Eero vs Luma - Surround Wifi
Wifi has been with us for a very long time now. I'm fortunate that my house is wired for ethernet, which means I have generally had a glorious blanket of high speed internet everywhere... well almost.
For my family though, that's another matter. Wifi is infuriating to get everywhere in the house. These days with printers, and tablets and Alexa, Sonos and other devices, it's really critical that you have Wifi signal everywhere in your house.
However, the standard tech out there does not solve for this. I have tried every kind of wifi range extender and other things to solve this problem over the years and only been frustrated by the results.
Being away from their homes, and being "tech support" further complicated this.
To make matters worse, my own wifi needs have grown to require wifi to blanket the outside of my house to power things like my Ring Doorbell, outdoor Dropcams and Sprinkler System. Heck, I also needed wifi in my garage for the Tesla! In addition, wifi has gotten faster over the years, and I also wanted the best / fastest Wifi everywhere. 802.11ac is the newest wifi standard, and with my 120 Mbps internet service, I want all that data speed to get to my devices.
To date, the gold standard in simplicity, reliability and ease of use (manage from your phone) is Apple's Airport devices. But no more. Enter the new kids on the block, eero and luma.
Eero vs Luma
On paper, these two companies are similar. They are startups that are well funded, and have recently launched devices that are about the size of an Apple TV or an Apple Airport Express. You typically buy a pack of 3, plugging one into your modem and the others to ethernet or leave alone and they will create a wireless mesh network. eero has been the market longer than luma.
If you have Sonos, then you are already familiar with mesh networks. Like Sonos, these devices can talk to each other via wireless, as long as each one can "see" the other. From there they re-distribute the wifi signal creating a constant amount of coverage.
These devices are also incredibly easy to setup and manage (in theory). You do everything from your phone app. And you can manage your network from anywhere. They are cloud powered routers. eero has written a lot about their cloud operations. Impressive.
However, that is where the comparisons end. I have used both devices now and can weigh in on which one is better.
I got an eero for my father and set that up in May. I also got a Luma for myself, and waited a few months longer to get that. Then I also got an eero for myself after some disappointing results with the luma.
Below is my experience with both.
The clear winner here is eero. The simple explanation is that the eero is like unboxing an Apple Product. The box is easy to open, the materials are top notch (glossy white plastic and soft touch rubber). The charger and finishes are exactly what you would get from an Apple Product.
The Luma on the other hand feels cheap. The power plug is gray, but exactly like any other electronic product. The device box is cheap plastic feeling.
For many people this device will be visible in their home (like it is for my parents) and so I think this matters.
Oh, almost forgot. It was comical hard to actually open the luma box. No product should be hard to get out.
To set up each device, you install their iOS app, then plug in the first device and go through the setup process.
The eero device completed setup in under 10 seconds. It was what I expected, so I didn't think much of it.
The luma device took a very long time to setup and failed multiple times. This repeated with each device I set up. It was a bit baffling to be honest.
Once the devices are set up, you are now ready to add more devices.
Both devices manage software updates automatically. With the eero you can see what version you have. The software updates automatically overnight, and in the latest app update they added a mode where you can force an update. You can even see release notes here.
The luma does not show you any information about what version of the software it's running and there is no way to update, or see release notes or anything.
It's worth noting, that when I was setting up my father's eero devices, the software updates never came down. I called eero and talked to a live person and he was pretty amazing at getting it resolved. It took a few calls and emails and they determined that one of the devices was faulty and they overnight shipped a replacement the next day. I didn't have a chance to work with luma on anything like that, but the experience with eero was very impressive.
As I mentioned you do everything from the phone app. In the case of the eero I can manage my network and my Dad's from the same app. When I next visit my sister, I plan to get her setup with eero as well and I'm guessing she will need at least 5 devices.
In each phone app you can do things like manage your wifi setup and password, choose a guest network (and share the network name and password), see all the connected devices and also create profiles for each person in the house and do some basic parental controls.
Right now, I think the luma app has the edge because it has a visual map of your wifi coverage which I find handy.
Both apps offer basic parental controls. The reason I wanted to get the luma was that they had said they would offer very deep parental controls. In that time eero added parental controls and luma still hasn't delivered on what they said they would offer.
Here is the deal. They are both limited at this right now. The best parental control device (and generally useful network management device) is the Circle with Disney. I will review this soon, but I can tell you right now that it's 5 star.
Reliability and Performance
These are highly complex devices making your life simple and easy. The first few months for eero were bumpy and that's also true for luma. Amazon Reviewers rate the eero far higher than luma (4.4 star for eero vs 2.9 stars for luma). There are some very troubling issues with luma that will be resolved with time. For one thing, the Amazon rating trajectory for them is rather bad. They will need to fix this.
The biggest issue I immediately ran into with luma was that every few hours, my iPhone, PC, iPad would spin for a few seconds before completing a task such as loading a web page.
I though maybe that was just me.... but no, my wife and kids noticed it to. I did some light trouble shooting turning parental controls off and so on (this is before we had the Circle).
I also did a lot of speed tests. I have 120 Mbps service from Comcast and with the Luma not once did I ever see sustained performance hard wired. The eero however has constantly been clocking in at my full bandwidth.
In the end, my tolerance for this stuff is super low. Internet needs to work always and work well. I returned the luma after 2 days and my life with the eero has been glorious.
The luma is cheaper. This is by design as eero was the first to market and has a lot of mindshare. To get people to pay attention, I believe luma undercut them (the 3 pack is $100 cheaper from luma).
However, this is an important investment for your house. I would not recommend getting the luma due to its lower cost. That $100 could be a big deal in the long run.
When purchasing I'd recommend getting the 3 pack as each device is priced at $166 vs $199 individuals. There is also a 2 pack. I got one 3 and one 2 pack.
It's really exciting to me that wifi is entering a new era. Surround wifi will solve dead spot and coverage issues for so many families.
I fully expect the luma to resolve a number of the problems I identified. However, at this time the eero has been in the market longer, and is the clear leader.
I am super happy with my setup. I now have 5 eero devices in my house, they are all hard wired except for the one. I have replaced everything else powering wifi in the house and it's glorious.
I highly recommend getting eeros.
Exceptional. A spectacular product.