What are the best mesh network kits?

Mesh Wi-Fi kits are becoming popular for people who are sick of dead spots in their network coverage. Whether you have a large home or a small place with thick walls, grabbing one of these kits can alleviate a poor signal. The idea is simple — connect a few satellite Wi-Fi points to the main point and spread out the signal evenly around your house.

Why not just grab an extender or a powerful router? You certainly can, but extenders don't usually work in unison, and powerful routers can be just as expensive as one of these mesh kits.

If you're interested in setting up a mesh network, here are the standouts of the current mesh network kits on offer.

NETGEAR Orbi

NETGEAR Orbi

Unlike the other mesh network kits that use a mobile app for configuration, Orbi takes advantage of the same solid method that the NETGEAR Nighthawk routers use — you don't need an internet connection to get inside your Orbi and change a wide variety of settings, nor must you rely on an Android or iPhone app.

You get tri-band Wi-Fi, MU-MIMO connectivity, and a ton of Ethernet ports on each unit. Each Orbi Wi-Fi point is good for up to about 2000 square feet, meaning the two-pack at about $400 is good for a total of 4000 square feet.

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Luma

Luma

Available in one-, two-, and three-pack kits, the Luma mesh network is one of the cheaper options at $150 for a single Wi-Fi point and about $300 for a three-pack. You get MU-MIMO connectivity, malware protection, Alexa integration, time limits, content filtering, and device prioritization here, which makes it one of the most feature-laden mesh kits you can get today.

Unfortunately, there is still no Windows Mobile support — you must get the Android or iPhone app to use it. Despite this, Luma is a great option and is available in four different colors: white, black, gray, and orange.

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Google Wifi

Google Wifi

Google Wifi is simple to set up and does exactly what is advertised. Just grab the app on your Android or iPhone, plug the Wi-Fi point in, and you're pretty much good to go. You can see all devices connected to the network, you can prioritize certain devices — gamers love this — and you can even block access to others. Google Wifi will automatically select the clearest channel and will take the fastest band depending on each individual device. MU-MIMO connectivity included? You bet.

A single Wi-Fi point costs about $160 and covers about 1500 square feet, while the three-pack costs about $370 and covers 4500 square feet. If you need to cover a larger area, you can always add more Wi-Fi points to your setup.

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eero

eero

The co-founder of eero was sick of troubleshooting his family's Wi-Fi, and so this mesh networking kit was born. Plug one small, flat Wi-Fi point into the network with an Ethernet cable, then simply give the other two points power from a wall outlet. Grab the app on your Android or iPhone and keep track of which devices are connected and how fast their connections really are.

A single unit costs about $190 and covers about 1000 square feet, while a three-pack costs about $450 and covers about 3000 square feet. Love using Alexa? This mesh kit is now compatible with Alexa Skills.

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Plume

Plume

Plume has taken the minimalist approach with their Wi-Fi points, offering their small, sleek pods in three colors: champagne, silver, or onyx. These pods plug straight into your outlet and remain there (sort of like an air freshener), but only take up one outlet because of their size.

While other mesh networking kits take more of a less-but-strong approach, you can get six Plume pods for about $330. While these pods don't send out as strong of a signal, the sheer number of them makes up for the lack of range. Settings things up and tweaking configurations currently requires an Android or iPhone app.

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AmpliFi HD

AmpliFi HD

The AmpliFi HD mesh kit is a system that is incredibly easy to set up — hook the router up to Ethernet and plug your Wi-Fi points into a wall outlet. That's it. The router has an LCD touchscreen on it where you can monitor what's happening on your network, and both Wi-Fi points are designed to plug in and swivel around to fit most tight spots.

Use your web browser or Android or iOS app to set everything up in just a few seconds, then track your network's performance and set parental controls. All in all, this is an attractive package that will blanket most people's homes in Wi-Fi. Need extra Wi-Fi points? You can grab them straight from the AmpliFi website.

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