Eero has created some buzz and positive reviews in taking on more traditional router companies with its full-home Wi-Fi product, and now another company, Plume, is joining in — only there ‘s no router involved. Plume’s system is set to launch this fall, and instead of one router, or numerous boxes placed throughout the home like Eero, Plume’s approach is based on $49 “Pods” ($39 during the presale period) that plug into a power outlet in every room where you’ll be needing Wi-Fi. They’re basically little access points, but Plume claims to have developed a pretty intelligent system around them.
Setup takes about two minutes using Plume’s app, with these Pods communicating with the Plume Cloud to deliver “coverage, speed, and reliability far beyond any other solution,” the company claims in its press release. You’ll just the Plume app on your smartphone to control everything and invite guests onto the network. Like Eero.
Underneath everything is what Plume describes as Adaptive Wi-Fi, “a deeply distributed, whole-home Wi-Fi solution that dynamically responds to varying Wi-Fi conditions.” That sounds pretty similar to the mesh network that Eero creates, to me. The Plume system looks for interference and is constantly making whatever changes are necessary to keep all of your devices connected at top speed. If a particular device needs priority (say, if you’re streaming 4K), the system is supposed to provide it automatically. Again, that’s not entirely revelatory; my Google OnHub does the same sort of thing.
And that’s the challenge that companies like Plume will continue to face. By and large, most consumers are still going to buy a $99 or $150 router at Best Buy and be done with it — even if frustrations pop up here and there. But Eero has managed to make an in, and now Plume is hoping to make a name of its own. Due to timing constraints, I didn’t have a chance to test out Plume’s setup directly. But for $39, you could probably at least try it out in one or two rooms to see if there’s promise.
Published in The Verge.