With the advent of smart homes, which are equipped with a variety of connected devices, the router is getting some attention.
Routers used to be that neglected piece of plastic, which we ignore unless they have extended range to include the entire house or unless there are dead spots where you cannot get a Wi-Fi signal and get on the Internet.
Over the past few months, we have seen the launch of several routers with a sleek design and that are very user-friendly. You do not have to be a geek or a nerd to understand how a router works and how to ensure that every nook and cranny in your home has Wi-Fi coverage.
Two of these good routers are Eero and Google OnHub.
Eero is a square white box that measures 4.75 inches on all sides and is 1.34 inches high. It has a white plastic material similar to iOS products and a LED indicator light up front.The box includes an Ethernet cable, power cords, and the Eero box.
Eero makes it easy to extend your Wi-Fi’s range. All you need is to add an Eero and then hit a button on the mobile app. If you have a room far away from your router, then you could add another Eero to extend your Wi-Fi connection to that room.
You can extend the range of your router easily just by adding more Euros into the mix. This is where traditional range extenders fail, as they can only extend the range for one hop. Eeros can handle multiple hops.
Not only that, but traditional Wi-Fi range extenders also deliver slower speeds. Because there are range extenders that create a separate network, you would need to switch from one network to another when you move around the house.
Eero gives you more access points distributed throughout your house, enabling you to get Wi-Fi connection anywhere you want without having to hardwire your home for Ethernet wires and network expertise.
Set up is very easy. You just need to unpack the box and download the free mobile app available on both iOS and Android. This mobile app will provide you with easy-to-follow instructions.
Then you just plug the Eero into a power outlet and use the Ethernet cable to connect it to your modem. The indicator light will come on and turn to blue.
If you have a bigger home, you can add more Eeros to extend your Wi-Fi range. Everything is done in minutes and works as it should.
When setting up, it is recommended to keep your Eeros within 40 feet of one another, and only place them further apart when all of the devices are connected to the network.
If you already have Ethernet wiring in place, it is also a good idea to hardwire your Eero to get faster speeds. Wireless connections are usually slower than wired ones.
The Eero mobile app is very simple. Its home screen shows you both your network’s upload and download speeds, the number of devices that are currently connected to the network, and their assigned IP addresses. It is a pretty simple mobile app that does not provide network customizations.
What’s great about Eero?
- eero is the world’s best-reviewed Whole Home WiFi System that replaces your wireless router and any range extenders. No more dead zones. Now with Alexa Skills.
- An individual eero is great if you have a space that's less than 1,000 sq. ft., or as an add-on to an existing eero system.
- eero stays new and gets better with regular software updates. With TrueMesh technology, eero is the most advanced WiFi system on the market.
- Gigabit WiFi speed capability, and advanced settings let you configure DHCP, NAT, VPN passthrough, DNS, UPnP, Port Forwarding, Static IP, and parental controls.
- Required for setup: Internet service, modem, supported Apple iOS device or Android smartphone with data connection. iOS requirements: Device running iOS 8.0 or later, Android requirements: Device running Android 4.3 or later (tablets included).
The Eero is a good-looking piece of hardware that is properly sized to be placed just about anywhere. Setup is very simple that even non-technical people are able to set an Eero up within just minutes.
This means that you do not get frustrated with the whole process of bringing Wi-Fi connectivity everywhere around your home. That level of simplicity carries over to the mobile app:
Eero has left out the non-essential feature to make sure that the mobile app stays simple and easy to use.
What could be better?
As of this writing, Eero is available only in the United States and the mobile app needs a US-based number to work. Interested users outside the country will have to wait until Eero is available in their locations.
Eeros are also prone to interference so you would need to keep them away from metal objects such as your refrigerator, microwave ovens, cordless phones, power lines, and other appliances and household items that may cause interference, even including fluorescent lights.
Further, Eero recommends that you use the included power adapter as it is tested to deliver the right levels of power to the device. Using other adapters may result in damaging your Eero or causing it to work unreliably.
As for the mobile app, it lets you know the status of the network, the number of devices connected, and the speed of your network.
However, it would be a good idea to include network customizations, such as allowing users to prioritize certain devices and certain areas so as to allow them better Internet speed.
For instance, it would be great to have the ability to turn off Internet connectivity in the foyer after 10:00 pm or shut down the Internet connection in your kid’s bedroom when they are grounded. It would also be nice to be able to prioritize the connectivity for work-related devices.
Lastly, Eero can prove to be expensive when you have a bigger home. The good news, though, is that while an Eero costs a bit high (For the latest prices and discounts, check here), you can get a pack of three for a discounted price (For the latest prices and discounts, check here), thus saving you some money.
Final words on the Eero
Eero can get rid of the Internet connectivity dead spots around the home and give you a seamless Wi-Fi network. This is one device that is well-designed and very simple to use. Scaling up is very simple as well.
The Eero works in replacing your Wi-Fi range extender and makes sure that your entire house has Internet access. It delivers pretty much fast Internet speeds even with every hop, and this speed is more consistent than when using the old extenders.
Google OnHub promises to deliver fast Wi-Fi connectivity to all your devices.
However, unlike the Eero, which connects to your current router, Google OnHub replaces your router and has multiple antennas to bring Wi-Fi signals to places around the house that your old router was not able to reach.
Google recommends that you put OnHub out in the open for it to work properly, and this is the reason why the company has given it a sleek look. You can select from three shells to make it stand out: there’s natural bamboo, black and silver, and white and gold.
There are two OnHub models available. There’s the Asus OnHub, which has wave control and subtle lighting at the base using one LED bulb that has three colors, and there’s the TP-LINK OnHub, which has a front-facing antenna and has LED lighting with six different colors.
On the Asus version, you can increase Wi-Fi speed going to a particular device by passing your hand over the OnHub device because of the proximity sensor it has.
- The Google Wifi app guides you through setup, shows you which devices are connected to your network, and offers help if there's a Wi-Fi slow-down
- Searches every five minutes for the least crowded Wi-Fi channel and will switch if it improves your performance
- 13 high-powered antennas arranged in an innovative circular design provide reliable Wi-Fi coverage in more directions in your home
- Prioritizes your favorite device to send more bandwidth where it matters most
- Updates itself with the latest features and security upgrades as soon as they’re available
Both the Asus and the TP-Link OnHub models have:
- Congestion sensing radio
- Dual-core CPU
- 4 gigabyte e-MMC flash
- 1 gigabyte memory
- Speaker that sounds when you successfully set up the OnHub
- WAN, LAN and USB 3.0 ports
- 8 MB NOR Flash
- Infineon SLB 9615 module
- AC1900 connectivity
- QCA 8337 Gigabit Ethernet switch
- 11a/b/g/n/ac compatibility
- Is ready for Bluetooth Smart, 802.15.4, and Weave
Other details for both OnHub versions are listed in this table:
|7.94in x 5.03in x 5.20in
|7.5in x 4.1in x 4.6in
|Blue or Black
|Subtle lighting on the base (single tri-color LED)
|Ambient light ring on top (six tri-color LEDs)
|TPM (trusted boot)
|iOS & Android App
OnHub has 13 antennas that are placed in a circular pattern to help extend Wi-Fi coverage in all directions. Most Wi-Fi routers only have two antennas.
OnHub uses both 5GHz and 2.4GHz. It can automatically switch between these two bands depending on which one is faster, thus giving you a faster connection and better network performance. This is a great feature as most devices may not be able to switch automatically.
Mobile app and set up
The Google On app is smartly designed, keeping the experience simple and easy. You can use it to set up and manage your OnHub using Android and iOS devices.
Google On guides you through the different steps of setting up your OnHub, promising that you would be online in just minutes. You can also use the mobile app to dim or brighten the lighting array on the device.
It also helps you prioritize certain devices connected to your network. You can ensure that your work computer gets more bandwidth allocation so you could work faster and better.
Additionally, you can see who is connected to your network and troubleshoot your network. You can also see how much bandwidth each device is using.
What’s more, OnHub provides remote access so that you can control and manage your network even when you are out of the house. More than this, the app can help you identify any problems in your network and suggest solutions on how to correct it.
Google On also allows you to have a guest network so that visitors to your home can have Wi-Fi access.
Lastly, the app automatically tests your network’s speed. You can know the Internet speed you are getting from your ISP and the connection speed of each device coming from the OnHub.
If you experience slow Internet connections, you can check to app to see if it is because of your ISP or any of the devices connected to your network.
OnHub may be synced with Philips Hue. You can your smart lights using your mobile device without the need to download an app. This feature uses a Web browser, and all you need to do is to type On. Here on the address bar to adjust the brightness of your Hue.
OnHub also supports IFTTT, which allows you to create recipes to help you manage and control the connected devices around the home, some even simultaneously.
Google promises, even more, integrations in the future as the OnHub is equipped with 802.15.4 support, which enables it to connect with smart home products. It also has Bluetooth Smart and is Weave-ready. Weave allows you to use your mobile phone to set up other devices.
What you would like about OnHub
The setup is very simple and fast. With the help of the mobile app, you do not have to figure out anything!
Also, Google OnHub allows you to use emojis to name your network. It is not exactly a significant feature, but it is nice to have especially for those people who are tired of using text-only network names.
Another delightful benefit is that you are able to spruce up your OnHub the way you want it. Google even has an online community called the OnHub Makers — https://onhubmakers.withgoogle.com/ — where you can get inspiration on how to make your OnHub blend with your existing home decors.
All things told, Google OnHub is very well-designed and gives you reliable Wi-Fi connectivity. It is also effortless to set up. It is also updated by Google, so software updates are to be expected with new features being introduced now and then.
What could be better
Google has packed its OnHub with technology that makes it future-proof. The only problem is that it currently has no functionality, except for the integration with Philips Hue.
This may help justify the MSRP (For the latest prices and discounts, check here), but for now, these are just a bunch of useless features that you cannot do anything with. You also have a USB port that apparently does nothing and a speaker that only plays a sound when you have successfully set your OnHub up.
Bottom line, however, this is one expensive router. You can probably get a cheaper router that delivers faster speeds and have a longer range than the OnHub. For instance, The Asus RT-AC68U Dual-band Wireless-AC1900 Gigabit goes for around good price (For the latest prices and discounts, check here), and this is considered an expensive router when it first came out in 2014.
The device also needs to be registered to a Google account and will not work unless it is connected to Google. It comes with a LAN port, which means that you can only have one wired device connected to it, unlike older routers that have around four to six.
Prioritizing certain devices is one extra feature that you cannot find on the Eero. However, you can only prioritize one device, and that can only last for four hours at most.
The last word on Google OnHub
At close range, the OnHub can deliver real fast speeds that are closer to your ISP-provided Internet speed. The ability to automatically switch from one band to another allows it to give you faster speeds. For one, the 5GHz band can deliver higher data rates, but it has a much shorter range than the 2.4 GHz.
Google OnHub is really just trying to save you from the problems you experience with your current routers, including a painful setup and headache-inducing troubleshooting. It helps that the new Wi-Fi router is very nice to look at as well.
What to buy
The two may act differently, with Eero acting like a Wi-Fi range extender and the Google OnHub behaving more like a Wi-Fi router, but both aim to deliver fast Internet speeds to your devices.
This is true even with several devices simultaneously connected to the network. However, if you have a small home, you might want to go for the Google OnHub for its ability to switch from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz bands, allowing you to benefit from the faster 5 GHz band at shorter range.
On the other hand, if dead spots are a problem for you or if you have a bigger home, then go with the Eero.
Nevertheless, OnHub and Eero allow you to kiss the days of frustrating Wi-Fi router setups goodbye.