Hands On With eero, Or A Noob’s Guide To Building An At-Home Wireless Mesh Network

Smart wireless routing system eero finally ships to more than 25,000 early buyers today but does it measure up to the promise of better, faster, stronger Internet throughout your home? We put it to the test.

eero was supposed to go out late last year to those who bought the system during pre-launch but a manufacturing hiccup pushed the ship date to the here and now.

But the startup has toiled away for well over a year to hopefully solve the agonizing pain of waiting for the next episode of your favorite Netflix show to load – It does this with a step-by-step Wifi mesh network kit you can set up through your smartphone. The end result, if all goes well, is faster internet through tiny, square routers essentially beaming a stronger signal to various rooms in your home.

How To Internet

Instead of one router in the middle of your apartment, the eero offers several of its little devices for placement about the home. The base kit comes with three routing devices, each covering up to 40 ft with the ability to send the signal through walls. So if your router sits in the living room (like mine does) and you have a strong signal there, but your Internet tends to be slow in other parts of your home like the kitchen or bedroom, just place one of these tiny little squares in that room and you should start to get a faster connection.

The look of the device is reminiscent of Apple’s Airport Express routers – The eero design is a slight bit curvier but both are tiny white squares with a glossy top and come with dual WiFi radio for simultaneous transmission of both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. Like Airport, eero supports devices with 802.11a/b/g/n specifications and comes with a 1GHz dual-core processor. Each eero device also includes 512MB of RAM and 1GB of flash storage.


Polyandrous Routing

There are numerous reasons your network just isn’t working for you anymore. It may be slow because the network you use is having issues or something outside of your control is blocking it. But it’s likely not your service provider, eero co-founder Nick Weaver tells me. “If the signal is strong in your living room but not your bedroom it’s probably the router,” he says. “Half of America streams Netflix on a nightly basis. You gotta have a better router.”

Comcast might agree. Call customer service and the first thing the person on the other end will tell you to do is usually reset your routing device.

But most routers aren’t capable of beaming all corners of your abode, not even in a tiny 800 sq ft space. “You need access points,” Weaver told me on a recent visit to the TechCrunch office. “A lot of the larger buildings have this type of setup. You probably have that.” (disclosure: I have no idea what we have and am content that we can call a guy if it doesn’t).

Putting It To The Test

img-features-dashboardeero promises easy setup, no need for wiring or calling someone, and a cloud infrastructure to route your data “intelligently” throughout the home. Weaver assured me it was as easy as clicking a few buttons on my phone. It pretty much was.

The kit comes with three devices, your starter device hooks into the Ethernet port of your modem. The app will walk you through the process of setup. You decide where to place the other two devices.

I placed my starter device right next to my modem in the living room and the others in the kitchen and my bedroom. You can also purchase more devices should you have a large space and need more routers to carry the signal.

Caution: Each device shines a little bluish-white light on the side to let you know it’s working. It’s very bright. You’ll want to make sure you place the device away from your bed and that the light is not facing where you place your head or it will keep you up at night.

It took a minute to get the devices to chat with my phone and it took about a day or so for the system to kick in (it warns you it will take some time to do this), but I did find a much better WiFi throughout my apartment while using eero. Your Internet speed is likely going to be different than mine and depends on your provider but the app also tells you in real-time how fast your download and upload speed is so you can measure performance over time.

Another nice feature of eero is the ability to simply text visiting friends to give them access to your Internet. You can also add them through the app if they already have eero installed on their phone.

Overall I was pleased with my eero experience and enjoyed going down the YouTube rabbit hole of endless videos with abandon. So eero holds up to its promise for me, at least.

But is it worth the price? You can buy a three pack of the eero devices starting at $499 or $199 for an individual (compare to $99 for Airport Express or $199 for Airport Extreme). The price is a bit steep for a router, but you might think it’s worth it to not have to worry about your WiFi bonking out at an inopportune moment.