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Hardware Review Eero 2nd Generation Review: Now Twice As Powerful! On Top Of The Connectivity Revolution (1 Viewer)

DaveF

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I’ll only buy a mesh system that’s reviewed and recommended by Wirecutter and/or ArsTechmica (which is sometimes Jim Salter writing for both). They’ve done the best networking gear reviews the past few years I’ve seen, accessible to regular people. They cut through the sales puffery and get to how well it works in real world scenarios.

I would not buy based on inexpert randos writing affiliate-link articles for 9to5mac.
 

Ronald Epstein

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I had hoped to work out a deal with Eero for them to send me their latest mesh system for review. Just to make things clear, I don't generally receive free products. I work out a deal where I am getting a discount in exchange for a review and promotion of their product whether it is positive or not.

Doesn't look like that will be happening this time around.

So, since I am going to be paying full price to move up to WiFi 6 I am no longer tied to eero.

I would love to and had planned to continue with eero, but while talking with someone on Facebook this morning (on an eero thread), I was urged to go with something else -- something better.

I am heavily leaning towards swapping my Eeros out for the AMPLIFI ALIEN system. I talked with a guy in California who invited me to call him. He has a large home and has three of the units scattered across it and is getting exemplary WiFi coverage and speed across his home and yard.

Thus far, the opinion that I am being given is that the Eero is subpar to the coverage and speed I will get with Amplifi.

Of course, this is one man's opinion based on his experience and knowledge of networking. He told me to call Amplifi during the week and talk to their customer support people who always answer the phone, and are located in The United States. They are not overseas support.

If I do this, it will be a few hundred dollars more expensive as I will be doing something rather unique with this mesh system that will cost me a bit more than I had planned but probably worth it in the end.

Please be aware that I am not putting down Eero. They have performed exceptionally well for me and anyone looking to upgrade to WiFi 6 mesh should consider them for their price point. What I am looking to do is more expensive and perhaps unnecessary, but that's the way I roll...

Stay tuned...
 

John Dirk

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I am heavily leaning towards swapping my Eeros out for the AMPLIFI ALIEN system.

Yea, that's got your name written all over it, Ron! Just keep in mind, Amplifi is made by Ubiquiti, a company focused mainly on Enterprise level solutions. I haven't taken a close look at this particular router but Ubiquiti's products generally require a little more expertise than the likes of Eero or Netgear to reach their full potential.
 

DaveF

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Migh be great. But prior Amplifi performed so poorly, Wirecutter stopped testing them.

Best Wi-Fi Mesh-Networking Kits 2020 | Reviews by Wirecutter
For this round, we dropped some of the poorest-performing kits from our previous rounds of testing (such as the AmpliFi HD, Google Wifi, and Zyxel Multy X kits).
 

Ronald Epstein

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Dave and John,


Let me start with Dave. I have spent a good couple of early morning hours researching Amplifi and you are absolutely correct that their HD units didn't rate very well. I am somewhat skeptical of Alien but thus far, I have read a lot of positive reviews though none of the big sites like Wirecutter, The Verge, etc. haver talked about it.

The Orbi has always been rated as one of the best. Not sure if they have a WiFi 6 model yet, but the problem I have with that brand -- if I understand it correctly --- is the main router having to be in the center of the house and each of the mesh units communicate with it rather than each other. I don't have my Internet coming into my home at a centralized location. it's in an upper office. So, I need the main point to communicate with the closest mesh and that to continue down the chain across the house.

John...

I really look forward to your input. You have a wealth of knowledge about networking, WiFi, how it works. I am just a commoner looking for the best coverage in my home.

The Alien does look like the prime candidate to purchase. I plan to do something crazy. I am not buying the main router and extender. I am buying three routers. That's a $1200 purchase though I think there may be a coupon out there that brings it down to around $960. Not sure.

That's a little over $300 more than the eero 3-pack.

Why three main router purchases? From conversations I have had with a guy out in California (who also has network knowledge) and from his conversations with Amplifi support, it's better to buy the three routers than deal with an extender. Plus, if you look at the extender it is missing additional ethernet ports on the back as well as the front touchscreen.

The plan is to put two of the Alien routers in backbone mode (I think that is what it is called) with underground 200' Cat 6 ethernet connecting from one end of the house to the other. That should really boost coverage. The third will be put in the farthest end of the house, the basement. That third router will act as a mesh unit.

The only bad things I have heard about the Alien routers is that they have no multi gig port nor support for 160MHZ channels. I don't know how important that is in my setup. There is no dedicated backhaul in mesh mode. I am not sure what that means, but only one of the three units will be used as a mesh (two will be connected directly). Whether Eero has the same issues, I don't know.

Bottom line is, I got into Eero because I made a nice deal with them for the first and second generation product release. It didn't cost me much to get into the game. I have been very happy with Eero. However, now I am looking at paying full price to get into WiFi 6 my choices are wide open and I don't mind paying for something potentially more powerful.

Anything the both of you might want to add and/or correct me on would be most appreciated.
 

Ronald Epstein

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If you’re using wired backhaul, the wifi backhaul radios are much less important.



Dave,

Can you explain that further to someone that has no idea what wired backhaul is?

I am assuming the wired backhaul is wiring two units together which is what I plan to do?

Again, the plan is to connect two Alien (or Eero) routers via outdoor ethernet. Only the third would be used as a wireless mesh unit.

Thanks
 

DaveF

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If you’re connecting the satellite units to ethernet, you’re using wired backhaul. They won’t be using the radios to relay data back and forth to the primary, wired router. They’re using ethernet to relay info back and forth.
 

Ronald Epstein

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If you’re connecting the satellite units to ethernet, you’re using wired backhaul. They won’t be using the radios to relay data back and forth to the primary, wired router. They’re using ethernet to relay info back and forth.

So, it sounds like I am doing a good thing by connecting at least two of the three units.
 

John Dirk

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the problem I have with that brand -- if I understand it correctly --- is the main router having to be in the center of the house and each of the mesh units communicate with it rather than each other.

This is also the recommended placement for the Alien router you're considering and any other mesh system.

1605015515752.png



I plan to do something crazy. I am not buying the main router and extender. I am buying three routers. That's a $1200 purchase

For that money [actually much less] you could easily pay a professional to extend wired Ethernet anywhere in your home and then install cheap Ethernet switches and AP's where needed. The thing to remember here is that no piece of hardware can overcome the limits inherent in the protocols that it relies upon. Even at its very best, wifi is a compromise to wired Ethernet. The various protocols [wifi 5, wifi 6, MIMO] attempt to mitigate the compromise through various means and with very inconsistent results depending on a myriad of factors typical of real-world environments. Meanwhile manufacturers either create perfect laboratory environments for their testing or just fudge their numbers entirely. That's why the claims and numbers they post are more or less meaningless.

Ron. I love and share your passion for all things tech. I took a look at some of Ubiquiti's products myself before redesigning my own network but, as @DaveF pointed out, the reviews are a mixed bag at best and I ultimately decided their solutions would be more trouble than they were worth for my needs.

I hope you don't mind me speaking frankly and it is certainly not my intent to be condescending in any way but a good design should always start with a needs assessment. "What are you trying to achieve." The solution that addresses your actual needs with the lowest number of tradeoffs and at the best price is your ideal solution. Products like the Alien router arouse my suspicion because they promise outstanding results for everyone, regardless of their actual physical environment or needs. Even if the Alien router did provide perfect performance in your situation, it would not be an ideal solution unless it did so at the lowest available price point.

For the best possible results, connect any device that has an Ethernet port via an Ethernet cable and switch connected back to your main router. For devices without Ethernet ports, place an access point [wired back to the main router] as close to the device as possible and preferably with clear line of sight. Obviously, this will not always be possible and good wifi is a godsend in such cases.
 

Ronald Epstein

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John,

You are never being condescending and I can handle anyone being blunt as well as they are being respectful which you certainly have been.

I am retired. I am not rich but not having a family of my own allows me more freedom to update my tech which is the single most important hobby in my life. I am always aiming to be surrounded by the best tech. Yes, that's my passion.

Price is not always an issue to get there.

I do want to upgrade to WiFi 6. I could go cheaper and buy Eero units. However, by the time I add extra modules, they will come very close to the price of three Alien units which *appear* to be more powerful in their coverage. Of course, as you suggested, Ubiquiti might be making unsubstantiated claims.

I did look into having an ethernet cable extended across my home. Had someone here from Verizon. the problem is since an addition was done to this home several years back, our original attic and basement run short of being able to run a cable to the other side of the house. Verizon wouldn't touch it. I ended up buying 200' of cable and spent a good portion of a day digging a trench and burying cable just to get a fast 1GB connection from one end of the house to the other. I then had a contractor feed it into both ends of the house.

The last thing I want to do is discourage you or anyone else from continuing to give me advice because I stick with the original plan. For me, it's just so much simpler to order a mesh kit than hire an installer to try and figure out how to wire ethernet. For me, I am willing to pay the price for sheer convenience and simplicity. I know that baffles some people. It baffles me sometimes.

So, for the moment, while I still try and figure this out, let's assume I am sticking with WiFi 6 mesh.

I am either going to buy a 3-pack of WiFi 6 Eero's and additional modules or go with 3 Alien standalone routers.

I have to figure out what would be the better choice.

And your photo of where to place the Alien (in the middle of the house) reminded me that I am hardwiring two units together and one of them will end up in the middle of the house. Just not the main unit. So, technically, I could do the same with an Orbi mesh unit.

I apologize for frustrating you, John, though you have taken it with stride.
 

John Dirk

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I apologize for frustrating you, John, though you have taken it with stride.

You haven't frustrated me in the least, Ron. I apologize if that is what my prior post conveyed. I just don't want to see you taken advantage of by marketing hype as I see this happen to well-intentioned people on a regular basis.

The last thing I want to do is discourage you or anyone else from continuing to give me advice because I stick with the original plan. For me, it's just so much simpler to order a mesh kit than hire an installer to try and figure out how to wire ethernet. For me, I am willing to pay the price for sheer convenience and simplicity. I know that baffles some people. It baffles me sometimes.

Please know I never take things that way. I don't even want you to necessarily take my advice. I want you to end up with the best overall solution for your particular needs. Simplicity and convenience are completely valid needs and often well worth a premium price. As much as I love HTF, written communication has severe limits that sometimes make complex issues difficult to deal with here. I didn't understand the full breadth of your situation before now. In my case, I think because I have worked in IT for so long I am NOT willing to pay for convenience and simplicity in most areas as we are trained to be problem solvers. I would rather "go to the lab" and devise a devious solution that works for me :emoji_alien:and is substantially less money, regardless of my ability to afford the more expensive option. That way my money can go into other things such as speakers and fallen tree removal, which it most certainly has as of late.
 

Ronald Epstein

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John,

You never conveyed it. I frustrate people. It's a fact. I'm indecisive. I research products to death and I ask many people the same questions hoping for either continuity in exceptional experience or finding the one or two who have had less and find out why.

I have made many mistakes in my life where I could have saved money doing things differently. For some reason, I never fully learn from these experiences.

All that being said, I can't begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your posts about how WiFi works as well as its limitations. I have learned more from you in this thread than anywhere else.

Thank you again!
 

DaveF

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Lacking good reviews and comparisons, I’d buy Eero.

It’s a red flag to me that Amplifi isn’t reviewed by the experts who do real WiFi testing, but they are sending review units to people who don’t know anything about networking but to say “easy to turn on, works fine with my Android phone”.
 
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John Dirk

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Respectfully, I agree with Dave. This is almost certainly a paid "review" and contains practically no objective data. Here's a better one you may or may not have already checked out.

 

Ronald Epstein

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John and Dave,

What I find discouraging when doing research is that for every great review on a product, there are equally less stellar reviews. The Orbi AX6000 has gotten great reviews across the board, but there are some reviews on Amazon that make you think twice about buying it.

The CNET review has the Alien coming in very close to the Orbi.

While you were providing additional advice and links, I was participating in some network forums.

The consensus there seems to be not to pay for WiFi 6 right now with WiFi 6E around the corner. They feel by late 2021 6E will be rolling out. And while devices will take a bit longer to catch up, it will be another $600-$1,000+ that anyone investing in WiFi 6 right now will be re-investing in just about two years.

Of course, by that time, there will be another advance on the WiFi spec around the corner.

So, right now I am just sitting here in waiting mode. I'll either buy something soon, wait for more reviews to come out on the Alien, or sit things out until WiFi 6E arrives.

Thank you both!
 

DaveF

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John and Dave,

What I find discouraging when doing research is that for every great review on a product, there are equally less stellar reviews. The Orbi AX6000 has gotten great reviews across the board, but there are some reviews on Amazon that make you think twice about buying it.

The CNET review has the Alien coming in very close to the Orbi.

While you were providing additional advice and links, I was participating in some network forums.

The consensus there seems to be not to pay for WiFi 6 right now with WiFi 6E around the corner. They feel by late 2021 6E will be rolling out. And while devices will take a bit longer to catch up, it will be another $600-$1,000+ that anyone investing in WiFi 6 right now will be re-investing in just about two years.

Of course, by that time, there will be another advance on the WiFi spec around the corner.

So, right now I am just sitting here in waiting mode. I'll either buy something soon, wait for more reviews to come out on the Alien, or sit things out until WiFi 6E arrives.

Thank you both!
Again, check out the Wirecutter reviews. Orbi was my wishlist until 2019. Wirecutter responded to recurring complaints about poor and buggy firmware updates and IIRC performance lagging behind competition, and they degraded Orbi in their rankings. Orbi is no longer a top pick last I researched.

I'm not an expert, but currently the places I've found that seem to have real expertise and do realistic, quantitative testing are:
  • The Wirecutter
  • Ars Technica
  • SmallNetBuilder
  • Cnet or PCWorld (I've seen a solid review or two in one of these places)

I would also specifically look for articles and reviews by Jim Salter. He does network and PC articles for Ars and Wirecutter and he's excellent and responds helpfully to reader questions.
 

DaveF

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None of these products from major networking hardware makers are terrible, I expect. I'm sure that Amplifi system you want will work well enough.

But if you're researching looking for the best product for your needs, Amplifi has not lately far been a top pick by competent reviewers that I've seen.
 

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