Luma: Surround WiFi – Review


As some of you know, I run a local VMWare ESXi server at home. This server hosts 4 essential VMs, including my Windows 10 Plex Server and an Ubuntu 16.04 server with a full LAMP stack configured to route traffic internally to various resources including media, books, Nest Admin Control panel, etc. For years I have used Asus Routers without fail and they have been my favorite home wireless networking solution because of the coverage and granular control offered through the Asus-ified DD-WRT firmware. However, when I bought my house 2 years ago, I noticed I needed to use a range extender to push the WiFi to my master bedroom. This adjustment worked well for awhile, but after about a year my Asus RT-N66u router's 2.4GHz band failed and my wireless signal was horrible throughout the entire house. I quickly replaced it with an Asus RT-AC68P and continued to use the range extender, but I noticed degradation in the signal the more devices I had on my network. By the beginning of this year, I had to disable wifi on my iPhone when in my master bedroom as nothing would load when connected to my home network. I began researching different wireless solutions and came across Ubiquiti and Eero. Both looked promising, but the reviews were still inconsitent as far as how reliable each offering would be. Still, the discovery of "surround wifi" was intriguing so I did more research; this lead to my discovery of Luma.

Luma looked like a simpler version of Eero and was still being designed as of April of this year. Most of the reviews I read were very hopeful and everything sounded like this would be the product that could finally solve my master bedroom deadzone issue, as well as improve the weak signal in other areas of the home. The only catch was I had to wait until July to receive the product, which was okay with me. I pre-ordered Luma on Amazon at the special pre-order price and anxiously awaited for my wireless home environment to simply work.

Finally, I got my hands on a 3 pack Luma in the very beginning of August and I rushed to set it up. I quickly disconnected my existing infrastructure, downloaded the necessary Luma app on my iPhone and began the installation process. First off, Luma is completely controlled by an iPhone or Android app - there is no web interface at this time.

The installation process involves setting up each "node" in various parts of your house, which the app will suggest; this ensures there are no dead zones, thus creating your "surround wifi" mesh network. The entire install process to get my SSID configured took about 5 minutes, however, I did run into additional issues. First, the LAN address pool is unconfigurable and by default is 192.168.55.x. For me, since I have existing systems (physical and virtual) in my home with static IPs, I had to run around and reconfigure everything, including my ESXi server. Next, since I have a Linux machine use a .conf file to route traffic internally, I needed to configure Port Forwarding...which didn't exist at the time. Pretty much, at the beginning of August, all I could do was set an SSID name and password to my wifi and not much else. This wasn't looking too good. I quickly contacted the company and discovered their customer service is AWESOME. After some brief introductions, I had the unique opportunity to offer feedback on the product and my experience with its [at the time] current configuration. Luma assured me Port Forwarding was a top priority for their offering and kept me in the loop for additional OTA (over the air) firmware updates. Within 1 week, I had port forwarding; within 2 weeks, I had the ability to rename devices on my network; within 3 weeks, I could pause the internet per user; and within 4 weeks, I could prioritize devices. The best part is, because the updates are OTA, I don't have to remember to login to my router to update anything. After the update is pushed to my Lumas, I simply update the local app on my iPhone and I can access said new features. This company, because it is so new, is able to take direct feedback from its customers and use it to drive new features in their product. Initially, I was disappointed the features I looked forward to weren't included at launch, however after using Luma for a little over 2 months now, I can honestly say it's the best wireless solution I have had in my home. I finally get wireless in every inch of my house, and I don't have anymore degradation in signal quality. There are still areas for improvement, which Luma is aware of, but unlike other companies who may be "aware," but take months to implement updates, Luma is actively and regularly addressing these areas. Example: As of Nov. 7th, 2016, Luma is now integrated with Amazon's Alexa and as of Nov. 11th, 2016, they introduced new bedtime rules and added additional security details.

One of the coolest features I found was the ability to access your router's control panel from anywhere. For instance, I was out at lunch a few weeks ago with my cousin and I was telling him about my Plex Media Server. I had recently rebuilt the VM and assigned a new static IP, but I forgot to open the port for the app. While at lunch, I was able open the Luma app, touch the device (Plex VM), and open a port in less than 10 seconds!

I plan to continue to write updates on their product as new features are released, as well as update this post when a summary of their release history is published on their blog, but in the meantime, if you are using Luma and have some feedback, please leave it below. If you're curious, you can order a set for yourself here.


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