Mesh together a wi-fi blanket
You have just purchased an expensive wireless router, in the hope that you will get a powerful signal that will allow you to access the internet from every corner of your home. But you still have no Wi-Fi signal in your bedroom, and only slightly better connectivity for the Xbox One console and smart TV in the living room. You certainly cannot browse the web smoothly, let alone stream a TV series on Netflix or download a game.
So what should you do?
Conventional Wi-Fi routers essentially create a circular coverage area of wireless signals. Chances are you would have kept the router against a wall, which instantly wastes almost half of that circular ring of internet goodness. This is because the internet wire line coming into the house usually snakes in on one side of a room. And homes are not designed in straight lines or perfect circles.
If you want strong wireless signals, you need to place the router in the centre of the room—but that isn’t always possible.
Some of the more technologically inclined users have been deploying solutions such as range extenders, which would connect wirelessly with the Wi-Fi router, to amplify the wireless signal in another part of the home. But that comes with its own set of challenges, including a complicated set-up process and internet speed drops.
This is where the newer Wi-Fi systems become relevant. Simply put, these are a bunch of multiple units, which essentially form a mesh of Wi-Fi signals in your home. You need to hook up the primary unit of a Wi-Fi system to the cable/wire that your broadband service provider has installed. The additional units, known as satellites, are linked wirelessly to the primary unit. These can be spread across your home, where Wi-Fi signals tend to be weak, for seamless internet coverage. These systems are easy to set up and manage with smartphone apps and there is no loss of internet bandwidth as the signal shifts from the base unit to the additional units.
We look at some of the coolest Wi-Fi systems that you can use if your Wi-Fi router isn’t working well enough.
Luma Whole Home
$250 (set of two); $280 (set of three)
The Luma Whole Home, available in black, white, grey and orange, has a combined bandwidth of 3.9Gbps, and packs in robust security features as well. You can lock access to certain devices based on the time of day, and it can be controlled with a smartphone app. Every additional unit costs $149.
Rs28,990 (set of two)
The Orbi Wi-Fi System has a maximum transfer rating of 3 gigabits and creates a tri-band wireless mesh. The satellite alone can cover a 2,000 sq. ft area, though the real-world range will depend on walls and furniture placement. Netgear is bundling one base unit and one satellite unit for this price, and every add-on satellite (depending on how big your home is) will cost $249.99 more.
Amplifi Wi-Fi HD
$349 (set of two, around Rs22,400)
This high-density (HD) variant of AmpliFi Wi-Fi is a combination of one wireless router and two mesh points. It has a combined bandwidth of 5.25Gbps, and would be ideal for 4K video streaming—and if you have a lot of connected devices at home. The base unit router itself has a touch screen, and the set-up can be managed through your smartphone. Every additional mesh point costs $130.
$329 (set of two); $454 (set of three)
One of the first home wireless mesh systems, this is now in its second generation. Each eero Home unit can cover around 2,000 sq. ft, twice the range of the first generation, while retaining the compact size. Each Home unit runs powerful specifications, and the company claims that software updates are installed at night (when Wi-Fi usage is minimal)—and take just a minute. eero also has a Plus subscription service ($9.99 per month) that offers active cloud-based security and malware protection, and also lets you filter content that your child’s device can access.
$299.99 (set of two); $499.99 (set of three)
One of the most powerful home Wi-Fi mesh options, each Velop unit can cover an area of as much as 2,000 sq. ft. The mesh has a maximum transfer speed rating of 6.6Gbps, and will be ideal for 4K video streaming. You can prioritize certain devices that are connected to the internet, so bandwidth isn’t affected if more devices are connected. Each additional Velop unit costs $199.99.
*Prices may vary