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The 10 Best Mesh Wi-Fi Routers of 2024

The 10 Best Mesh Wi-Fi Routers of 2024

The mobile app has a wealth of options, and the web interface is even more in-depth. It’s easy to split bands or set up a guest network. I also found that the app recognized most devices correctly (sometimes, it’s difficult to identify devices from the attributed hardware names in router apps). And there’s support for AiMesh, which means you can easily add other Asus routers to expand your Wi-Fi system. The dedicated backhaul channel, the way the router speaks to its nodes and vice versa, is extremely fast, ensuring you get the full speed of your internet connection even from that node you placed near the backyard.

On the downside, my XT8 node initially refused to update its firmware, which took a couple of attempts to fix. I also had an issue with my Sonos speakers disappearing, but resolved it with a factory reset. Overall, using the XT8 has been a smooth experience. It’s easy enough for just about anyone to operate, but the depth of options will satisfy power users.

Best Budget Mesh Router

This affordable Wi-Fi 6 package folds in parental controls and antivirus protection while delivering decent coverage and performance, making it ideal for an average family home. I tested the AX1800 3-pack, and it was very easy to set ’em all up. The three routers are quite small and sport a cylinder design that blends in well. This is a dual-band system (2.4-GHz and 5-GHz). There are two gigabit Ethernet ports on each router.

Coverage and speeds are OK, falling well short of the Asus XT8 but beating the Eero 6 (below). The app is straightforward, and it’s easy to set up a guest network. TP-Link’s HomeCare is free, and it enables antivirus protection powered by Trend Micro and robust parental controls. It’s a breeze to set up profiles with time limits and scheduled bedtimes, there are basic filters by age, and you can review activity on both the app and website.

The Quality of Service feature lets you prioritize activities like gaming or streaming or set priority devices. Importantly, you can split the 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz bands to show as two separate Wi-Fi networks. This is handy, as some smart home devices only operate on the former band. Similarly, there’s a mixed mode for WPA2 and WPA3 security. Only a few devices work with the newer WPA3 standard, and some routers force you to choose one or the other, which can lead to issues. This mode ensures all your gadgets are on a compatible standard.

The web interface is basic and doesn’t add much, so I preferred using the easy-to-use app. However, it’s a little slow to update, and settings are still limited. It didn’t recognize many devices and listed obscure hardware manufacturer names, making it tough to figure out which devices to add to my kid’s profiles.

It wasn’t the speediest performer, but this system is fast and dependable enough for the average home. If you have a connection that’s 500 Mbps or better, it might be worth upgrading to the Deco X60 AX3000.

Best for Smart Homes

Amazon’s Eero 6 mesh system is one of the easiest to set up, offers fairly wide coverage, and delivers stable connectivity. It’s an elegant system, available as three identical routers or (a bit cheaper) as a main router and two small nodes. The Eeros blend in on a table or shelf, though the compact design leaves no room for any ports. (There are just two gigabit ports on the routers and none on the nodes.)

Although the basic Eero 6 was one of the slower systems I tested, particularly at longer distances, the speeds from the nodes were close to what I got from the main router. There were no drops, and it proved adept at sharing limited bandwidth. The mobile app is straightforward, giving you an overview of connected devices with the option to pause the internet and set up a guest network. I was also able to create profiles, group devices, set schedules, and fix bedtimes. Unfortunately, content filtering, other parental controls, advanced security, ad blocking, and activity insights require an Eero Plus subscription at $10 per month or $100 per year.

11 Best Smart Bulbs (2024): Lamp Bulbs, Ambient, Color, Etc

11 Best Smart Bulbs (2024): Lamp Bulbs, Ambient, Color, Etc

Remember the allure of the Clapper? No more getting out of bed to hit the light switch! It seemed cutting edge at the time (you can still buy it), but technology has come a long way since then. Now you can control the lights, set timers and schedules, and change colors with your smartphone or your voice if you have a voice assistant—no clapping required.

Smart bulbs are a great place to start when creating a smart home. Most options are relatively cheap, they’re easy to install, and they’re something you use everyday already. Plus, there are no cameras or door locks for someone to hack into, and no wiring to mess with. Do you want to try voice controls? Consider getting a smart speaker or smart display, but you can always use the smart bulb’s app. Of the dozens we’ve tested over the years, these are the best smart bulbs.

Updated February 2024: We’ve added new testing notes on bulbs from Nanoleaf, Philips Wiz, and Philips Hue.

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6 Best Smart Shades, Blinds, and Curtains (2023)

6 Best Smart Shades, Blinds, and Curtains (2023)

Inside or Outside Mount: For the cleanest look, you should install your shades or blinds in the window frame. Measure the depth and account for window handles or anything else that might collide with the shade. Think about where you can drill holes to fit the mounting brackets and whether your chosen spot can handle the weight of a shade. An outside mount doesn’t look as good, but it is easier to install and can cover the window completely to block more light. Inside-mounted shades always have small gaps that light can get through. If you are after a pitch-dark bedroom, combining inside mount shades with curtains is the best way to go.

Material and Finish: You can get shades and blinds in so many different styles. Take your time choosing the material and color you want and think about the opacity. If you just want a privacy shade for a street-facing living room, then choose something that lets a lot of light through. If you’re trying to conserve or block heat or reduce noise, a thicker shade can help. For the neatest look, it’s worth thinking about a valance that will cover the top of the shade (most manufacturers offer these as an added extra).

Power: Smart shades and retrofit smart blinds and curtains all require power. Most come with a rechargeable battery and they can generally be charged in situ with a long enough cable (if you don’t have an outlet close, use a power bank). Some shades take standard batteries you can swap in and out, though we recommend rechargeable batteries for these. Small solar panels are another common option that will keep your shades topped up, but you might not like how they look from the outside. In any case, always fully charge the battery before installation.

Connectivity: Most shades come with a remote control. But to put the smart in smart shades you need a hub that your shades can connect to. This will allow you to control the shades from your phone or using voice commands. Think about your current smart home setup and preferred voice assistant when you are shopping for shades to ensure compatibility. You can sometimes connect to shades via Bluetooth, but it is flaky, low range, and slow compared to Wi-Fi or Zigbee.

Automation: The number one reason to get smart shades is automation, so make sure you research what is possible when shopping. While any smart shade can be automated to open and close at set times, some can adjust to close at sunset and open at sunrise. You can also have motion sensors to trigger some shades to open when you walk into the room in the morning, or have your shades close automatically when a certain temperature is reached in the room. You may need some extra gadgets for more complex automation.

5 Best Nanoleaf Smart Lights (2023): Shapes, 4D Kit, and Installation Tips

5 Best Nanoleaf Smart Lights (2023): Shapes, 4D Kit, and Installation Tips

Here are some tips and tricks we’ve learned from testing Nanoleaf products over the years,

Prepare before you install. Decide and map out what you want to do in advance. Nanoleaf’s lights attach to the wall with adhesive, so it’s possible to remove them without taking the paint off, but it’s easier to have your design already planned and set. Be sure to use a level to make sure they’re straight, since the geometric shapes will make it obvious if they aren’t.

Plan for power. Don’t just plan your design, but make sure your panels will end close enough to an outlet. You can also try to design your lights to hide the power cord behind something, like a nearby bookshelf or plant.

Scheduling ability might vary. If you’re using the Essentials bulbs, you can only set up schedules with Apple HomeKit or Google Assistant.

You’ll need the Alexa Skill. If you’re an Alexa user, some smart devices can easily connect with your Alexa speakers, but you’ll need to add the Nanoleaf Skill to start using your Nanoleaf lights. (Even after adding it, I found it didn’t work 100 percent of the time.)

Be careful where you click in the app. In the app, your Nanoleaf products will be listed by room, and they pop up as little squares with an icon and the name of the product. You need to click on the written name to go into the device and peruse the colors, scenes, and other options (like 4D if you’re using the 4D Kit) for the specific product. If you click anywhere else on the product’s box, you’ll just turn the device on and off over and over.

Find more color options. The app includes a variety of scenes you can use, but you can click on the Discover tab—a cloud and downward arrow symbol—to find more lighting designs and download them onto your app.

7 Best Cordless Vacuums (2023): For Carpet, Hardwood, and Hard-to-Reach Areas

7 Best Cordless Vacuums (2023): For Carpet, Hardwood, and Hard-to-Reach Areas

We haven’t tried a vacuum yet that we absolutely hate. These ones below are solid vacuums, and in some cases are much cheaper than our top picks, but we didn’t like them as much.

Levoit VortexIQ 40 Cordless Stick Vacuum for $230: This used to be our budgetish pick. It’s still a solid vacuum, but stock is becoming limited. With a few passes, it sucked away all the hair, cat litter, and Cheerios I laid out for it. I like its auto mode, which adjusts the power as needed, like when I went over a patch of litter and it jumped to high suction and then dropped back down again. It can also turn into a capable hand vac like some pricier vacs.

LG CordZero All in One Cordless Stick Vacuum for $999: The LG CordZero is a great vacuum, and I could hear it sucking up dirt from the carpet even after using another vacuum over it. It has nice features like a stand that auto-empties the dirt basket and charges it. That stand also holds the attachments, which include a mop head. If you have money to blow, you’ll probably like this, but I don’t think any stick vacuum is worth $999.

Eureka Innova Cordless Stick Multi-Surface Vacuum for $229: This is a good stick vacuum at a reasonable price. It cleaned up my litter mat especially well, and there are specific carpet and hardwood settings. However, to suck up larger pieces like Cheerios, I had to lift the vacuum up and place it directly on top of them.

Shark Wandvac Self-Empty Cordless Vacuum for $330: I love that this turns into a little hand vac with its own small attachments. It worked well for cleaning my desk. It has a base that automatically collects the dirt from the dust bin, meaning there are fewer dust clouds you have to breathe in. I liked cleaning with it, but it’s probably best used with a powerful upright vacuum, as its suction power isn’t as strong as I’d like. It also feels like it needs to be just an inch or two taller, and the dustbin is small at just 0.13 quarts. If you don’t care for the self-emptying bin, the Wadvac Pet System ($200) works the same without the base.

Hoover OnePwr Emerge Pet for $330: Though the name is similar to the Hoover above, this is a different version. It’s a traditional stick vacuum and comes with attachments, but our tester says they felt flimsy, and the suction power is weak when you have the attachments on. Otherwise it got the job done, but you might be better off waiting for a more powerful vac like the Dyson V10 to go on sale.