For years—literally years—I have struggled with the wifi in my house. It's not a big house, nor is it multi-level, nor is it made of some exotic material. And yet until last month, it had proven absolutely impossible to get consistent wifi if you moved from one spot to another.
Both my wife and I often work from home, and I mean, come on, I live on the Internet, so this was an excruciating situation. Sit right near the router in the living room and you had normal Internet, but move to the kitchen or god-forbid, the bedroom in the back and you had that airplane Internet, good enough to check Twitter every once in a while, but forget streaming music or staying connected to Slack or clicking on a link and having the page load.
Slowly, over years, this drove me insane. And I did some wild, very expensive things trying to fix the problem.
First, I bought an incredibly expensive Wifi router. Thing was bristling with antennae! I won't name it, but it was more than $300. This seemed to sort of help, maybe. At least in the kitchen.
Second, I tried experimenting with different places to stick the router. Up high, down low. I wiggled its antennas into different positions. I googled, "Wifi tips and tricks," and clicked on Wikihow links. Shit was getting desperate.
Third, I bought a range extender. You know, one of those little mini-routers that's supposed to boost the signal? This seemed to help: I was always connected to a strong wifi signal—but it created two networks within my house, so my phone and computer would often get confused about which one they were supposed to be on. And in any case, there was a substantial speed drop off when I connected to the secondary network.
It was made all the worse by the feeling that I was pissing my time away on an almost inconsequential problem. But every single time I used my phone or computer, I had to stutterstep through the basic operations of Internet life.
As I struggled with this scenario, a company by the name of Eero got in touch. Their CEO, Nick Weaver, offered to come out to my house. He looked at my house and shook his head sadly. Wifi routers suck, he had concluded, and he wanted to fix them. The problem was not truly intractable, but it was widespread. No one had really tried to fix it, Weaver insisted, at least until his company got going.
Their solution was simple: instead of one router, you'd buy three little wifi nodes, which would work together to cover one's home. They'd communicate with each other and automagically figure out if there was a problem. They'd minimize interference with other networks and sources of noise. It was to be wifi that "just worked," in the Jobs sense of the phrase.
By the time he left, I was salivating, waiting for this product to arrive, even if the price was steep—$500 for a three-pack.
But the product development took some months, and I grew desperate, so desperate that I paid Comcast to install a second line in the back of our house, and I hooked up another fancy router to that new cable box. We were paying for the Internet twice.
And still, there were problems!
My phone would lock onto the network in the front of my house and then I'd walk to the back and it wouldn't switch. I'd have to turn off my wifi and then turn it back on to get it to connect. Sometimes it was easier to just leave my wifi off in the house, paying for cellular data that was implausibly faster and more responsive than my double-barreled wifi connections.
It was like the world's lamest, gentlest form of mental torture. The cost I was incurring on a monthly basis in cellular data overages and the secondary Comcast line was merely the embodiment of the minor, but long-lasting psychological pain that this stupid problem was causing me.
Then, right before I left on paternity leave, in early February, Weaver got back in touch. He had review units, he said, and he could come back to my house and fix my problem. He arrived bearing an oblong package containing three Eero units. We installed them in about ten minutes, downloaded the paired app, and were suddenly in business. I walked back and forth through my house in amazement.
I piled up all the routers and extenders and cords into a pile and took a picture of them to prevent me from lighting them on fire.
I didn't want to burn them just yet because when somebody tells you that something "just works," you need some time with that product to see if the claim holds. I wanted to know if I'd ever have to toggle my wifi again, if I'd keep going over my cellular data plan, if I'd ever want to throw my computer out the window in frustration.
And the clear answer is: Eero just works. It is ROCK SOLID. I almost never think about my wifi anymore, unless it is to smile lovingly at one of the little white boxes that have made my Internet life easier. The only small hiccup I've encountered is that my Sonos music system seems to lose its connection to the network once a week or so. But holy hell, that's nothing compared to what I'd been dealing with before.
Put it this way: I have almost never experienced such a big upgrade in a tech product. In fact, I can only remember two: going from a dumbphone to the iPhone and from an old Mac to the Macbook Air. And like both those products, the eero routers sit at the base of my digital experience. They make almost every action just a little faster, a little better, a little easier. (Update: If you're wondering, this is a review unit I'm testing, but I'll be buying this system.)
Now I'm just hoping that canceling that shameful second Comcast account doesn't become my new niggling nightmare.