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The wireless router reinvented: Eero brings mesh networking to consumer Wi-Fi

Michael Brown | Feb. 4, 2015
With the financial backing of some of Silicon Valley’s heavy hitters, this startup could succeed where so many have failed.

About that hardware
Each Eero is outfitted with two Wi-Fi radios, Bluetooth 4.0 with Bluetooth Low Energy, a 1.0GHz dual-core processor (Weaver declined to disclose which one, other than to say it's an ARM variant), 512MB of memory, and 1GB of flash storage. Router nerds might be disappointed to learn that the Eero has only two auto-configuring gigabit Ethernet ports (one to connect to your Internet gateway) and only one USB port (and that's USB 2.0).

Fred Bould, famous for designing the Nest thermostat, designed the Eero's enclosure, and it's quite small: 4.75 inches square and 1.26 inches high, tapering to 0.85 inches high. The router's custom-designed antennas are hidden inside the enclosure, and one gets the sense that the Eero team doesn't want its pretty router festooned with cables.

In all likelihood, Eero is using the same--or very similar--hardware as Netgear, Linksys, D-Link, and many other router manufacturers are using. So how is Eero able to operate a mesh network with it? Weaver tells me it's because his team wrote every bit of software--the firmware, the device drivers, the quality-of-service instruction set, the parental controls, and the Android and iOS apps--from scratch.

Mesh networks must be self healing, but the Eero appears to go beyond that. Weaver said it runs regular self-diagnostics, automatically checks for and installs firmware updates, and will even reboot itself if necessary. The router will also send you an alert each time a new device joins your network, and it will send you a weekly network activity report. I would have liked to share some screenshots of this software in action, but Weaver says the company isn't quite ready for that.

Getting ready for retail
Weaver told me we'll get a set of Eeros for testing later this spring. If you want to take a leap of faith--as well as take advantage of the early-bird pricing the company is offering--you can preorder them today: $299 for a three pack or $125 for a single unit. Those are significant discounts from the regular prices of $499 and $199 respectively.

The company is taking preorders now so management can determine how large its first manufacturing run should be. The Eero will ship sometime in "the early summer."

That's right: This isn't a pie-in-the-sky crowd-funded product that won't reach the market for a year or more. The wisdom of the crowd can be a powerful thing, and crowd-funding has delivered some awesome products. But it's easy to make big--and sometimes unrealistic--promises to people who are investing just a few bucks each. All three of the company's founders hail from Stanford, and the university joined several Valley venture-capital firms--including First Round Capital, Menlo Ventures, and AME Cloud Ventures--as early backers. I have to believe VCs are much more rigorous when it comes to due diligence. 

 

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