Plume SuperPods with Wi-Fi 6 review: Adaptive cloud mesh

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Most people prefer not be bothered with device configuration, bands and channels, or the deeper intricacies of Wi-Fi. They just want fast, reliable connections at home. Plume’s SuperPods are a plug-and-play mesh system that anyone can set up and use with a simple mobile app.

Just because Plume’s SuperPods are simple to use doesn’t mean they lack top-notch features or performance. There’s built-in cybersecurity and parental controls, with automatic cloud-managed optimization. You also get some cool extras like ad blocking and motion detection.

In testing over the past few weeks, I’ve found Plume to be a nifty system with a lot to recommend, but (and it’s a big but) the SuperPods with Wi-Fi 6 cost $159 each. Most homes will want three, which costs $477, and you need a HomePass subscription for $99 per year. This makes Plume significantly more expensive than any of the best mesh systems or Wi-Fi routers we recommend.

set and forget

Each Plume SuperPod plugs directly into a power outlet (no cables) and features a sleek silver hexagonal design that sits discreetly. Do you hate ugly routers bristling with antennas? You will appreciate the look of Plume. Plug your incoming internet connection into the main router and place identical nodes (each has two gigabit ethernet ports). The company suggests that three SuperPods are enough for an average home (it was enough for my 1,600 square foot two-story home).

Setup is a breeze in the HomePass app. Within minutes, I had my house covered. The only potential problem is finding convenient power outlets. I have used extensions and power strips for a few of my SuperPods. But since they’re bulky, it can be difficult to plug anything in right next to the SuperPod.

The HomePass mobile app is easy to use for everyone. It tracks the internet speed you get from your provider and shows a connectivity map for SuperPods and connected devices. You can create individual profiles and set content filters for children. You can also assign primary devices, like a smartphone, to each person in the household to know when they’re home. If you want to schedule internet downtime, you can do it per device, which provides great flexibility.

Performance is excellent, with fast Wi-Fi speeds and reliable connections. We had no issues with multiple simultaneous video streams and gaming sessions. In a room containing a SuperPod, Plume’s system performed as well as any I’ve tested, including the Asus ZenWiFi AX XT8, my current top pick. Where the XT8 took the lead was in long-range performance. In the garden or a few rooms away, the SuperPods were slower. A trio of SuperPods have served my home and garden well, but folks with larger properties may need more.

Comprehensive security blocks malware, keyloggers, phishing attempts and other unwanted intrusions. There’s also optional ad blocking, which worked well in my testing.

Something I haven’t seen before is Plume’s motion detection, which uses the analysis it already does on the radio frequency waves bouncing around your home to determine when there’s a motion the size of your home. ‘a person. It can signal your kids getting up at night, an intruder in the house when you’re on vacation, or help discreetly track an elderly relative (more private than a camera). My cats did not trigger it. You can also enable motion alerts and view a graph showing movement in the home over the past seven days.

The cloud model

Plume started out as a software company focused on moving network optimization and management to the cloud. But the major router manufacturers moved on, so he started making his own hardware. While most routers receive infrequent firmware updates, with support waning after a few years, algorithm and firmware updates automatically roll out to Plume systems every three weeks. This process is a minor pain with the Asus XT8, where you have to trigger the firmware installation, which sometimes fails, and then restart your system.

By monitoring the quality of your experience for all access points and connected devices, Plume also constantly modifies your system topology to optimize your Wi-Fi connections. Suppose, for example, that your neighbor comes home and starts to watch tons of YouTube and creates interference for you. Plume will switch channels to make sure all your devices are on the best connection. Many routers have an auto-scan feature that claims to do this, but in practice they rarely scan and make changes.

With Plume, you may need to update your hardware every few years, but your settings and history persist. Much of the value is not the hardware, but the bespoke cloud intelligence and the expectation of constant improvements and new features.

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