eero 6 Review
Originally published at https://www.amazingdevicesandtools.com
Mesh routers are a relatively new breed of routers; you can think of it as a central router supplemented by a number of extender nodes. However, unlike traditional router/extender setups that typically create separate networks and repeat the Wi-Fi traffic over them, mesh routers create one seamless wireless network throughout your home and intelligently route traffic to devices via the node with the best signal.
Recently, eero — a company Amazon picked up for their mesh routers — came out with a new line of Wi-Fi 6 capable routers. The technical name of the Wi-Fi 6 standard is 802.11ax and it’s the successor of the 802.11ac standard. This review is on the non-pro version, which is dual-band and advertised as capable of providing up to 500Mbps connection speeds (the pro version on the other hand is tri-band and boasts gigabit speeds). The package I got came with an extender node, which adds up to 1500 square feet of additional coverage to the base router.
Technical specs aside, the setup of the router was a breeze. As with all smart devices these days, setup is done via a mobile app with step-by-step instructions to guide you: you start by unplugging your existing modem from power, then connect the eero main gateway node to it with the included ethernet cable (there are 2 ethernet ports on the gateway and it doesn’t matter which one you use). Lastly, you plug both modem and gateway back to power and let the app do its thing to pair with your unit.
The only hiccup I encountered during the setup was my cable modem took too long to start back up, but in that case the app told me exactly what to do, which is to wait until the modem lights become stable before pressing retry in the app.
After pairing, you go through a few more screens with usual things like setting the network name and password, and then within minutes the wireless network was up and running again — of course, you will have to setup the extender node(s) as well, but that’s an even simpler process since you just have to plug it in and go through the same pairing again on the app.
The app itself is also home to a number of nice features that’s expected of a “smart” router. As someone who’s somewhat of a neat freak, I love being able to assign a type to everything that’s connected to the router — and the types available cover a vast number of things that can be smart these days, from vacuums to doorbells to garage openers and even pet devices.
Other things you can do in the app include pausing the Wi-Fi connection for individual devices or grouping them into profiles which can be paused/resumed according to a schedule — a feature that any parent trying to limit their children’s screen time will appreciate. Pausing and resuming a connection can also be controlled by voice using Alexa and programmed into routines, which should come as no surprise.
For even more control, there is eero secure and secure+ subscription services which add activity monitoring, content filtering and blocking, and access to partner services such as 1Password or Encryt.me VPN among other things. Granted some of these capabilities can be done on the modem itself — albeit through a more clunky interface rather than seamlessly in the eero app — so how much you find a secure/secure+ subscription necessary may vary.
Coverage and Performance
On coverage, I can say that in an area of the home where I had a weak connection before — and that’s already with an extender nearby — I get good coverage now. And gone are the days when I would walk to an area where I should be getting good signal from the router, but my connection is lousy because I’m still connected to the extender network. Now, it’s one network and the router will steer your traffic via the most appropriate node or band based on your location.
Speaking of band-steering, some reviews have noted the eero 6 underperforms and experiences speed drops due to poor band-steering. I haven’t used the router for long enough to comment here, but for my level of usage I think it is unlikely to be a big issue (for me, coverage was more important). I suspect that will be true for most average consumers; unless you are a power user that does a lot of gaming or likes to stream things while on the move, the eero 6 is probably sufficient. The router is able to get regular updates so hopefully the band-steering will improve with better algorithms in the future. If performance is really important to you now, the pro version will be a better pick.
Other Things to Note
As previously noted, there are only 2 ethernet ports on the router, and one of them is already used for connecting to the modem. This means that there’s only 1 free port for connecting a device by wire. Therefore, if you need to connect to more devices by wire, you’ll need to plug them into the modem — but they won’t been seen by the eero — or get a network switch.
Lastly, the eero 6 router also functions as a Zigbee hub for your smart home devices using that protocol, though at the time of writing this review I did not have any Zigbee devices to test that out.