Eero (2nd-gen) review: better looks and even better performance

A little over a year ago, a startup that no one had ever heard of kicked off a revolution in home networking. Eero introduced the concept of mesh networking to the average consumer and proved that your home Wi-Fi doesn’t have to suck. Since then, Eero’s been joined by many companies in the home mesh networking space, from other startups (Plume, Luma), to incumbents (Linksys, Netgear), to even companies as big as Google and Samsung.

All of these mesh routers basically aim to do the same thing: blanket your home with a strong wireless signal so that all of your devices can always connect to the network without dropping off or losing the signal. They do this by using multiple units, or nodes, that wirelessly connect to each other. They also provide simple setup via smartphone apps and the ability to monitor your network from outside your home.

I’ve been testing the newest version of Eero’s mesh router system for the past couple of weeks in my own multistory home, and much like the first Eero, it does an excellent job at covering my house with a strong wireless signal and allowing me to get the most out of my high-speed internet service. But I’m not convinced that it is a must-have upgrade for existing Eero owners or that it’s the best mesh router you can buy. It really depends on your needs and the layout of your home. Also: your budget.

Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

The new Eero comes in a variety of different configurations. I’ve been using the $399 Home WiFi System, which the company expects to be its most popular option. It consists of a single Eero unit and two of the new Eero Beacons, which are smaller and slightly less powerful. Eero says this setup is designed to cover a two- to four-bedroom home; if you have a smaller one- to two-bedroom home, there is a $299 option that has one Eero and one Beacon. For larger homes, there is the $499 Pro WiFi system that comes with of three full-size Eero units. The company says the Pro package is enough to cover a three- to five-bedroom house, but if you have a particularly large McMansion, you can add more units as necessary to cover it.

In addition to the new hardware options, Eero is also introducing a subscription service called Eero Pro that provides enhanced parental controls and protection against malware that costs $9.99 per month, or $99 per year.

Compared to the other mesh networking options on the market, Eero’s pricing skews toward the high end. You can get a three-unit Google Wifi system for $299, while others, such as Luma and Orbi, fall between the $300 and $400 range. Many other mesh routers offer the same parental controls and malware protection at no extra charge as well.

The new Eero looks virtually identical to the first one: it’s a small, white squircle with two Ethernet ports and a power jack (now USB Type-C instead of the prior barrel connector). The unused USB port from the first generation has been jettisoned, but the small white LED on the front of the device remains. Though it looks the same, Eero says it’s twice as powerful as before. Inside, it’s been upgraded with a third radio in the 5GHz band, which Eero claims makes it twice as powerful as before. Eero is not the first with a tri-radio setup in its mesh system (Netgear’s Orbi and the Linksys Velop both have it), but it is the smallest one with such a configuration.

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