Hello, and happy post-Labor Day to you. We’re here with another edition of the IvanExpert newsletter. Not too surprisingly, with everyone spending so much time at home, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about Wi-Fi, and whether it can be made to perform better. It usually can.
First off, where does Wi-Fi come from? It comes from a small transmitter in your home called an Access Point. An access point is typically part of the router given to you by your internet service provider, which, in NYC, is usually Spectrum or Verizon. (The router itself can be a separate box from your modem, or it can be built into the same box as the modem.)
Sometimes, you may instead have an access point that you’ve purchased yourself, often an Apple AirPort or Time Capsule. Neither are made any more, but they’ll work fine if you have one of the “square column” models (the flat-shaped models are old technology and will slow you down).
Most Wi-Fi problems result from the limited range of any access point — you’re usually just too far from it. Until a few years ago, adding additional access points, for broader coverage, has been a painful process. If your home did not have Ethernet cabling connecting the rooms (and most don’t) you could either use the TV cable or the wall power to connect the rooms, or you needed wireless repeaters, which can perform poorly. All of these were difficult to configure.
“Mesh” wireless, which started coming to market a few years ago (after being pioneered a decade prior by Sonos for their own products), makes setting up wireless repeating very easy, and reduces a lot of the performance problems. There are many of these products on the market, from established network hardware vendors like Linksys and Netgear, as well as new products like Google Nest Wi-Fi, Plume, and Eero.
All of these products are good, and have their pros and cons. Of these, Eero is not the cheapest, but we think it is the best. It’s now owned by Amazon, and I didn’t look at the license agreement to see how they’re harvesting my data, and I don’t want to. I just want my Wi-Fi to work. Eero just works. Their app makes setting up the system just about as simple as it could possibly be, and several of our clients have been able to set it up with minimal or no assistance from us.
Eeros come in different flavors. The one we almost always recommend is the Eero Pro 3-pack. Eero Pro units — as opposed to plain Eero, or Eero Beacon — have an extra antenna for each unit to talk to each other with. Accordingly, they’re more expensive, but the extra antenna means they provide faster WiFi. If you’d rather save money at the expense of potential speed loss, then we’d suggest either the “Eero mesh 3-pack” or the “1 Pro + 1 Beacon” kits. The Eero Pro and regular Eero are desk-sitting models, while the Beacon plugs flush into the wall. The regular Eero and Beacon are similar in capability (that is, they lack the extra antenna the Pro has).
The Eero app is also pretty cool — it allows you to see, and even control access to, all of the devices currently connected to your network. Paid add-ons provide extra security and family restriction options.
Each Eero needs to be plugged into a power outlet, so that may restrict where you can place them, though it is sometimes possible to power them from only a network cable; ask us if you have questions about this.
Mesh Wi-Fi is an easy way to improve the coverage in your home. If you have any questions about Eero or any other mesh (or non-mesh) Wi-Fi system, give us a call!