The Amazon Eero is now available in Australia and if you’re struggling to get good wifi performance to all corners of your home, then it’s definitely worth a look. I’ve had a chance to try out the mesh Wi-Fi system over the past couple of weeks and it’s time to break down what’s great and what’s needs improving.
Regardless of what you do with your internet connection, we can all agree, that the goal is to minimise the loss between the internet coming into your house (your router) and your device.
From streaming Netflix, to gaming online, or just regular working from home and video conferencing, having the best possible WiFi speeds will make for the best possible experience. While it’s easy to upgrade a laptop or phone, the reality is, most of our apps and use cases, rely on network connections and the perceived speed of the device is heavily dependant on the speed of your WiFi.
eero is a mesh Wi-Fi system that replaces your existing Wi-Fi router and extends Wi-Fi coverage seamlessly throughout your home. A single eero plugs directly into your modem, while additional eero devices extend your network’s range wirelessly or via Ethernet connections.
Curves in all the right places
The Eero hardware is essentially small, hockey-puck sized devices that are about the size of your fist. Being a glossy white finish, these actually integrate fairly well on benchtops and if you can find somewhere central in your house, like that spare power point in your kitchen, you’ll get the best results.
Given these are going to be on show, I’m glad Amazon hasn’t tried to make a bold statement crazy colours, instead opting for a more subtle design that is unlikely to offend. Given you need to have these out in the open (not tucked away behind cabinets or on the floor, you’ll likely get some questions from friends about what the device is and does. This is easy enough to explain, but also serves Amazon well as a talking point.
The design of the out of box experience I think is equally important as the industrial design. The messaging inside the box guides you to the mobile app for setup and downloading, installing the free app is really straight forward.
The setup process suggests you disconnect your existing router. Personally I have a modem/router in one (like many) so needed it to stay on. I connected the first of the 3 devices to power via it’s USB-C power pack next to the router in the garage. I then followed the instructions in the app to connect an ethernet cable between my router and the first Eero. This provides internet to start the mesh WiFi network.
Wanting to separate the existing WiFi (from my router) from the new WiFi (from the Eero), I gave the Eero WiFi a different name. This enabled me to connect to different WiFi networks to run speed tests and compare the router’s wireless performance to eero.
After the first was set up, the app invites you to set up the next device, then the next, making the setup of the last 2 devices as simple as connecting the power and a couple of taps of the next button. During this setup the system is testing the location of your newest device, relative to the rest of the network, to ensure it can receive (and then broadcast) a solid connection.
After testing was complete, I simply renamed the Eero network with the same SSID and password as my normal wireless network and all devices in the home connected flawlessly, just a whole lot faster.
Essentially the setup was really straight forward and the success of this is really achieved through good design on the software side of things.
How does it perform ?
Let me preface this with the fact that all homes will have different configurations so results may certainly vary.
Ok with that out of the way, my specific setup is this. I have an FTTP NBN connection running a 1Gbps/50Mbps connection with Aussie Broadband. This terminates in the garage in an NBN NTD. This fibre is then converted to an ethernet connection, that is wired to a pretty decent gaming router.
The Netgear Nighthawk XR700 router has pretty decent wifi speeds, however, any router is challenged by distance. With the garage at one end of the house, the furtherest rooms in our house are as much as 20 metres away from the router. The wifi range is not the only problem, but we also have 6 walls the signal needs to penetrate as well.
Speed tests at the extreme corner of our house yields around 30Mbps down. While still acceptable for most use cases today, it is an interesting baseline to see what improvements can be made by adding mesh WiFi in the house.
After connecting the 3x Amazon Eero devices, fairly equal distances apart, I ran another speed test. The results were pretty amazing. I was now able to reliably achieve more than 100Mbps at the end of the house. That’s more than triple the speed previously achievable with just the router alone.
I expected a gain, but not by that much, that’s a really significant improvement and in years to come where we could have 2 or 3x 8K TVs plus our regular internet demands, these speed increases will be no longer a luxury, but a necessity.
Of course if you’re building a new house, you always have the option to run ethernet cables to all your rooms, but more commonly, people are opting to simplify their home networks and just run WiFi. Results like this, really justify and make that possible for a few hundred dollars, it’s also likely a cheaper option.
Inside the devices lies a 700 MHz quad-core processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB flash storage. That’s an amazing level of performance to fit in such a small hockey puck design, but then again, modern smartphones are also amazing in their capabilities and thickness.
Amazon says the 1-pack is best for homes up to 140 sq.m, while the 3-pack is best for homes up to 460 sq.m.
In terms of maximum performance, the 1-pack can achieve up to 550 Mbps, while the 3-pack will deliver internet speeds up to 350 Mbps. My office sites adjacent to the garage and through a wall I was able to achieve a download speed of 263Mbps and up of 42.2Mbps.
Stand out features of this device.
Secure with Automatic Updates
Traditional routers require you to proactively search for, download, and install security updates. With eero, you get automatic software updates that ensure you’re always running the latest security patches, bug fixes, and features. To be honest, this should be an absolute must-have with your next piece of networking equipment. Enterprise devices like Meraki have been doing this for years, so its great to see it finally reach the consumer world.
Like most products these days, they integrate with voice assistant Alexa. Obviously being an Amazon product, this is a natural fit and if you’re already an Alexa user, this is a big win. The Eero skill for Alexa allows for some pretty interesting applications. If you’re a parent, then you can grab your child’s attention with commands like:
- “Alexa, pause the PlayStation Wi-Fi”
- “Alexa, pause the Wi-Fi for 20 minutes”, or even
- “Alexa, unpause the Wi-Fi for Timmy”
Because you can see devices connected to your Eero’s wifi network through the app, you can also easily control them. One option is to set up a schedule. This is time of day, days of the week etc that enables you to limit device access as required. A great use for this may be that iPads go off at 8pm at night and don’t get to connect again till 7AM the next morning.
Let’s say you rent out your place as an Airbnb, while you go away on holidays (post-COVID) and want to ensure only your TV is used on the internet while you’re away, you could easily do this. Better yet, if you forget to do this before you leave, you can do it remotely.
These restrictions can be applied in a profile, then you simply decide which devices on you’re network you want to add to that profile and the rules will be applied.
Eero has support for Apple’s HomeKit, which means you have a really easy way to manage what IoT devices are allowed to do in your home and on the internet.
With Eero, you get dual-band Wi-Fi radios, both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz simultaneous as well as 2×2 MU-MIMO, beamforming and support for 802.11a/b/g/n/ac.
Not everything’s perfect
The only complaint I have with the Eero is the price. Technically this product is really solid, easy to set up, great performance and great features. Of course a device like that (with 3x hardware devices) won’t come cheap, but imagining most people go for the 3-pack, you’re talking about $429.00.
Compare that to the $100 special that comes with most NBN packages and it’s a steep challenge to convince people it’s worth more than 4x that value. If this Eero was cheaper, more people could access it and have great internet in their homes.
While it’s great to do speed tests on your router to confirm you’re getting the speeds paying for, most of us interact with the internet in our homes over WiFi, so the perceived speed of our internet is really a reflection of how fast your WiFi is to your phone or laptop, not what comes into the wall.
Perhaps a way to bring the price down would be to offer a 2-pack. At 2x A$199 for two single devices, you’re at $400 which is just $30 off a 3-pack. I expect there’s a number of homes that are sized in such a way that would only require 2 mesh devices, so a 2-pack at $250 feels like a far more approachable number.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
I’m insanely happy with the performance boost I received with the Eero. I was expecting a bump, but more than triple my speed in the furthest corner, that was seriously impressive.
When it comes to the locations of the devices, I would love to hide them away from a little more, like in a TV entertainment unit, rather than on top for example, but obviously that has impacts on the range. Depending on the size of your WiFi challenge, you may be able to achieve this.
One of my favourite features is the automatic updating and between the time the product was made and shipped to me, there has already been an update. This just makes the ongoing maintenance of security issues a thing fo the past and not something I need to lend my mind to.
The final thing I’ll say is that I love the attention to detail. A key representation of this is that when you categorise the type of a device on your network, it has a Car as one of the choices. I’m fortunate enough to have an internet-connected car in the garage that connects to our WiFi network, and having that choice in the software, just reflects the level of detail that Amazon engineers are putting into this.
With the incredible performance results I achieved, of course, I’m going to recommend this to you. Personally I love using WiFi for almost everything around my home, but I was never going to ditch my ethernet ports. I have a number of hard-wired devices, like a Sonos and Hue controllers, that requires the cable, so adding Eero to my existing setup actually works really great for me.
If you have a fairly big house and struggle to get WiFi to all corners of it, then you should definitely consider buying Eero. I think those who are trying to stretch WiFi from their house to a shed in their backyard could also really have big wins with this product.
For more information, head to Amazon.
- Simple setup
- Bit expensive