With computers, mobile devices, gaming consoles and more, we’ve become increasingly reliant on fast, reliable WiFi. Add smart home technology to the equation, and it becomes easy to see how important having a reliable signal throughout your home really is.
Having a strong internet connection from your internet service provider is important when it comes to speed and convenience, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Outdated WiFi routers can hamper the ability of your network to support all your devices, and that’s where a smart home WiFi system comes into play.
A smart WiFi system uses cutting-edge technology to make using your internet more convenient. The exact features that a system will have depends on the specific router, but most of them will use a mesh network in order to beam quality internet throughout your home. By using a base “hub” and then satellites placed strategically throughout your home, you can eliminate dead zones and make running around your home searching for a good signal a thing of the past.
Outside of these useful mesh features, the types of benefits that a smart router can offer will vary. From extremely customizable parental controls with the Netgear Orbi to taking your home network with you on the go with Ubiquiti AmpliFi, there’s a huge amount of utility and convenience out there if you do a little digging.
What Makes a Good Smart Home WiFi System?
WiFi Connectivity – Your primary concern when buying a smart router is ensuring that it’s able to provide you with an excellent signal. All the smart features in the world aren’t very useful if you can’t maintain a stable connection, right?
The strength of your WiFi signal is really going to come down to the underlying technology. Some smart routers are just built better than others, and having that extra tech really makes all the difference.
When shopping for a WiFi router, you really want to find one with simultaneous Tri-Band WiFi radios. The majority of routers are dual-band devices, which provides average connection speeds but can still become congested once you start to add a bunch of devices in. Having that extra band will provide you with a congestion-free and more consistent connection, which is super important for those with a lot of devices and smart homes.
There are some differences between tri-band WiFi radios as well, and some of them are designed in order to have a 5GHz radio solely dedicated to the backhaul. This means that there’s an entire frequency used by the router solely to communicate with its satellites – eliminating interference from other devices. One of the best devices when it comes to that dedicated band is the Netgear Orbi, although other models like the Linksys Velop allow the system to dynamically choose a backhaul band which also has its perks. The other tri-band routers generally leave all three bands open for both the clients and the backhaul traffic, such as in the case of the second generation eero router.
Wired Connectivity – While WiFi connectivity is probably going to be the most relevant feature to keep in mind, it’s important that your router have some port for wired connections as well. In many cases, a hardwired connection can provide faster speeds than even the best wireless signal, and this might be important for equipment like gaming PCs where having the best connection really matters.
To put it simply, the more ports you have on your router, the more devices you can connect to the router directly. If having support for hardwired connections is important to you, keep an eye on the ports available while making your decision.
Hardware – The best smart WiFi routers have good underlying hardware. Stronger specs in areas like processors, memory, and storage specs can really go a long way when it comes to getting the best performance out of your WiFi system.
Better specs doesn’t always necessarily equate to a better router overall, but it’s a pretty good indicator in most cases.
Smart Home Support – Smart homes require a really strong WiFi connection in order to function optimally, and having a quality smart WiFi system is a big part of that. When shopping for a router, consider looking for features like Amazon Alexa that make controlling your network a breeze.
Thing to Consider Before Buying a Smart Home WiFi System:
Range – While the majority of smart routers have a range that is suitable for most homes, there are definitely some differences between different models and brands that may make a difference.
For larger homes, having a router that can reach every inch of your property is a must. A lot of smart routers have some pretty incredible reach due to the ability to easily extend their mesh network, but that’s not always the case.
Maximum Number of Units – Since these smart routers generally beam WiFi to a larger distance through the use of additional units placed throughout your home, it’s important to keep in mind the maximum number of units that a router can support. If you’re trying to cover a very large area, your WiFi system will need the capability to expand to meet your needs.
Bridge Mode – For most of us, our smart WiFi router will be replacing our traditional equipment and handling all aspects of the network. However, for one reason or another, there are a lot of people that would like to keep their existing network working as is. Some WiFi routers can work in bridge mode, which allows you to use the mesh network to expand coverage while keeping the WiFi technology on the pre-existing router.
This sort of technology is especially useful for those looking for a router in commercial situations, as oftentimes a business will have WiFi that is configured and customized by an IT team. There are even routers like the Netgear Orbi Pro that start in bridge mode by default since they’re intended exactly for this application.
A lot of routers have the ability to go into bridge mode, but some like the Luma don’t. If you’d like to keep your existing equipment working as is and enhance rather than completely replace, you’ll need to do some research to ensure you end up with a model that works for you.
Parental Control – Some smart routers are better than others when it comes to parental controls. The majority of models have the ability to block adult websites, but routers like the Orbi extend far beyond that functionality with features ranging from setting screen time limits to enforcing tech-free bedtime for your children. If you have a family and want your router to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping your kids safe online, there are certainly routers that do the job better than the rest. Our top pick for parental controls is probably the Netgear Orbi due to the collaboration with Disney on the fully-featured Circle app.
Subscription – Almost all smart routers will work without an additional monthly fee, but some have extra features locked behind a monthly subscription. When comparing the benefits that each router has to offer, keep in mind any additional charges you’ll have to take care of to unlock the full potential of your network.
Dimensions – Last but not least, you’ll want to keep the dimensions of the router in mind. Some systems like the eero are super compact and can fit in pretty much anywhere, while routers like the Orbi are tall towers that are difficult to hide. If you’re concerned about your router sticking out like a sore thumb, there are definitely models that nail the aesthetics and design better than others.
Our Favorite Smart Home WiFi System
There are a lot of different routers on the market, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. With that said, there are definitely some models that stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Our top pick for a smart home WiFi system would have to be the eero. It’s a strong device all around, has a compact design, and is extendable to a huge degree. You can add as many eero units as you’d like to transmit WiFi over an impressive distance.
A solid runner-up would probably the Orbi. This netgear router has far more support for wired connections and has excellent parental control options, but it can only support up to three satellites and one main router — a drawback that knocks it out of the running for the best router overall.
Our top picks are solid systems in every sense of the word, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the absolute best pick for your home. Take a look at our comparison of other options such as the eero vs. Google WiFi or NETGEAR Orbi vs. Google WiFi for a more complete picture of what the market has to offer.
In a modern home, there’s no place for bad WiFi. Whether you’re just hooking up your PC and phone or filling out an entire smart home, a top-notch router can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your home running efficiently.
Say goodbye to dead spots, buffering, and endless reboots with the eero product family. Let’s take a look at the eero vs. eero Pro vs. eero Beacon to figure out which smart WiFi setup is best for your home.
Ditch your old, unreliable router and see what a smart connection is all about. Read on below!
We’re spending more time online than ever before, and internet speeds have steadily increased to match our new online habits. We spend hours streaming on services like Netflix and Spotify, and online gaming has become more prevalent than ever before. Many people don’t realize, though, that an outdated router could be significantly hindering their speeds.
Smart routers have become more and more prevalent, and options like the eero and Orbi offer the ability to beam fast WiFi over your entire home and eliminate pesky deadlines.
Below we go into an in-depth comparison of the eero vs. Orbi. Which smart router is best for your home?
A fast WiFi connection is more important today than ever before. With more content moving to streaming services and smart home technology bursting onto the scene, a strong connection is paramount to keeping your home running efficiently.
Chances are that you have a fast connection from your ISP, but do you have the equipment to back that up? Many homeowners make the mistake of having fast speeds but keeping an old, outdated router in charge of their network. Smart WiFi routers offer a strong connection throughout the entirety of your home as well as a number of convenient and secure features.
Below we compare the Orbi vs. AmpliFi HD — two excellent smart WiFi solutions that can take your network to the next level. Which router is right for you?
Internet speeds continue to increase and our homes are smarter than ever before, but many people are still using an outdated router. Smart routers offer an intelligent solution that will eliminate dead zones in your home and provide a faster and more convenient way to get online.
Replacing a traditional router with a smarter solution can do wonders for your internet browsing and your smart devices alike. Below we take a look at the Ubiquiti AmpliFi vs. Luma and break down where these routers excel and where they fall short.
With how prevalent smart technology has become and streaming content becoming a bigger deal than ever before, it’s important that your connection be reliable and fast. Buying an expensive package from your ISP may give you speedy internet, but you’re holding your network back from its maximum potential if you’re still using an outdated router.
When it comes to internet technology, very few companies do it better than Netgear. Below we take a look at the NETGEAR Orbi vs. Orbi Pro — two smart routers that make dead zones and thing of the past and fill your home with top-tier WiFi.
Having a smart home opens up a whole world of possibility, adding convenience and utility to your daily life. However, a modern smart home requires a modern internet connection, so what are you doing with an outdated router?
Outdated routers have droopy aerials, old firmware that doesn’t protect against hackers, and doesn’t live up to the latest standards. This leads to weak reception that might be enough to run your laptop in the living room, but it won’t be sufficient to connect smart devices across your entire home.
Today we take a look at the eero vs. Luma: the future of smart routers. Which mesh router solution is right for your home? Read on below to find out!