Ah, WiFi, its everywhere. While WiFi is nothing new, the technology that gives us our precious WiFi is always changing. Gone are the days of just A/B/C routers that give us our internet to our computers, laptops, tablets and phones. Currently my WiFi setup is pretty simple, its a router and a cable modem as two separate devices (I currently own both and do not pay to rent). My current house is about 1000 square feet, 1 floor. I have a now discontinued Apple Airport Express router that has shown its aged. I have Comcast for internet with speeds of just about 100 Mbps. The problem I currently have is my range of the Airport sucks. Since it stop getting regular updates, its been lacking. I have tried changing the settings multiple times but it seems that even thought my router is in the middle, I barely get a signal like 25 feet away in a room. Forget getting a signal outside. So I thought, well its time to upgrade. Two main reasons for me to upgrade were that I wanted to have no dead spots in my house, and two, that I wanted to have some WiFi outside so I can stream music and or movies when we have parties in the summer and stream movies on our projector.
Now comes the hard part, what do I get. Do I go traditional or do I go with the Mesh router that’s the current trend? I looked at a few options from all the major players. I didn’t need anything complex of that of the Nighthawk series or those gaming routes. After some research, I thought I try to go the mesh route.
What is the difference between a traditional router or a mesh router?
A traditional router pretty much loses signal strength as you move away from them where a mesh router uses the power of multiple wireless networks to provide an experience that is the same no matter which room your in or how far you are from the wireless point (think no more lets put it in the middle of the house). Let us be clear – a mesh network is not a silver bullet – and consumers are able to have a decrease in speed with every so-called hop. So it is not perfect but it is still better having a slower experience than nothing that would have occurred with a traditional router.
Mesh routers obviously work better in pairs when you need more consistent coverage. Even though mesh routers are meant for larger areas, I think they work just fine no matter your size of house.
After my research, there were 3 possibilities, Google Wifi, Netgear’s Orbi and the TP-Link Deco. After reading some good reviews, I decided on the Orbi for two reasons. One it was under $200, and two it had the Circle by Disney. If you look at my other post, I am a huge fan of Circle by Disney. Since it was now integrated I thought why not. Setup was pretty straight forward. Its all app based which is good, you don’t need a computer for setup. After the setup, I went into getting the Circle hooked up and boy was I surprised. The integrated Circle was not what I had using the standalone product. It was very limit in function. All it did was just show what people were doing. You could not set limits, profiles, nothing. In order to have these functions I was so used to, you had to subscribe. It’s interesting because the original Circle by Disney, you bought the device for $99 ($79) on sale and you setup everyone and boom, done. You can manage everyone without paying any subscription service. I was pretty bummed, I really didn’t want to pay for a subscription on something that was already working. Also, for some reason I had some inconsistency with drop outs and poor signals.
So after about 4 days, I decided I was done. I went back to Walmart and exchanged it. Now, what was I to get in its place. It was a toss between the Google setup and the TP-Link. Google’s was $100 for 1 mesh router and the TP-Link was $99 as well but you got two units. Even though Google was stepping up its game in the WiFi arena, I ultimately went with the TP-Link based on the reviews I read and the value you were getting for the same price as the Google Mesh.
Right now the TP-Link Deco mesh router is available at Walmart for $89.99. Click here and get yours. I have had the TP Link for over 4 months now and can honestly say, besides the old Apple Airport, these routers have lived up to the many reviews out there. The performance has been great. I have only had to reset them twice but that was because of Comcast internet. Setup was quick and app management is simple enough for the none tech savy person.
The 3 benefits of choosing a mesh router system are that its easy to manage, the connections are more streamline, and the security features they offer allow for a peace of mind. Overall, if you are looking to upgrade your wifi system in your house. Look into seeing if a mesh router system will work for you. At least you now have an honest opinion from someone who has tried two of the major ones out there today.