If you have kids, then you might know a thing or two about how difficult it can be to yank them away from their computers and other devices so they get their chores done on time or just spend quality time with the family. Eero, the robust whole-house Wi-Fi system, has a feature that makes this easy.
RELATED:How to Set Up the Eero Home Wi-Fi System
With the Family Profiles feature, you can set time limits on each user and block them from internet access starting at 8pm, for instance, and then reinstate it later that night. Normally, this isn’t something you can without accessing your router’s settings and navigating through some confusing menus, but Eero makes it really simple through its mobile app.
The first thing you’ll want to do is open the Eero app on your phone and tap on the menu button in the top-left corner of the screen.
From there, select “Family Profiles”.
Tap on “Add a profile” at the bottom.
Give the profile a name (like “Zack” for your son Zack, or something), and then hit “Next” in the top-right corner.
After that, select the devices that belong to Zack. You can choose more than one device, as he could have a laptop, smartphone, and tablet. Once you have the devices selected, hit “Save” in the top-right corner.
From there, you can hit the pause button toward the upper-right corner to manually suspend internet access to these devices, and then tap on it again to re-enable internet access.
However, if you want to set up a schedule to pause and resume internet access automatically, tap on “Set a scheduled pause”.
On the next screen, tap on “Add a schedule”.
Under “Schedule name”, give it a custom name if you’d like.
Below that, you can set the start an end times for restricting internet access, so if you set the start time for 10pm and the end time for 7am, this means the devices won’t have internet access from 10pm until 7am. Tap on each one to set the time.
Under “Frequency”, you can set which days you want the schedule activated on and simply tapping on a day will enable or disable it—highlighted in blue means that it’s an active day.
Lastly, don’t forget to tap on the toggle switch next to “Enable” at the top.
Hit “Save” in the top-right corner to save and activate the schedule.
The schedule will show up in the list of schedules for this user, and you can add more schedules if you want different times of the day to be restricted as well.
Hitting the back button will take you back to the user’s profile page, where it will now tell you when the next time this user will see restricted access to the internet.
Hitting the back button again will take you to the main Family Profiles page, where you can hit the plus button in the top-right corner to add more profiles to your network if you want.
You can do this on pretty much any network with a router, since most routers have some kind of parental controls in the settings. However, as mentioned above, navigating through router settings can be intimidating for those who don’t know a whole lot about technology and networking, but Eero makes it super simple.
Eero Pro 6 review: less pro than expected
Eero was the company that first popularized mesh networking for the home, fixing Wi-Fi for millions. It has built a reputation for its simple setup and minimal maintenance, reliably broadcasting a Wi-Fi connection throughout your home much better than a traditional standalone router could. Now that it is owned by Amazon, it promises to repeat that trick for customers who have access to gigabit internet speeds with its top-tier Eero Pro 6.
Fixing most home Wi-Fi problems doesn’t have to cost a lot. A basic mesh system can provide reliable Wi-Fi coverage in most homes without costing more than $250. If the speeds you’re getting from your ISP are 300Mbps or less, there’s no real need to buy anything more.
But if you do have the privilege of access to faster home internet, such as what gigabit fiber can offer, you might want something more. That’s where high-end Wi-Fi 6-enabled mesh systems like the Eero Pro 6 come in. They can spread your fast connection throughout your home without having to deal with pesky wiring and let you take full advantage of the bandwidth you’re forking money over for each month.
Earlier this year, I looked at one of the first Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers to see if it could give me better speeds on my gigabit Fios service than earlier Wi-Fi 5-based systems could. And it did: the Arris Surfboard Max Pro was able to deliver more of the bandwidth I pay for to my devices, even if I wasn’t in the same room as the router. But each Arris node is a massive unit, the app to manage the router is clumsy at best, I ran into some frustrating reliability issues, and it cost $650 at the time of my review.
The $599 Eero Pro 6 I’ve been testing, on the other hand, is compact, reliable, and just as easy to set up as Eero’s lower-tier models. But unfortunately, it doesn’t bring the performance that justifies its price tag.
Our review of Eero Pro 6
Verge Score6.5 out of 10
- Compact size
- Easy setup
- Great coverage
- Solid stability
- It’s expensive
- Parental controls are locked behind a paid subscription
- Speeds are only slightly faster than Wi-Fi 5 systems
- Few advanced features and limited control options
- Just two Ethernet ports on each node
Buy for $599.00 from AmazonBuy for $599.00 from Best Buy
Eero Pro 6 pricing
The Eero Pro 6 system that I tested is the top-tier package, which includes three nodes and sells for $599 (though it’s been marked down to as low as $480 during the holiday shopping season). Eero also sells single units for $229 each or a two-pack for $399.
These pricing details are important because, frankly, every tri-band Wi-Fi 6 mesh system is expensive, and Eero is no exception. Compared to Eero’s prior-generation Pro model, the Eero Pro 6 is 20 percent more costly. It is also a lot more expensive than Eero’s non-“Pro” lineup, which starts at just $249 for a Wi-Fi 5-based system with three nodes (and can frequently be found for a lot less). Eero’s entry-level Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems are similarly approachable at $279 for a three-pack.
How many nodes you require depends on the size and layout of your home. Eero claims each unit covers up to 2,000 square feet, but that’s in a perfect scenario, which your home most certainly is not. My test environment is a 2,100-square-foot split-level home built in the 1960s, with the internet connection coming in on the middle floor. I placed the other two nodes on the lower and upper floors, where my home office and the bedrooms are. The Eero Pro 6 system allows for hard-wiring each node together, which you can’t do with the base Eero 6, but my home is not wired up to support this, so I have to rely on wireless connections.
Eero is not alone in charging a premium for a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 based system targeted at those with gigabit internet service. As mentioned, the Arris system I tested earlier this year is $650, while Netgear, Linksys, and others all have options in the $500 to $700 range and sometimes even more.
If you’re going to pay more for faster speeds, you damn well better get them. You should be able to get the majority of your gigabit bandwidth throughout your home. After all, that’s the whole point of a mesh system. And if you’re thinking of upgrading from a Wi-Fi 5 mesh system, you should see a measurable increase in speeds to your devices. Basically, any mesh system on the market can blanket thousands of square feet with a strong wireless signal and support dozens of simultaneously connected devices. What you’re paying for here is the speed.
Eero Pro 6 performance
Unfortunately, speed is where the Eero Pro 6 disappoints the most.
I tested the Eero Pro 6 using gigabit Verizon Fios service and compared its performance to the Wi-Fi 5 Eero Pro, Linksys’ Velop MX4200, and the Arris Surfboard Max Pro AX11000 I reviewed previously. As this is a live home network (aka not a lab) and I have a lot of connected devices, there are anywhere from 60 to 70 devices on the network at the same time, of which half a dozen or so actually support Wi-Fi 6.
The Eero Pro 6 did perform slightly better than the Wi-Fi 5 version, but not significantly so. On average, speeds to my devices were about 10 to 15 percent better than the Wi-Fi 5 Eero Pro, averaging 300Mbps no matter how close to the router I was. Frustratingly, many times, my smaller Wi-Fi 6 devices, such as phones and tablets, couldn’t hit more than 200Mbps down, though they were able to double that speed on uploads.
A note on Wi-Fi 6 itself: Wi-Fi 6 brings a long list of advancements to wireless networking, including support for many more connected devices on a single network, faster theoretical top speeds, and improved battery life on devices connected to a Wi-Fi 6 network. To take advantage of many of the features, such as the improved battery life and faster top speeds, you need to be using a Wi-Fi 6 device, such as a very recent smartphone or laptop.
Wi-Fi 6 is specifically designed to address the changing dynamics of home networks where more and more devices are connected at the same time. But to get that improved network management and reliability, every device that’s connected needs to be Wi-Fi 6. (Wi-Fi 6 is backwards compatible with the older Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5 technologies, so everything you currently have will connect to it just fine.) That isn’t to say using a Wi-Fi 5 device on a Wi-Fi 6 network will ruin the experience, but you won’t get the full benefit of everything Wi-Fi 6 has to offer until all of your devices are updated to support it. For more detail on what Wi-Fi 6 brings to the table, go read my colleague Jake Kastrenakes’ breakdown of it here.
What Wi-Fi 6 offers right now is the ability for the nodes of a mesh network to send data to the main router faster than what was available over Wi-Fi 5. Those speeds can then be sent directly to your smartphone, laptop, or gaming console that’s connected to a nearby mesh node, even if those devices aren’t using Wi-Fi 6 themselves. You can get even faster speeds if you connect your computer or console to the mesh node with an Ethernet cable, even if you are a few rooms away from where the internet connection comes into your home, an ideal benefit if your home isn’t wired up for networking, such as mine.
With a desktop computer hardwired into one of the secondary Pro 6 nodes (which then uses a Wi-Fi connection to link to the main router a floor above), I was able to get download speeds above 400Mbps and sometimes up to 500Mbps, or about half of my available bandwidth. That’s a good 100 to 200Mbps faster than I typically saw from the Eero Pro 5 system, but still makes a lot of my bandwidth inaccessible. Again, upload speeds were much stronger, but when you’re downloading a massive AAA game and just want to get playing, fast upload speeds are a small consolation.
The Linksys Velop MX4200, which has similar specs to the Eero Pro, performed almost identically, with speeds capping out at just over 300Mbps and most smaller devices not pulling more than 200Mbps down. That’s not enough of a difference for me to recommend spending $500 or $600 to upgrade from a Wi-Fi 5-based mesh system if you already have one.
The Arris’ more complex antenna array did provide a significant speed bump over Wi-Fi 5 systems and both the Eero Pro 6 and Linksys units. My mobile devices were consistently able to achieve connection speeds over 400Mbps, while hardwiring into the remote node allowed me to see near gigabit downloads.
Though the Eero disappointed me on actual speeds, it proved very reliable, with great stability throughout my weeks of testing. It hops devices from one node to another well as I move around the house, and it’s able to handle the load of remote working and schooling that often includes multiple concurrent video calls without dropping connections or choking. 4K video streams are possible anywhere in my home, and I never had to worry about what my kids were doing on the network if I needed to make a critical video call or upload a large file for work. It bested the Arris in this respect, which often needed to be rebooted to get its mesh node to reconnect to the main router and had trouble roaming devices from one node to the other as I moved through the house.
But I was able to get that same kind of reliability with the older Wi-Fi 5 system and the same internet service, so you don’t need to buy an Eero Pro 6 setup to experience it.
My test results are far from scientific. I’m testing in a single home with a single service and using internet connection speeds averaged across a variety of speed test services as a metric, which network administrators would turn their nose up at. But while some folks might be more concerned with how fast they can shuffle files around their home network, the vast majority of people just want to have a fast connection to the internet no matter where they are in their home. It’s why you’re paying for a gigabit internet connection to begin with. Dong Ngo’s testing over at DongKnows shows that in file transfer scenarios, the Eero Pro 6 sits about middle of the pack, despite its top-shelf pricing. Numerous user reports on Reddit also complain about modest to no internet speed increases over Wi-Fi 5-based systems.
During my test period, the Eero Pro 6 system received a handful of software updates (which are delivered automatically; there’s no way to force an update), including a recent update to version 6.1. Some users have reported noticeable speed increases with the 6.1 update, but after redoing a number of tests, the speeds on my network have remained consistent with earlier software versions, with the most noticeable improvement seen when I am hardwired into a mesh node.
Eero Pro 6 design
Something that the Eero Pro 6 has over all of its Wi-Fi 6 competition is aesthetics. The Eero Pro 6 node is so much smaller than any other tri-band system, which makes it easier to place in your home and doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb if you do have to keep it in a living area. It’s a little larger than the old Eero Pro and certainly not as discreet as the Eero Beacon, but it’s tiny compared to the high-end Wi-Fi 6 routers from Netgear, Linksys, and Arris.
Another feature that sets Eero apart from most of the other Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems is you can mix and match the new Wi-Fi 6 units with older Wi-Fi 5 nodes. If you already own an Eero system and don’t want to wholly replace every unit, buying one or two nodes and integrating them into your existing network could be an appealing option, though you will only get the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 when you’re connected to one of the new nodes, which you can’t always predict or rely on.
You give up some things, though. Just like the older Eero Pro, the Pro 6 has just two Ethernet ports on the back, one of which will be occupied by the cable coming from your modem. If you have any number of devices that you plan to hardwire into the router, you’ll definitely need to get a multiport switch. There is no way to hook up a storage drive directly to the Pro 6, either, as its lone USB-C port is used for its power adapter.
There’s just one LED light on the front of the Eero. It glows blue during setup, is a static white when everything is working as it should, and glows red when there isn’t an internet connection. For any more detail than that, you’ll have to go to the Eero app.
The Eero Pro 6 is rated as an AX4200 system, which is an obtuse way of describing what its peak networking speeds are. That rating puts it in the middle of the pack of tri-band Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems: it’s the same as Linksys’ $499 Velop MX4200 but lower than the AX6600 and AX11000 systems from Netgear and Arris.
As this is a tri-band system, the Eero Pro 6 supports three Wi-Fi bands: the standard 2.4GHz and 5GHz ones most Wi-Fi routers offer, plus another 5GHz band to allow the nodes to send data back and forth without competing with your device traffic. Unlike other systems, which separate device traffic and mesh node traffic between the two 5GHz bands, Eero’s system will just use whatever lane it determines is the most efficient, so it doesn’t have a “dedicated backhaul” band that others advertise. In theory, the two 5GHz bands should provide enough bandwidth for gigabit speeds to your devices, though one of them has half as many antennas as the other, which does have an impact on throughput. That’s why Eero’s AX4200 rating is lower than others, which offer more antennas.
In addition to its Wi-Fi radios, the Eero Pro 6 has Thread and Zigbee smart home radio support, so you can use it as a hub for smart home devices, which are then managed through the Alexa app.
Eero Pro 6 app and setup
Setting up the Eero Pro 6 is just as easy and straightforward as the company’s prior models. You download the app to your phone, plug in the first node, and follow the prompts. The app walks you through adding the additional nodes, creating your network and password, and turning on features such as a guest network or Eero’s subscription-based security and parental control features.
Unfortunately, the app is the only way to manage the network. Eero doesn’t offer any web interface at all, and using the app requires you to create an Eero account and have an active internet connection on your phone before you set up the network. This is becoming a popular trend among mesh systems — both Arris and Google’s systems work the same way — but Eero was arguably the first to popularize an app-only experience.
The Eero app is also surprisingly limited, especially for a high-end system that’s ostensibly designed for power users. It offers very few network management controls, lacks things like Dynamic DNS, and doesn’t let you separate out the 2.4GHz network from the 5GHz one for greater transparency. It displays a list of all of my connected devices, but it does a poor job of automatically identifying them, so I had to go in and manually figure out which one was which through its IP address before I could apply parental controls or other filters to it. (Eero is not alone in this issue, every other router management app I’ve used struggles with it as well.)
Most of these limitations are easy to ignore on entry-level mesh systems where the main thing that matters is reliable coverage. And Eero would likely argue that its algorithms are more effective at managing network load than the average person futzing with settings. Most people just want to turn the thing on and have it work. But on a $600 system that’s advertised for gigabit home internet service and has “Pro” in its name, the hands-off approach is frustrating and limits how much control over your own network you have. As it is, Eero offers the exact same app experience whether you pay $100 for an entry-level node or the full $600 for the top-tier system. It could do well to add more pro features to its “Pro” router.
The Eero Pro 6 does not support Apple HomeKit, even though Eero’s older models do. I asked Eero, and the company said it is working with Apple to get it certified for HomeKit, but there isn’t a specific release date for it. Another option not yet available on the Eero Pro 6 is the toggle for “optimizing for conference and gaming” in the Labs section of the app’s settings. This is the closest thing Eero offers to quality of service management and is designed to prioritize devices that are currently on video calls or playing games. The company says it is working on adding it to the Eero Pro 6 in future updates.
Like its other routers, Eero offers some subscription-based services on the Eero Pro 6. These include ad filtering, malware protection, content filters, and access to paid apps such as Encrypt.me and 1Password. The base Eero Secure plan costs $29.99 per year and includes everything but the paid apps; the Secure Plus plan runs $99 per year and adds those apps in.
I’m hesitant to recommend paying for either of these services, as competing routers offer content filtering and parental controls for free, both of which are table stakes features. The other problem is Eero is not transparent at all about what the threat blocks and security features are actually doing. It just shows you a report of blocks it made on specific devices but doesn’t say anything about what they were or what caused the threats. The ad filtering is also less effective than content blockers on your browser in my experience.
The only way the subscription makes sense is if you were planning to pay for 1Password and Encrypt.me anyway, as the bundle is less expensive than parting them out separately.
Thanks to rapid iteration over the past few years, mesh routers have reached levels of maturity and accessibility that were unthinkable just a short time ago. (Eero’s first model, which arguably broke the door open on mesh Wi-Fi routers, came out in 2016.) That means if a company is going to charge a significant price for a router and claim that it’s ideal for gigabit connections and “pro” uses (whatever that means), it has to really prove that worth with performance.
Unfortunately, based on my experience, the Eero Pro 6 doesn’t bring the performance I’d expect at this price tier. It’s slightly faster than the prior generation, but not nearly enough to make an upgrade worthwhile. And it’s not so much better or faster than the less expensive mesh router options currently available, even ones made by Eero itself. That’s not a huge surprise, as Eero’s older systems were never the fastest in the field, but I was hoping for a bigger jump in performance with the Pro 6 than I’ve seen so far, especially given the price increase.
Eero isn’t alone here. My tests showed Linksys Velop MX4200 doesn’t carry its weight either. And even with the routers that do provide faster speeds, you compromise things like aesthetics, reliability, and features (not to mention having to pay even more). The Arris router brought the performance increases I’m looking for, but it’s bigger, uglier, needs more maintenance, and costs more. Wi-Fi 6 routers are still a new thing, only coming to market in the past year, and it seems like they have a ways to go before they are demonstrably better than their Wi-Fi 5 predecessors in everyday use cases (aka outside of a controlled lab).
If you’re thinking of making an investment and can wait, my recommendation would be to do just that. Wi-Fi 6E, which is the next step in the Wi-Fi technology chain, is expected to arrive in the near future and bring more significant speed and capacity increases. None of today’s routers (or devices) support it yet. But if you are in need of a mesh router right now, you might want to look at options other than the Eero Pro 6.
Photography by Dan Seifert / The Verge
How to Set up Parental Controls on Your eero WiFi App
If you’ve already using an eero WiFi mesh network in your home, you probably remember how easy it was to set up and to get your entire family’s WiFi-capable devices online. But what do you do if you want the kids to get offline for a while? As it happens, it’s just as simple to limit your kids’ screen time at will or on a set schedule using eero’s convenient Family Profiles feature.
Time for dinner? One tap in your eero app brings your network to a standstill so you can enjoy an internet-free meal with your family. Time for the kids to focus on homework? Disable online gaming but leave laptops online for research purposes. The free eero app’s Family Profiles give you complete parental control over what devices can be online and when.
If you don’t have an eero WiFi mesh network yet and want to learn more about it, check out our HomeFi℠ blog to see how eero can blanket your whole home in strong, reliable WiFi.
Now, let’s see how easy it is to pause your internet with eero!
Max # of Wifi Clients per eero
For anyone looking for solutions to LIFX issues, I can confirm that using eero for wifi greatly solves issues.
I have a home in Palm Springs with (at present) 50 LIFX lights. While the system worked OK in the early days of LIFX firmware (when the bulbs used a "mesh" architecture to communicate with each other and controlling apps), a firmware update which abandoned that approach left my lights uncontrollable via wifi.
I've been infuriated with LIFX about this as controlling the lights via their cloud worked acceptably (that is, if I had my phone, for example, on LTE rather than wifi, commands sent to the lights via the cloud worked fine -- and with no perceivable latency over local wifi control). The obvious solution from LIFX would be to let you set your local LIFX installation to relay control changes to the cloud rather than having than managed locally. BUT, they've not implemented that.
SO, I had tried things such as adding Airport Express routers to try and support this large number of devices which the Ubee wifi router from TWC/Spectrum we have here could not handle. Such solutions did not work.
Installing eero fixed that (with a couple of small caveats - read on). My lights are now discovered in the LIFX app relatively quickly and all seem controllable.
* Onboarding or resetting lights can be difficult on iPhone because (1) LIFX communicate only on 2.4 GhZ (2) since iOS AND eero have no way of assigning a device to only 2.4 Ghz SO, you may get into a situation where you cannot properly connect a new light (or a light that you have reset/need to reconfigure) in LIFX app. My workaround (an unpleasant one) is to use my Windows laptop for such tasks as I can tell my laptop's wifi adapter to prefer 2.4 band.
(EERO, PLEASE ADD BAND STEERING!!! It's actually essential for s**t like this... c'mon, bro.)
* When ALL lights are on, the LIFX app can still get rather slow and I've seen it seemingly not enumerate all lights, even though eero shows them all being connected to the network. (There are occasionally a light or two at random that seem not controllable in the app.)
That's likely not eero's fault. There's definitely still some flakiness in LIFX app in terms of handling large installations (and the people at LIFX seem somehow gobsmacked that anybody would have more than a couple of their lights installed -- seriously, WTF, you morons... but I digress).
YMMV as in all things, but eero seems to go a long way toward realizing the potential of LIFX.
Device limit eero
The Best Parental Control Apps and Devices for Safe Internet Browsing
While the internet was promised to revolutionize communication around the world, for dads, it’s a minefield of weirdness and danger for his child or children. Thankfully, technology, which allowed the problem, has also invented a way to combat it. Parental control routers, beefed-up software, and web-based internet parental controls are essential to a father’s peace of mind and a safer, more carefree child. This doesn’t get you out of a mandatory explanation of the Internet to your child (the modern equivalent of the “birds and the bees” chat of yore), as well as the deft monitoring of browser history and the well-disguised look over the shoulder. Screen time and its regulation is also part of any good dad’s routine. But to fill in all the gaps that your loving monitoring can’t reach, today’s options of apps, routers, and devices like the Gryphon Smart Mesh Router, the Circle Home Plus, and the Amazon eero Pro mesh network will easy your worries. So take heart: Where the flesh fails, machines are ready to serve and protect.
The best parental control software puts parents in command of the content their children can view and the amount of time they can spend online. They also help restore a parent’s sense of control while extending peace of mind when they’re not in the same room. With a proper device, parents, can restrict access to specific sites and apps, filter dangerous or explicit web-content, manage time, and even track their kid’s location. Short of banning our kids from social media, these parental control apps at least give us some idea of what our kid’s our doing in front of the screens all day.
The programs, routers, apps, and devices below are some of the best parental control systems we’ve found. They’re easy to set up, work on a variety of devices for a number of family members, and inform — but don’t bombard — parents with necessary updates. Of course, it’s also important to supplement parental control devices with regular discussions with kids about online safety. An open dialogue is often the best defense.
The Best Overall Parental Control Apps and Devices
Smart Mesh Router and Parental Control System by Gryphon
The sleek, simple-to-connect router (plug it in, download the app, and you’re set) offers everything we want in parental control software and more. Thanks to six internal tri-band antennas and 3Gbps, it blankets an area of up to 3,000 square feet in a powerful mesh network and offers congestion-free browsing. It offers screen time management by device, browsing history, bedtime/homework time parameters, safe search, and YouTube filtering, as well as a nifty crowd-ranking system, which allows on-the-fence parents to tap into the wealth of experience of others that have gone down the same path and then make a decision. The Gryphon app also makes things easy. With it, parents can immediately pause internet access, set up multiple users, and give approval to website or bedtime extension requests from anywhere, in real-time. While certainly pricey, its long list of features provides parents with excellent peace of mind.
Buy Now $209.00
AX Advanced Security and Parental Control System by Gryphon
If you feel the need, the need for speed, Gryphon's latest is the answer. It covers 3,000 square feet of space with AX4300 gigabit speed, meaning it's roughly 40 percent faster. It works with connected devices and appliances, like a smart oven or smart vacuum, and has the brand's noted parental controls. Using the app, you manage screen time, access, and see everything that’s on in your network.
Buy Now $279.00
The Best Parental Control Apps and Devices for Setting Specific Time Limits
Guardian Advanced Parental Control System by Gryphon
This expandable mesh router system lets parents fully control what their kids do online, and how much time they spend doing it, via the corresponding app. Parents filter content, view browsing history, set bedtimes/homework times, limit screen time, enforce safe search, and turn off the Internet entirely. And if you're particularly concerned about your kid's browsing, you can even see their full browsing history even if they delete it. You get 1,800 square feet of coverage. The app is intuitive and easy to use.
Buy Now $99.00
The Best Parental Control Apps and Devices That Work with an Existing Router
Parental Control Device by Circle
This simple box from Circle Media Labs plugs right into your home router. Through an app, it grants you God-like control over your kids' mobile devices even when they're out and about. The app is well-designed and easy to use. With the impressive ability to block specific platforms and track and limit the time spent in specific apps, there's almost nothing it can't do. Just take note that, after a year, you'll have to pay $10 per month for premium features like rewarding extra time for good behavior and location tracking. One year free of premium Circle service is included.
Buy Now $109.64
Safe Internet Filter by The Cleaner
The Cleaner's white box plugs into your router with an ethernet cable and allows parents to limit what children can do online. Once plugged in, it automatically discovers all of the devices on your network. Its device-by-device browsing history includes every site your children visit, as well as blocked ones they try to visit. There's also a long list of filters that are both category-based —games, social media, etc —and pegged to specific websites and apps (Snapchat, Netflix, Facebook). Router Limits can also filter search results in Google, Bing, and YouTube to ensure your children don't stumble across something questionable in a search. A mobile companion app, which costs an additional $10 per month, can be installed on devices to duplicate the protection that's in place on the home network on mobile connections or other Wi-Fi networks. If you share your Wi-Fi information with guests, you'll have to tell them you can monitor their traffic (well, you really should), which is kind of awkward.
Buy Now $74.99
The Best Parental Control Apps and Devices for Large Homes and Multiple Rooms
Eero Prop WiFi Parental Control System by Amazon
In addition to providing a mesh network of speedy WiFi that coats all corners of a home, eero’s parental control software let you filter adult, illegal, and violent content for specific profiles that you set up on your network. Best of all, eero Secure filters new content in real-time. eero Secure also works for every device connected to your network. You do, however, have to play for the eero Secure plan to get the full parental control benefits of this router system. But the $10 a month is, in our opinion, very much worth it. It should however be noted that eero also doesn't have a URL-blacklisting feature.
Buy Now $319.00
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Going against the grain, the latest Eero mesh kit is built around small, inexpensive devices, but it lacks the speaker and microphone you'll find on the Orbi Voice and Nest Wifi routers.
Editor's Note: We periodically update our reviews to make sure that pricing and information is up to date. The rating and recommendations in our Eero mesh kit review is unchanged from when it originally published in February of 2020.
As this router is the follow-up to one of the best mesh Wi-Fi systems on the market, we've been eagerly waiting to see what the new Amazon-owned Eero would deliver, and the results are mixed. It doesn't measure up on range and performance, and its Secure+ protection plan costs an extra $100 a year. Still, at $249 for a three-pack, it's the best bargain in mesh networking today.
Eero Mesh review: Design
Since being purchased by Amazon last year, Eero has been very busy. It has not only engineered a smaller mesh networking kit that should be more than enough to fill most homes, but the company has also dropped its prices; at $249 for a three-pack, it costs $150 less than the similar trio of devices for the 2017 Eero.
Small, white and with rounded corners, the Eero device is one of the smallest networking designs around. At 3.9 inches square and 2.4 inches tall, it's smaller than Google's Nest Wifi devices and positively miniscule compared to Netgear's Orbi devices. In other words, it's easy to hide (like on a bookshelf) but is unobtrusive enough to be left out in the open on a coffee table.
- More: A router VPN is the best way to secure your Wi-Fi at home
Eero Mesh product specs
Wi-Fi specs: 802.11ac/dual-band mesh kit
Number of antennas/removable: 4/no
Ports: Two 1Gbps Ethernet
Processor: Quad-core 700 MHz
Wi-Fi chip: Qualcomm IQP4019
Size: 3.9 x 3.9 x 2.4 inches
Peak throughput: 342.1 Mbps (at 5 feet)
Range: 65 feet
Price: $250 for three units
Eero is available in any color so long as it's white, making for a rather plain contrast with the Nest Wifi's pastel color choices. The Eero device also misses the opportunity to double as a smart speaker or house-wide sound system, because it lacks the speaker, microphone and audio amplifier that Nest Wifi and Orbi Voice have. It's not an Alexa endpoint, but if you have an Echo speaker, it can respond to commands like "Alexa, turn off Eero's LED."
Each Eero can act as a router or extension, depending on how it's configured. While the three-pack of devices costs $249, individual extensions are $99 each. That's nearly 40% off the price of the previous iteration and a bargain compared to the $349 Nest Wifi three-pack. The company also sells the Eero Beacon ($119), a plug-in, wireless-only extension, as well as the tri-band, high-performance Eero Pro ($159).
The Eero devices I looked at had a pair of gigabit RJ45 Ethernet ports, which is a step forward compared to the Nest Wifi extensions, which are wireless only. The Eero units can connect either wirelessly or with an Ethernet cable and are perfect for plugging in a printer or network storage device. A reset button on the bottom of the device lets you wipe it clean of settings.
Despite being new and fresh, the current gear can work with older Eero units. According to the company, there's no limit to the number of Eero devices on a network, although the returns will likely diminish at five or six extensions. Each device can cover 1,500 square feet, while the three-pack is good for a 5,000-square-foot home. That's much larger than the typical home, making the Eero three-pack an inexpensive way to fill a house or apartment with Wi-Fi.
Small and unobtrusive, the Eero devices are stuffed with powerful wireless technology. Each unit has three built-in antennas and Bluetooth 5.0 for use during setup and when communicating with household devices. Eero uses beamforming to tailor the transmitted data and Mu-MIMO to maximize bandwidth, but this router lacks the latest, Wi-Fi 6 technology.
The Eero system uses a dual-band design, which is a step down from the Orbi and Eero Pro systems, which use a tri-band design. The host base station, which Eero calls a gateway, acts as the network's router to set up a daisy-chain or hub-and-spoke topology with its extensions. This system tops out at a maximum throughput of 550 Mbps, far below the Nest WiFi's 2.2-Gbps rating.
Eero Mesh review: Performance
Based on Qualcomm's ubiquitous IPQ4019 Wi-Fi chipset, the Eero devices use a 700-MHz quad-core processor that's half the speed of the Nest Wifi's CPU. The Eero has 512MB of RAM and 4GB of flash storage space for its firmware and settings.
To see how well the Eero devices work, we set the system up at the Tom's Guide open office. The router hit its peak at 5 feet from the client, with 342.2 Mbps available. This performance puts the Eero well behind the Google Nest Wifi' and its 653.2 Mbps, the original Eero and its 573.7Mbps, and the Orbi RBK50 and it 552.1Mbps. The new Eero's performance dropped off to 319.8 Mbps, 285.7Mbps and 213.9Mbps at 15-, 50- and 100-foot measurements, scores that were at least 100 Mbps less than what the Orbi RBK50 and Nest Wifi were capable of.
In our single-hop mesh test, where the extension was set up 50 feet from the host, the Eero proved less than stellar, delivering 169.1 Mbps of bandwidth, about one-third of the throughput of the Nest Wifi's 480.1 Mbps. We then added the second extension at a right angle 50 feet away. At this location, the router provided only 50.6 Mbps, versus 211.4Mbps for the Nest Wifi system.
We set the router and client up with three walls and 40 feet between them to test how well the router handled common obstructions (like walls); it again disappointed, with only 84.0 Mbps of bandwidth available. That's less than a quarter of the 400.7 Mbps available from the Nest Wifi system under the same conditions.
These results were mirrored when I set up the Eero system at my 3,500-square-foot home. I installed the router in the middle of the main level and placed the extensions on floors above and below. The devices had a range of 65 feet, which is second best behind the Nest Wifi's 80-foot range. My dwelling's older construction often foils even the strongest Wi-Fi router, and the Eero three-pack left several portions of the home unconnected.
It passed my informal throughput saturation test, in which I used four computers at once: one playing the BBC World Service audio feed, two playing YouTube videos, and the fourth moving data onto and off a networking storage device. Neither the audio nor the video streams had any dropouts, artifacts or other problems.
When it was doing its thing, the Eero devices never got more than warm to the touch. Each device uses a modest 3.6 watts of power, which is on a par with the Nest devices but half the power consumption of Orbi Voice. That usage all adds up to estimated annual expenses of $4.10 for one, $8.20 for two and $12.30 for three Eeros if you pay the national average of 13 cents per kilowatt of electricity.
Eero Mesh review: Setup
Happily, the new Eero devices are just as easy to set up as the old ones, and the devices are interchangeable. Using my Galaxy Note 10 phone, the process started with downloading and installing the Android app; there's also an iOS app for iPhones and iPads. As is the case with the Nest Wifi gear, there's no way to use a web browser to set the devices up. While the app has lots of illustrations to describe the process, it started off with four screens extolling Eero's virtues.
To begin setup, I clicked on Let's Get Started and created an account with Eero using my email address and phone number. I needed to validate the email address with a verification code, but it took a frustrating 3 minutes for the code to arrive, slowing the overall process.
Next, I checked that the terms and conditions were OK with me, and then the app took over, asking me to plug in the gateway device and connect it to my broadband router with the included Ethernet cable. The device turned itself on, and its LED glowed white; there's no on/off switch.
On the app, I tapped that I was installing a standard Eero device, not a Pro model. Then, I tapped Next to see a drawing of the parts I needed; all were supplied, except for the broadband modem. After I allowed the app to use my location, it scanned for the Eero device as the device's LED blinked blue.
The app found the Eero in about 20 seconds, and I selected the device's location, which names each unit to help keep things straight as you add extensions throughout the house. All looked good, with the device's light now glowing solid blue. If the light had turned red, it would have meant that I'd lost the Eero's web connection, while yellow would mean something was wrong with the power adapter.
I finished up by typing in a network name and password and let the software register the device with Eero central. In a moment, the app showed that everything was set up and active — no restart required. Once active, the Earo delivered a network with a single name that covers both the 2.4- and 5-GHz segments and provided 180 Mbps to my iPad Pro on the first try.
Next up, I wanted to add the Eero extensions. After plugging one in on the floor below where the host gateway was located, I used the app's menu to tap on Add Extension. I viewed the app's three setup tips and then plugged in the device; it blinked white at first and then blue. The app scanned for and found the extension. The unit's LED glowed green to show a successful connection.
I used Eero's placement test to verify that the device was online and in the right position to transmit and receive the strongest signal. With that done, I added the second extension for a three-Eero network. All told, it took 15 minutes to set up the gateway and extensions for my home network.
Eero Mesh review: Configuration
Although it can seem cluttered at first, Eero's home page is a masterpiece of integration, showing all key elements of the network. Reading down from the top, there's an overall-status message, on which green means everything is OK, followed by the number of connected clients and the top three devices, ranked by use of bandwidth.
Below that, you can see what Eero devices are connected, and if you tap on that display, you get to the configuration page. Along the bottom are the most recent download and upload test results and a place to run a fresh test. Tap the upper right, and you'll get a weekly activity report, with details on malware scans, threats and ads blocked, as well as the software's family online-content filters.
Happily, unlike the Nest WiFi, which requires two apps for adjusting the configuration, Eero does it in a single app. In addition to changing the network name, password and time zone, you can also use the Advanced Settings section to change things like setting static IP addressing. I was able to adjust the firewall and domain name server (DNS), set up port forwarding, and choose the details of the internet connection. At any time, I could remotely restart or delete the network and start again.
The configuration items are not deep, but they are adequate, considering the audience. If you subscribe to the Eero Secure Plus service, there's a link to get to the underlying details, including using the ad blocker.
Eero Mesh review: Smart home integration, security and parental controls
The base Eero has adequate security using WPA2 encryption but doesn't have the ability to use the stronger WPA3 protocol or a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for authenticating its firmware upgrades. Updates are not encrypted and might be a backdoor for a hacker to enter your network.
There are two security options that can help raise a shield around Eero the network, but they will cost you.
The Secure option costs $2.99 per month or $29.99 for a full year and beefs up the defenses with Eero's Ad Block, a reputation-based cloud analysis of websites, the ability to block sites and objectionable content, and ad blocking. You'll get a weekly security report.
The Secure Plus option raises the price to $9.99 per month or $99 a year. For that, you get the 1Password credential manager, which is good for five users, as well as unlimited access for five users to encrypt.me's virtual private network (VPN). The best part is the three-system license for Malwarebytes Premium antivirus software.
Together, the package is worth much more than the annual $100 fee, making it a bargain for those who don't currently have this level of protection. On the other hand, the Netgear Nighthawk AC2300 (RS400) cybersecurity router includes in its purchase price three years of an unlimited license for Bitdefender Total Security that includes a top-shelf malware protection and a password manager but not VPN access; after that three-year period, it costs $70 per year.
Unlike Google's Nest Wifi, the Eero devices don't have heavy home-automation integration. You can use Alexa over the network to pause the internet, but you can't do more-advanced actions, like having Malwarebytes run a scan.
The Eero devices come with a one-year warranty and a slew of tech support options from the Eero Help Center. You can ask questions and troubleshoot problems with technicians over the phone, in a chat window or via email, and there are articles on the hardware and software, networking primers, and assistance with the mobile apps. It's all very useful and a step up from the 90 days of support that Netgear provides with its Orbi mesh kits.
Eero Mesh review: Verdict
Small and easy to set up, the new Eero mesh kit can fill most homes with Wi-Fi, but it doesn't impress on range or overall performance. Less expensive than the original Eero, the latest iteration has expensive security options that add a layer of protection but that can raise the price by up to $100 a year.
The Eero mesh system delivers house-filling Wi-Fi at a reasonable price. It's also one of the best bargains in mesh Wi-Fi, offering a three-pack for less than the cost of the two-piece Nest Wifi kit. You'll give up the Nest's built-in Google Home smart speaker, but that's still a relatively new feature that hasn't yet proven its long-term value.
For the best home Wi-Fi performance, our top pick is still the Netgear Orbi (RBK50), which has great speed and range and even lets you add voice interaction with the addition of the Orbi Voice. But if you want simple coverage that won't leave dead spots in your home, the Eero mesh system is an excellent deal.
Brian Nadel is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in technology reporting and reviewing. He works out of the suburban New York City area and has covered topics from nuclear power plants and Wi-Fi routers to cars and tablets. The former editor-in-chief of Mobile Computing and Communications, Nadel is the recipient of the TransPacific Writing Award.
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