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Wireless Reviews

Home Wi-Fi System
At a glance
Producteero A010001 Home Wi-Fi System   [Website]
SummaryWi-Fi "system" using multiple units connected via Wi-Fi mesh.
Pros• Easy setup
Cons• Limited routing feature set

Typical Price: $172  Shop Amazon

Introduction

Updated 8/9/16 Corrected radio SoC part numbers
Updated 8/2/16: Link to wireless retest added

Many of you have probably already read everyone else's coverage of eero's mesh Wi-Fi system by now. Some of the reviews contained gushing reports of miraculous cures of formerly troublesome Wi-Fi installations. Most others were at least complementary.

I decided to take my time with eero, given its first-in-category status. Ms. SmallNetBuilder and I used it for a few weeks, replacing our standard setup of main router and one Ethernet-connected access point. I then put it through our standard wireless router test suite (or at least tried to) and even ran special multi-client and multi-hop tests.

In the end, I can see how eero might have produced better results than some router / extender setups it temporarily replaced in other reviewers' testing. But eero is no miracle cure for all Wi-Fi woes by any stretch. But I get ahead of myself.

eero is an unassuming square glossy white box, with a 4.75" x 4.75" footprint and standing about an inch high. It's designed to sit on a table or shelf, so has no wall or ceiling mounting slots. There is only one LED on the front that glows white when it is set up and all is well, red when something's wrong and flashes blue during setup.

eero

eero

The rear panel has a reset pinhole, power port, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB 2.0 port that serves no purpose right now. The Ethernet ports are not designated WAN or LAN; eero automatically figures out what to do with each one depending on whether it is in router or bridge (AP) mode.

eero currently costs $199 for one or $499 for a three-pack. The three-pack comes with three power supplies, but only one Ethernet cable.

Inside

eero's FCC inside photos are under temporary non-disclosure for an indeterminate time. So after testing was complete, I opened up one of my three eeros. The photo below has all RF can tops and heatsinks removed and is annotated because eero has a few tricks under its little white plastic hood.

As an early CNET article stated, eero is a Qualcomm / QCA based design. Inspection of its innards reveals it's a 2x2 AC1200 class router with a twist. Instead of dedicated 2.4 and 5 GHz radios, one radio serves up both 2.4 and 5 GHz high band (Ch 149 - 163). The other is dedicated to 5 GHz low band (Ch 36 - 48).

You can see four straight-wire 5 GHz omni dipole antennas in the annotated photo below; two for each radio. Two bent-metal antennas serve the 2.4 GHz radio; the third is connected to the Atheros AR3012 Bluetooth 4.0 radio.

eero uses a Qualcomm dual-core IPQ8062 processor @ 1 GHz. This puts it more on a footing with current Qualcomm-based AC2600 class routers using 1.4 GHz IPQ8064 processors than other AC1200 class routers. Both Qualcomm SoCs have two Krait 300 ARMv7-A compatible cores.

eero board

eero board

eero's other components are collected into Table 1, along with two conventionally designed AC1200 class routers for comparison.

Updated 8/9/16: Radio Soc part number corrected
  eero Amped Wireless RTA1200 Linksys WRT1200AC
CPU Qualcomm dual-core IPQ8062 @ 1 GHz Qualcomm Atheros QCA9557 2X2 abgn WLAN SoC Marvell Armada 38X dual-core @ 1.33 GHz (88F6820-A0 C133)
Switch Qualcomm Atheros QCA8337 Qualcomm Atheros QCA8337 Marvell 88E6176
RAM 512 MB 128 MB 512 MB
Flash 4 GB / 8 MB 16 MB 128 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - QCA9882 2x2 MU-MIMO 802.11abgnac radio
- RFMD RFFM4204 2.4 GHz Front End (x2)
In QCA9557
- Skyworks SKY65900 2.4 GHz power amp (x2)
- Skyworks SKY15971 2.4 GHz LNA (x2)
Marvell 88W8864
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz Power Amp (x2)
5 GHz radio - QCA9882 2x2 MU-MIMO 802.11abgnac radio
- RFMD RFPA5522 5 GHz power amp (x4)
- QCA9882 2x2 802.11ac radio
- Skyworks SE5023L 5 GHz power amp (x2)
- Skyworks SKY85601 5 GHz LNA + switch (x2)
Marvell 88W8864
- Skyworks SKY85601 4.9 - 5.9 GHz SPDT Switch with LNA (x2)
- RFMD RFPA5522 4.9 GHz to 5.925GHz WiFi Integrated PA module (x2)
Table 1: Component summary and comparison

The gallery below has more shots of eero's insides, with additional commentary.

Setup

Like Google's OnHub, eero is designed for people who don't want to know nuthin' about routers. So its feature set is, by design, as limited as possible to get eero connected to your ISP and your wireless (and wired) devices connected to the internet.

I'm not going to walk through setting up eero. The eero video below is a bit cutesy, but describes the process pretty well. You can also read eero's setup FAQ if you want more detail and less cute. You will need an Android (4.4 and higher) smarthphone or iPhone (iOS 8 and higher) with an internet connection that also supports Bluetooth 4.0.

Although eero's app will want to authenticate your account setup via text to your smartphone, you can change the number to one you know is untextable and eero will fall back and email the code to you. Note your account doesn't have a password. You login using your mobile phone number or email and authenticate with a texted or emailed code.

Once your account is set up, installing an eero AP should go smoothly if your service provider doesn't require any authentication and just lets your modem grab its IP address information via DHCP. This eero FAQ has more information about services that will or won't work. The short story is, if your provider uses PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP or IPv6 only, you'll have to use eero in bridge (access point) mode.

I initially let eero be my router, but quickly realized I depend on a lot of static IPs in my network. At the time of setup, eero's Android app did not support IP address reservations and I hadn't checked out the iOS app, which did. (eero has since updated the Android app so it also supports IP address reservations, which are required to forward ports.) So I switched eero to bridge mode and let my router go back to doing routing, but shut off its wireless so eero could handle Wi-Fi.

More Wireless

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