to 2nd gen eero performance as it doesn’t include those tri-band radios. Fortunately, as mentioned above, it’s all interoperable (and backwards compatible) – build out your system anyway you like.

    One of my initial reactions to eero, Luma, etc was the high price point. But, in this day and age, investing in one’s network infrastructure seems like a no-brainer. Doesn’t matter how good my FiOS plan is if I can’t reliably stream video to the far reaches of my home. But I’d rather than Alexa or Zigbee in my routers, vs Thread, and something Samsung is exploring with SmartThings integration.

  2. Hi Dave, I think I’ve suffered with my FiOS Quantum router long enough. Have you seen a good comparison between Eero versus Google WiFi? I’ve also been reading up on a FiOS configuration and haven’t seen a definitive answer on the best way to set it up for my 2,700 sq ft 2 story home. I’m thinking 3 mesh devices is the right answer.

  3. I went the unifi route. Bought 3 uap ac lite’s and called it a day. Probably more the speed of your readers who are tinkerers. I did contemplate the eero but my house is wired throughout. At $75/each the lite’s are disposable when the next major leap forward in wifi takes place.

  4. Sam, I know at least two people who gave up on Google WiFi – and think our very own Adam Miarka was one of them. (I had personally given up on OnHub, which is what led me to eero.) If eero doesn’t look right for you, I’d check out Orbi – those are the two I’d recommend in this space if you don’t want to roll your own.

    For reference, my prior home was 3600 and my current is 4000, but split across three levels. But, beyond square footage and footprint, is interference and obstruction. Each scenario will be unique. For FiOS, if you can replace their router with your own, it’ll be better. At my old place, rewiring from MoCA to Ethernet was not going to be trivial due to ONT and homerun placement. At the new place, I may be able to get it done. Although I’ve got about 200 other projects, many higher priority. :)

    Brain, new new house is wired pretty extensively for Ethernet – unlike my former house which had only three or four drops, in largely unsuitable locations. Not sure yet how I’ll ultimately configure the new place. At the moment, everything is wireless with an eero on each floor. Performance has been solid in limited living/testing thus far. We’ll see, may want to take advantage of an Ethernet backhaul – would have to reposition basestation and FiOS router at home run and then move the two satellite units. We turned the “office” into the “playroom” and the “living room” into the “office”, so I don’t have a drop where I’d most like it and definitely no time to fish cable thru drywall in 2017.

  5. CNET wrote in Feb. that Eero was still “not fast enough for bandwidth-heavy local tasks.” I wonder how much that could have changed. These are just range extenders at the end of the day, and most of the antennas’ transmit power is wasted by the point one AP hands off to another AP. Plus the signal is fully exposed to interference from other WLAN channels while it travels from AP to AP to client. Guess I’ll try out Coaxifi instead on my old router and pay 7 times less than Eero.

  6. Mark, hopefully the improved processing power and radios of the new eero improve performance to Orbi levels and the wired backhaul option is there (for a price and assuming Ethernet wiring). I imagine we’ll see some reviews in a few weeks, although the early ones may be limited to initial anecdotal observations and speed tests vs more meaningful, comprehensive analysis. Coaxifi sounds interesting – is there anything else out there on it other than a Kickstarter page that doesn’t look to have reached its funding goals? Or someone else who has done similar? Hm.

  7. Yep, hopefully they’ve upgraded past the QCA9882 chipset and are able to band-steer devices. They also had some challenges on 5 GHz uplink throughput before, but I’m not seeing an improvement per the FCC filings. Their beamforming spectral density dropped by half in the TUV homologation tests at 5210 MHz, between hardware versions A010001 and the latest D010001. Maybe I’m not reading it right, but they should prove out how and where there’s an improvement worth paying for. Then again, people will buy it regardless.

    Not sure on the second point re: Coaxifi, but at last check it says they’ll start selling some of their kits regardless of the Kickstarter campaign. There were a few other companies through the years doing WiFi over coax so hopefully this become more popular outside of train tunnels and enterprise IBW DAS deployments.

  8. Yeah, I always flinch at claims like “double” the performance and specifically asked what and how. Not sure I got exactly the answers I was looking for. Seems safe to assume “better” at the very least and, as this new generation replaces the last on store shelves, the questions are should existing owners upgrade or augment and, for potential customers, how does it compare to Orbi? Again, with the caveat being for those not building their own solutions. Will be interesting to see if that 15.4 Thread radio will ever have anything to communicate with.

  9. I’ve been dealing with spotty WiFi for far too long. I had looked into mesh networks in the past, but also balked at the price. My birthday is coming up, and I was having trouble deciding what I wanted. After an incredibly frustrating night last night that involved me rebooting my home router yet again, I finally decided to look into mesh networks. Seeing the new eero announcement today all over the tech sites provided the impetus I needed to finally take the plunge.

  10. I’ve looked at Orbi and Eero, but honestly since I went with a Netgear R6400 (not a Nighthawk), my Wi-Fi performance has greatly improved. I have a little crappy extender on one side of the house, but since the new router was installed about a year ago, it has not been necessary. I no longer have dead spots, unless I’m far out in the yard, so I think I am going to keep an eye on this, but probably won’t upgrade. I have recommended it for others, but don’t know anyone personally that has it. My house is 2700 sf, and all on one floor, but the router is pretty centrally located which may be why I have such good performance from it.

  11. I’ll stick with my Plume six pods solution that cost less than an Eero three unit pack. The whole house is covered and I’m happy with consistent speed. Still, I’m glad to see continuing competition and improvement.

  12. I think Google is closest to having a smart mesh router/home assistant for less then the cost of the Apple “HomePod”. Since most people use cheap ear buds good enough will win the market.

  13. Have had problems with Wi-Fi in my home forever. Lots of different hardware tried and failed–TP-Link, Netgear Nighthawk, Apple, etc etc. Nothing worked perfectly. Lots of dead spots, lots of issues with devices communicating across Wi-Fi zones, etc. So I was hoping eero would fix all that, even if it was expensive. Well it sort of has. I have four of the devices carefully located and I now get good coverage and throughput all round my home, the garage, front patio, backyard, etc.

    HOWEVER. I regularly run into issues which require a resync. My Apple TV will have network issues with Netflix. Either delete and re-add the network, or just reboot the box and it works again. iPhone stops streaming video from my computer downstairs. Wi-fi off/on toggle and everything is working again.

  14. Re: Glenn’s comment – eero, AirTies, and a few other systems seem to need frequent resyncing. Even though the APs are supposed to automatically find each other, they can’t know when interference is coming from a hidden node on the same channel. As for connected devices, the culprit could be ICMP settings or packet retries, hard to say.

  15. I noticed a few issues in November or December when they first implemented the “TrueMesh” approach and maybe a brief spell in March or April, but have been largely problem free – rare reboots and no manual resyncs, generally very stable compared to when running a Netgear extender or that time I repurposed an older FiOS router as a MoCA/WiFi bridge on the network (and I always seemed to have a problem with powerline when Xbox was in the mix). However, I think Adam Miarka had eero concerns in regards to his corporate VPN. Not sure he’s tried in the last few months – eero updates fairly regularly. But, as Mark implies, it could be device dependent and how that crosstalk is handled (or not as the case may be).

  16. I recently to a hard look at several of the available Mesh networks. And they seemed like a good deal for you average user. But in my case it would have been a step backwards from the five Access Points I currently use. The bandwidth just wasn’t there for the mesh networks. Plus I have around five dozen wireless devices and close to that many wired devices. With my current five APs they can handle all my devices without issue. But it seemed like, from what I read, that the mesh networks would have issues with that many devices. (Plus I now have ten 1500P or higher rez IP cameras sending video 24/7/365 over wifi)

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