This guide will dig into the differences and similarities between the Eero, the Orbi, or Google WiFi in terms of key specifications and useful special features. After learning about what each model has to offer, read on for a succinct comparison guide that evaluates each model side by side. Finding the right mesh network device can be challenging alone, so we’ve also included a simplified buyer’s guide to streamline your shopping process.
eero Pro WFii System
- Tri-band signals at 2.4GHz, 5.2GHz, and 5.8GHz wireless
- Base 2,500 sq. ft. of coverage, expandable by 1,000 sq. ft. per node
- User friendly app that provides usage info and parental controls
- Encryption-based security with TLS and WPA2
- 10 Lumen LED nightlight on Beacons
- Integrates with Amazon Echo, Google Home, and many other WiFi connected devices
- Some incompatibility issues with iOS devices
- Difficult to access in-depth troubleshooting tools
- Anti-malware methods not particularly robust
The eero Pro WiFi System works from the belief that “Life’s too short for bad WiFi.” As such, the eero mesh network system is packed with performance through every aspect of its core functionality. Starting with its base 2,500 sq. ft. coverage and expanding outward by 1,000 sq. ft. for each additional Beacon module, the eero system can bring a new level of reliable wireless coverage to every room in your home.
This stability derives from eero’s proprietary TrueMesh technology, which uses machine learning and data collection from thousands of other homes in order to create an efficient wireless network for your home – regardless of unusual architectural constraints. You’ll certainly appreciate this data-driven approach because this model’s tri-band wireless internet is nearly unrivaled.
The eero’s user-friendly app puts a great deal of control at your fingertips, including the ability to analyze live upload and download speeds. The eero app’s Health Check feature also takes the hassle out of troubleshooting an internet outage thanks to its unique ability to diagnose and prescribe a solution based on your unique situation.
Parents can even use the eero’s app to see what devices are currently connected to the wireless internet. Indeed, this model’s suite of parental controls also empowers you to schedule your children’s internet usage based on individualized profiles.
The eero’s security portfolio is also worth noting, given that it combines both TLS and WPA2 encryption protocols for all wireless traffic. Because eero puts out monthly security updates based on their bug bounty program, you can be sure that your online connections will also remain secure.
Finally, the eero’s general compatibility is exceptional, given its recent introduction. While this model is optimized for integration with smart assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home, the eero will also play nice with streaming devices like the Chromecast and entertainment systems like the PlayStation or X-Box. Erro even provides a full compatibility list for their customer’s convenience.
With an easy app-based setup procedure and a standard kit including one eero Pro and one eero Beacon, this model will quickly set you on the path towards connecting a dozen or more devices to an exceptionally stable internet signal.
NETGEAR Orbi Ultra-Performance Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System
- Tri-band wireless with enhanced FastLane3 backhaul
- Parental controls through Circle by Disney
- Proprietary Netgear Armor security suite protects from ransomware and data theft
- Covers up to 5,000 sq. ft. using standard setup
- Minimal hardware load with only two primary devices
- Outdoor options available
- Built-in anti-virus program is only a free trial
- Only compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Taller0than-average form factor
The NETGEAR Orbi Ultra-Performance Whole Home Mesh WiFi System has won acclaim from leading tech publications including PC Mag, CNET, Wirecutter, and Forbes – and with good reason. This model provides 5,000 sq. ft. of base coverage between its main tower and single satellite unit, providing one of the lowest hardware burdens on the market.
The Orbi’s tri-band wireless system is unique in its ability to maintain a consistent signal to all devices, even as more devices join onto the network concurrently. Also, this model’s proprietary FastLane3 backhaul technology allows for uninterrupted 4K HD streaming, even with multiple devices online.
With the Orbi app, you’ll be able to accomplish a great deal more than traditional WiFi routers’ physical interfaces. While you can create a guest network and password in minutes, you can also perform live speed tests and toggle parental control settings. These parental controls are powered by Circle by Disney, allowing you to minimize your child’s screen time according to current best practices.
Netgear’s proprietary Armor security suite also comes standard on this model, giving you immediate access to industry-leading anti-virus, ransomware, and data theft protections. However, this inclusion is a double-edge sword because it is only a free trial. Those working on a budget might not want to invest in a mesh network that requires extra payments to access necessary security components.
Even so, the default Orbi system allows you to pre-schedule regular vulnerability assessments. These system-wide tests allow you to identify if your family is leaving your network open to unauthorized access and potential data theft through their internet usage habits
The Orbi’s set up procedures are also notably user-friendly, requiring only minutes of time out of the box. Using the Orbi app or a web browser, an average user can set up their network and security protocols without inputting any personal information or creating an account. Even though this model can only interface with Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant, setting both up is easy using the built-in pre-configurations.
With four Ethernet ports on the main Orbi router, you’ll even have the capability to access full speeds up to 3 Gbps using a hardwired connection. For this reason (and many others) the Orbi is a strong option for those shopping for a mesh network system. Even though it’s taller than average, this model will quickly find a comfortable spot in your at-home living spaces.
Google WiFi system
- 1,500 sq. ft. per module
- Integrated network assistant to keep you on fastest, least congested channel
- Practical security profile with modern protocols
- Network testing through app for mesh quality and internet speeds
- Accessibility options through TalkBack on Android and VoiceOver on iOS
- Most affordably priced per module
- Visually a bit intrusive
- May not reach peak internet speeds provided by ISP
The Google WiFi system has been hailed as an innovative solution that may well bring the power and flexibility of mesh networks to the masses. This potential derives from its full modular architecture as well as its overall affordable price tag. Those looking for a gateway into mesh network devices will really appreciate this model’s minimal barriers to entry, in turn.
First and foremost, Google WiFi does not run like other mesh networks with a more powerful central node and weaker satellite nodes. Instead, Google WiFi is all satellite nodes that have been given a boost, allowing them to each cover up to 1,500 sq. ft. That means that you’ll only need two to three modules to cover most average living spaces.
Google WiFi’s network assist system can also come in handy as you move about your living space and between nodes. This internal programming works behind the scenes to shift you to the fastest, least congested internet channel in order to optimize your overall upload and download speeds. You can even check to ensure that your mesh connection is being fully optimized using the in-app testing programs.
That’s not all the Google WiFi app can do, though. In fact, this app can be used to evaluate wi-fi speeds to individual devices by taking into account software and settings on that device. This really goes a step beyond other app-based wi-fi tests as it allows for specialized diagnosis of individual connection problems unrelated to the larger network contingency.
Security on Google WiFi is also outstanding, like so many other Google products before it. In terms of internet traffic sent through Google WiFi’s mesh network, the model provides a firewall that deflects unsolicited and forceful connection attempts. Google WiFi’s security portfolio also includes WPA2, the latest and most popular method for keeping out non-members through the use of a securely stored password.
Google also ensures that your individual nodes are up-to-date before any emergent threats can reach it. Their automatic updates include rigorously tested open source components that quickly and effectively patch out any new bugs or vulnerabilities before hackers can take advantage of them. All communications with Google through this passive update system are handled with TLS protocols, ensuring all sensitive data remains encrypted on both ends.
Google Wifi’s accessibility options are just another credit to their design, allowing for integration with TalkBack for Android and VoiceOver for iOS. And of course, Google Wifi seamlessly integrates with Google Home. Considering its very modest “per module” price, Google Wifi sure provides a great number of useful features that homeowners can really appreciate.
How to Choose a WiFi System
By contemporary standards, a house isn’t a home until the WiFi system is up and running. That feeling is only natural as WiFi is used for so many different important in-home functions today – everything from checking social media and email to powering our streaming television and smart assistants. With all of these important functions in mind, it’s truly amazing that so few people pay extra mind to their wireless router.
This device does the heavy lifting when it comes to spreading your WiFi signal across your entire home. Not all routers are created equal, though, and some simply don’t possess the signal strength to provide stable WiFi connections throughout a home with unusual architecture. A mesh network can make the difference in these circumstances, powered by a mesh network router like the Eero, the Orbi, or Google WiFi unit.
These innovative new devices are broadly compatible with existing modems and can spread your existing WiFi connection all across your home – up to 5,000 sq. ft. or more. Many modern models also include user-friendly smartphone apps that allow for simple setting configurations. Some models even include integrated security technology to protect every device that simultaneously connects to your newly empowered internet connection.
How do you choose, though?
Do I need a Mesh Network Device?
At face value, a mesh network device can look like a silver bullet for your WiFi connectivity and stability problems. While these devices have been shown to enhance WiFi connectivity and access in many homes, they aren’t ideal for every home and every budget. As such, it is important to evaluate if a mesh network device is right for your home.
There are a variety of reasons you might justify purchasing a mesh system device. Use the following categories to perform an analysis of your current systematic WiFi problems. After evaluating your current WiFi posture, you’ll possess a better understanding of whether or not you truly need a mesh network device in your home.
Network Stability and Access – One of the primary reasons homeowners elect to make the upgrade to a mesh network is due to problems with WiFi stability and access. Though it goes without saying, an internet routing device that doesn’t provide stable internet connections is more of a hassle than it is an in-home asset. Mesh network devices can remedy this problem in certain circumstances.
Mesh network devices are notably able to eliminate so-called “dead zones” or regions in your home where WiFi connections are wholly inaccessible. While this can be caused by a variety of reasons that are often remedied through a mesh network’s decentralized system of nodes. These nodes act like repeater towers, redoubling the signal at important locations in your home.
Internet stability and access may also be a problem of concurrent use. Some network routers only allow a certain number of devices on its network at once before it begins to throttle connection speeds. This means, if you want to plug in multiple devices at once, you have to think about the home network’s capacity for WiFi coverage. Mesh network devices like the eero, the Orbi, and Google WiFi dual-band routers allow for a nearly unlimited number of connections, even if those connections are used to stream videos and movies.
Ineffective and Outdated Standard Routers – After moving into a home, most homeowners find a router and WiFi system and stick with it for the long-term. This can be especially troubling if the device is difficult to set up, leading to sub-par performance. As such, replacing old or challenging standard routers has become a primary reason for folks to upgrade to mesh network devices like the eero, the Orbi, and Google WiFi.
Many consumer-grade WiFi devices are anything but user-friendly. This can lead to frustration when a seemingly unsolvable problem arises to inhibit your internet usage. While mesh network devices cannot be said to be totally free of the occasional technical problem, they do make it far easier to troubleshoot a solution. Integrated smartphone apps and online support teams are just two ways these modern routers take the headache out of WiFi maintenance.
Also, much like any piece of technology, age has a way of curtailing how well a WiFi device performs. While this may be caused by aging physical components, this decrease in performance is most likely caused by outdated, poorly optimized firmware. Mesh network devices largely curtail this problem by providing regular firmware updates. As such, mesh network devices carry a much slower performance half-life.
Usual Architecture – Those living in large or unusually shaped homes are all too familiar with the feeling of losing an internet connection as they move around the house. Unusual home architecture can play a role in degrading your WiFi connection, especially if your WiFi system relies on a single point-of-communication.
Mesh network systems like the eero, the Orbi, or Google WiFi primarily use a series of specialized nodes in order to bounce your WiFi signal to every corner of your home. This decentralized system is very customizable, allowing you to always acquire more nodes in order to refocus your WiFi signal where you need it most. Many homeowners have elected for this internet solution in order to combat the inflexible nature of their home’s architecture.
Aesthetic Unity and Placement – Simply put, some internet routing devices are very ugly. Although advancements in routing technology have improved massively over the last several decades, some companies still insist on putting out WiFi devices that look like they’re out of a pulp sci-fi novel.
Those looking for a more aesthetically pleasing WiFi device system will find their upgrade to a mesh network truly worthwhile. eero, Orbi, and Google WiFi nodes are all sleek, modern, and able to harmoniously integrate with any room décor. This is especially important as their array of nodes spread across the house could really make for an eye sore if not for their creator’s efforts to make a visually refined device.
eero, Orbi, & Google WiFi
While mesh network systems are still cutting edge in terms of providing whole-home internet coverage, leading tech developers are all making an effort to provide their own unique spin on its base capabilities. As such, the average consumer must take some extra time in order to research which models stand above the competition when it comes to functionality and price.
Among this crowded field, the eero, the Orbi, and Google Wifi all stand out for their superior ability to blanket cover your whole home in stable, reliable WiFi connectivity. However, each of these models differs in important aspects that may just be geared to fit your family’s needs.
As such, each of these following reviews focuses on the core specifications and special features that allow each model to excel. If you’re looking to add one of these cutting edge systems to your home, be sure to read these reviews and succinct pro-cons lists to ensure that you are picking the best option for your home and your budget.
eero, Orbi, and Google Wifi continue to pace the market when it comes to creating affordable and reliable at-home mesh networks. Comparing each model side by side in store or online can be challenging, so this comparison guide will do the heavy lifting for you across several important attributes.
Coverage area is a prime specification that can really make or break a mesh network device with all other factors being equal. Because of the modular nature, this coverage area is very dependent on how each module performs on its own and in conjunction with the larger network of devices.
Both eero and Google Wifi perform in the same class, in terms of coverage area and expandability. Both of their satellite modules can grow coverage area by between 1000 and 1500 sq. ft. per module. While that’s certainly worthwhile, it cannot compare to the Orbi’s base arrangement.
This standard orientation – with one base unit and one satellite – can reach up to 5000 sq. ft., which is more than enough to cover even an exceedingly large living space. So, on this core specification, the Orbi takes first place for its ability to cover more area with less hardware.
Smart integration can also be a deal breaker for those looking to fully automate their home processes through an interwoven smart network. All three of these leading models provide a different level of integration, providing different options for homeowners with different priorities regarding smart integration. For those who want to take their smart home to the next level, an advanced home WiFi system is key.
For example, the Google Wifi mesh system provides by far the best WiFi integration with Google Home due to their shared programming origins. In the same vein, the Orbi provides a standard level of compatibility with two leading smart assistants in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
The eero takes the cake in this class as it provides compatibility with all previously mentioned systems and hardware, as well as compatibility with entertainment devices like Chromecast, Roku, and Sling. Even many game consoles like the PlayStation and the X-Box play nice with eero. As such, it leads the pack in overall smart integration.
While most modern technologies lean towards being easy for average users to interact with, not every piece of hardware and software succeeds to these ends. As such, a user-friendly mesh network is a real asset when it comes to integrating a long-term internet solution that doesn’t add daily hassle.
All three industry-leading models forgo a physical interface in favor of app-based connectivity. Google Wifi’s app, for example, allows for a bevy of optimization tests to be run in-app while the eero’s app allows you to troubleshoot network connectivity problems using machine learning from thousands of other eero-connected homes.
Also, each of these apps – including the Orbi app – provides some degree of parental control. These allow parents to make network-based choices about where their children can digitally explore and for how long. As a result, there’s no clear winner in this category. The eero, the Orbi, and Google Wifi are all easy to use beyond expectations.
There’s an old saying about how “the devil is in the details.” There’s some truth to this when it comes to mesh router devices, though with far less evil intent. Special features can be a big selling point for most homeowners, especially if one feature speaks to their needs or interest more than any other single specification.
Though it’s part of their core internet coverage, both the eero and the Orbi’s tri-band wireless system stands out for its special ability to handle a high volume of connected devices without decreasing individual connection speeds. Google Wifi’s accessibility features are also extra special given their ability to make the system’s modules more user-friendly to those with vision or hearing impairments.
Here again, it’s difficult to pick a single winner. Preferences will vary from person to person, so it’s worthwhile to evaluate your needs and desires for an at-home internet network before committing to a certain model based on its special features.
Price tends to differ slightly depending on the listing retailer, but even so, it can provide one of the starkest contrasts for choosy shoppers. Those buying on a budget should be especially mindful of individual node prices, as these can really raise the long-term cost of operation for any mesh network.
Both the eero and the Orbi fall within the same general price range, with the Orbi costing just slightly more based on its larger, more effective hardware. Those looking for a bargain will really appreciate Google Wifi’s comparatively low per module cost. Moreover, Google Wifi doesn’t use an expensive prime module, making it easy to expand your in-home mesh network at a reasonable price.
So, when it comes to price, Google Wifi offers the most while costing the least per module.
When you at-home internet is down, there’s simply no time to spare. You’ll need a new home internet network solution quick, requiring you to compress your critical research stage. If you’ve found yourself in this kind of situation, review these quick tips in order to quickly and efficiently evaluate which mesh network system will best serve your family’s needs:
Base Capabilities Check – Be sure that your chosen mesh network system provides enough coverage area to cover the main living spaces of your home (either with or without additional nodes). In order to meet your average usage capacity, you should also ensure that your new network will be able to handle as many devices as you have family members at once (ideally more).
Security can also play a key role in the base capabilities of your new mesh network. Ensure that your new network provides password protection through a contemporary encryption protocol such as WPA2.
Integration Check – If you intend to use smart devices with your mesh network, check to be sure that your specific devices are optimally compatible. Some devices provide additional compatibility with gaming consoles and home entertainment systems, allowing you to further integrate and optimize how much bandwidth capacity your streaming devices use.
Price Check – Though it goes without saying, you should always compare prices in order to find the best bargain. In the case of mesh networks, you should also compare prices for the individual satellite nodes, as you will likely need one or more to fully blanket your home in stable internet coverage.
A Buyer’s Guide to Mesh Network Devices
Many modern homeowners feel like they are in over their heads when it comes to choosing between mesh network devices like the eero, the Orbi, or Google WiFi. Though there can be some challenging terminology associated with this technology, you can quickly learn to recognize these terms when you see them on the packaging or online listing.
With the information contained in this buyer’s guide, you’ll be empowered to select a mesh network system based on its key credentials, including aspects of functionality. Be sure to read each of these specification categories carefully as they will almost certainly play an important role in your upcoming comparison shopping.
Mesh Technology – While this term carries the differentiating factor for network devices like the eero, the Orbi, or Google WiFi, the true nature of this technology can at times be obscured.
In so many words, a mesh WiFi network denotes that each node in the system communicates with one another to uniformly spread an internet uplink over a large space. This is in comparison to the traditional routing system, which uses a single radio channel through which each node communicates with the main router.
As their web-like name suggests, mesh networks result in a blanket of internet connectivity being thrown over the breadth of your home. This allows connected devices to move around the home as necessary without needing to reconnect to the network. Mesh networks also carry a decreased degree of lag per interaction, given that each node acts as an individually effective uplink point.
Also, mesh network nodes are not “extenders” in the traditional sense. While they do effectively extend the overall range of your WiFi signal, they do not require the creation of a separate network as traditional router extenders do. This allows homeowners to better establish a single, unified WiFi network for the whole home that doesn’t require extra maintenance and password memorization.
Coverage Area – Perhaps one of the most important specifications for any WiFi system (mesh or otherwise), coverage area describes the maximum expected space (in square feet) that a WiFi signal can cover. Most mesh network systems provide a base amount of coverage area emanating from its hub station (or in other words, whichever node is directly attached to main internet router).
Unlike traditional WiFi systems, though, mesh networks are not limited to only this initial range. Instead, mesh networks incorporate one or more specialized standalone nodes that “repeat” the internet signal all around a home. These nodes or satellites tend to come with a base range (typically a fraction of the base unit) that can add to the overall coverage area.
Parental Controls – Individual internet habits have begun to shift, primarily brought about by the shift from corded to wireless internet access. While children can and should be taught proper internet usage habits, there are times when systematic parental controls can come in handy. Unique to their class, mesh network systems often incorporate parental controls that allow parents to hold the key to their children’s internet access.
Specific parental control functions vary from system to system, especially if the mesh network device uses an integrated suite like Circle by Disney. However, most mesh networks allow parents to make individualized profiles and supplement them with schedules and website blacklists.
Some mesh network parental controls even give you the ability to selectively toggle the entire network “off” when you are trying to encourage sleep, family time, or non-wired entertainment.
Set Up Method – Like any home appliance or fixture, set up is a crucial factor to consider when purchasing a new WiFi network system. For the most part, mesh network systems are designed to be easy to set up, often requiring only basic knowledge of wireless network operations and a smartphone.
In fact, more and more mesh network systems have followed Google’s example by creating an app-based setup guide. These guides are able to intuit key aspects of your existing internet infrastructure and home architecture, allowing it to make recommendations about node placement.
For the most part, mesh network system listings will only indicate if the system provides app-based setup. If you desire to find a more qualitative analysis of how easy or difficult the setup process truly is, your best bet is to check online user reviews of the product. Because set up can be a major sticking point for many non-tech savvy customers, many are more than happy to provide honest details of their successes and failures during this important process.
Form Factor and Aesthetics – While appearance and size aren’t necessarily the most important details when choosing a functioning device like a WiFi system, many customers still take note of these physical aspects in order to determine if a given model will match their décor. Most customers are looking for a visual appearance that won’t distract from the space the device is placed in.
Both of these factors may be extra important when considering a mesh network system. That is because a fully functioning system of this type requires the strategic placement of satellite nodes throughout the home. Though most industry-leading systems incorporate plain colored, compact nodes, shoppers should still be mindful of systems that incorporate notes that may be distracting in their personalized living spaces.
Smart Device Integrations – As more and more homeowners embrace the streamlined simplicity of integrated smart technologies, more and more homeowners express the desire to integrate their smart devices with their home internet system. This, in theory, would allow a user to complete all regular internet setting changes through voice commands.
For the most part, industry-leading models provide integration with prominent smart assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. Customers looking for specific compatibilities should consult online user manuals or manufacturer forums in order to determine if their desired mesh network will play nice with their in-home smart devices.
Security Capabilities – While the general dangers of online exploration are generally understood today, the specific channels malicious actors take in order to infiltrate your personal data are not. WiFi systems can be one entry point for keen hackers and determined viruses, so many mesh network devices integrate some degree of security protocols to protect all users connected to its network.
Specific security protocols vary from system to system, with some devices focusing more heavily on end-point security. For example, Google Wifi incorporate a firewall system that repels unsolicited or forceful connection attempts. This model (as well as others like the eero) also use WPA2 security encryption to ensure that only those with the proper password can attain systematic access.
Some older and low-end mesh network devices may offer WPA, WEP, and WPS security protocols. These models should be passed over because their security protocols have been deemed insecure by the WiFi Alliance. Homeowners with these devices should seriously consider replacing them due to realistic security concerns.
Equipment Volume and Cost – While initial costs are always on shoppers’ minds, expansion costs are sometimes difficult to visualize while shopping. Such a factor can become acutely important in the case of mesh networks, which require supplementary nodes when trying to expand indoor internet coverage area.
As such, those considering comparing mesh network systems should also compare the indicial cost of satellite nodes. This will allow you to gain a better understanding of how much the device may cost over its full lifespan.
Smart Phone Requirement – Because of their integrated design, many mesh network devices lack a physical interface. Instead, they use a more user-friendly visual experience provided through a compatible app. This system comes with many benefits, including many analysis tools that can increase efficiency and minimize troubleshooting.
However, these apps require a smartphone or tablet, as expected. As such, prospective buyers should check each model’s specification sheet in order to determine if it provides an app for their specific mobile operating system. Nearly every major brand provides apps for iOS (Apple) and Android phones, though some are more compatible than others.
Alternative Connection Methods – Most mesh network systems still provide hardware for traditional corded internet connection methods, such as through Ethernet. While this is not an essential component, those looking to take part in data-heavy internet operations such as streaming or video gaming should seriously consider reserving an alternative wired hookup option.