You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Amazon's new Eero 6 Mesh routers: What you need to know

TechRepublic logo TechRepublic 9/25/2020 Lance Whitney
Amazon Eero Pro 6 units. Image: Amazon © Provided by TechRepublic Amazon Eero Pro 6 units. Image: Amazon

Amazon has unveiled a new flavor of its Eero mesh system that combines a mesh network with the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard. Increasingly offered by a host of vendors, mesh networks offer greater coverage and convenience over standalone routers, while Wi-Fi 6 promises faster speeds and better data management over its predecessor. If you're looking to buy a mesh network setup, the new Eero 6 system offers several tempting features. Let's check them out.

Amazon Eero Pro 6 units. © Image: Amazon

Amazon Eero Pro 6 units.

SEE: IT hardware procurement policy (TechRepublic Premium) 

Amazon Eero 6 Mesh versions and prices

Amazon has created two versions of the Eero 6 Mesh, the basic and lower cost Eero 6 Mesh and the higher performance and higher priced Eero Pro 6.

Eero 6: Aimed at environments with internet connections up to 500 Mbps, the Eero 6 is a dual-band mesh Wi-Fi 6 router with two Ethernet ports and a built-in Zigbee smart home hub. Selling for $129, a single Eero 6 router covers up to 1,500 square feet. Available for $199, an Eero 6 two-pack includes a router and one extender to cover up to 3,000 square feet. And priced at $279, an Eero 6 three-pack comes with a router and two extenders to cover as much as 5,000 square feet. Additional extenders are available for $89 each.

Eero Pro 6: Geared for homes and offices with higher-speed Gigabit internet connections, the Eero Pro 6 is a tri-band mesh Wi-Fi 6 router with two Ethernet ports and the built-in Zigbee smart home hub. Selling for $229, a single Eero Pro 6 router covers up to 2,000 square feet. Priced at $399, an Eero Pro two-pack comes with one router and one extender to cover as much as 3,500 square feet. At a cost of $599, the Eero Pro 6 three-pack offers a router and two extenders with coverage up to 6,000 square feet.

All of the new models are currently available for preorder from Amazon and will be released on Nov. 2, 2020.

Smart home and office support

Zigbee support. Both flavors of the Eero 6 come with a built-in Zigbee smart home hub. Designed to connect to Zigbee-supported Internet of Things (IoT) devices and smart home appliances, this technology eliminates the need for additional Zigbee hubs. That means you can use the Eero 6 to connect to compatible smart lights, locks, plugs, and other compatible devices.

Eero app. With the Eero app on your mobile device, you can manage your network, pause the internet, and share your network with other people, both on site and remotely.

Alexa. Using the Eero skill for Alexa and the Alexa app, you can manage certain features via your voice. As an example, you can issue a voice command such as, "Alexa, turn on the guest network."

Security

Updates. The Eero 6 automatically downloads and installs the latest security patches, bug fixes, and other upgrades, sparing you from having to manually update the router.

Eero Secure subscriptions. You can grab more layers and levels of security by subscribing to a service called Eero Secure. For $2.99 per month, the basic version kicks in advanced privacy and parental control options. For $9.99 per month, an Eero Secure+ subscription adds 1Password password management, Malwarebytes malware protection, and Encrypt.me VPN. You can get a taste of Eero Secure with a free 30-day trial.

Why go mesh?

Mesh routers and networks offer several advantages over traditional routers, especially in a large location. Traditional routers use a single point of connection that may not be sufficient to cover a wide area, resulting in dead zones throughout your home or office. You can set up additional access points or range extenders to boost the coverage, but that process can be involved.

In contrast, a mesh network serves up a more centralized and seamless option by combining the main router with one or more extenders. Placed in the right spots throughout your home or office, the router and extenders smoothly work together, all using the same network name, security options, and settings.

If you experience any dead zones, you can easily add another extender. Amazon touts the TrueMesh technology built into the Eero 6 routers for its ability to reduce drop-offs so you can better stream 4K video, play online games, and run video conferences.

Wi-Fi 6

As the latest Wi-Fi standard, Wi-Fi 6 offers faster speeds and lower latency than Wi-Fi 5. Some of the specific benefits of Wi-Fi 6 are better network range and throughput, better traffic management to allow more devices to share the bandwidth, the use of both the 2.4 GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously to improve performance, better battery life, and lower power consumption.

The major drawback with Wi-Fi 6 is that it's still new, which means most devices you're currently using probably don't support it. Manufacturers have been gradually adding Wi-Fi 6 to laptops, mobile phones, routers, and other gear. But it will naturally take time before the new flavor of Wi-Fi becomes ubiquitous.

Of course, Wi-Fi 6 is fully backward compatible, so it will work just fine with older wireless devices; you just won't enjoy the faster speeds, lower latency, and other benefits.

Wi-Fi 6 has also been an evolving standard. Approved this past April, a new standard called Wi-Fi 6E that uses a 6GHz frequency band promises even faster speeds and better bandwidth, especially for devices closer to your router. This standard is just now starting to surface in routers and other equipment but won't start to become more widespread until next year.

Dual-band versus tri-band

The dual-band coverage in the Eero 6 provides one band for 2.4GHz and one for 5GHz. The 2.4GHz frequency band is often crowded with traffic and interference, not only from Wi-Fi devices but from items such as cordless phones and microwaves. The 5GHz band was introduced as a way to unload some of that traffic, although this band offers more limited coverage than does 2.4GHz. But together, the two bands are better equipped to handle wireless traffic.

The tri-band coverage in the Eero Pro 6 offers one band for 2.4GHz and two for 5GHz. With double the bandwidth for the 5GHz frequency, these types of routers can handle more devices and connections. But the devices have to support 5GHz, and real-world performance usually depends more on other factors.

Eero 6 router specs

Wi-Fi coverage

Covers up to 5,000 square feet. (Coverage estimates are based on normal use conditions.)

Type

1 Router, 2 extenders

Wireless network speed

Best for internet speeds up to 500 mbps.

Wi-Fi connectivity

Wi-Fi 6 dual-band concurrent 2:2 (802.11ax), compatible with older Wi-Fi standards

Wired connectivity

Two auto-sensing gigabit Ethernet ports for WAN and/or LAN connectivity

Speed rating

AX1800

Smart home connectivity

Works with Alexa, Amazon Wi-Fi simple setup, 802.15.4 radio (Zigbee, Thread), Bluetooth Low Energy 5.0.

Processor, memory, and storage

1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB flash storage

Network security and services

WPA3, WPA2, profiles, cloud connectivity: TLS v1.2+, AES, SHA-256, RSA, DHCP, IPv6, NAT, VPN passthrough, UPnP, port forwarding, and static IP.

Dimensions

3.9 in x 3.8 in x 2.4 in (99.4 mm x 97 mm x 61.4 mm)

Eero Pro 6 router specs

Wi-Fi coverage

Covers up to 2,000 square feet (Coverage estimates are based on normal use conditions.)

Type

Router (connects to modem as primary router).

Wireless network speed

Best for internet speeds up to a gigabit.

Wi-Fi connectivity

Wi-Fi 6 tri-band concurrent 2:2:4 (802.11ax), compatible with older W-Fi standards

Wired connectivity

Two auto-sensing gigabit Ethernet ports for WAN and/or LAN connectivity

Speed rating

AX4200

Smart home connectivity

Works with Alexa, Amazon Wi-Fi simple setup, 802.15.4 radio (Zigbee, Thread), Bluetooth Low Energy 5.0.

Processor, memory, and storage

1.6 GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB RAM, 4 GB flash storage

Network security and services

WPA3, WPA2, profiles, cloud connectivity: TLS v1.2+, AES, SHA-256, RSA, DHCP, IPv6, NAT, VPN passthrough, UPnP, port forwarding, and static IP

Dimensions

5.6 in x 5.4 in x 1.9 in (142 mm x 138 mm x 48 mm)

To buy or not to buy?

If you're currently saddled with a traditional router with persistent dead zones, then a mesh network system like the Eero 6 is certainly worth considering. Of course, which model you choose depends on the footage and layout of your home or office. If you already have a reliable mesh network setup and don't have any Wi-Fi 6 devices, then you'll probably want to hold off on a system like this until Wi-Fi 6 becomes more pervasive.

Also see

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from TechRepublic

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon