The mesh router trend shows no signs of cooling. And understandably so - mesh routers promise to eliminate a common complaint among home users, which is Wi-Fi blind spots. It is as simple as distributing each mesh router - typically sold as a pair or trio - throughout the home to solve Wi-Fi issues.
The latest model to arrive here is the Asus Lyra Trio, a cheaper variant of last year's Lyra. The key difference: The Trio lacks its predecessor's dedicated wireless band for communication between each unit, which may lower its performance.
On the other hand, the Trio's units can transmit data to each other via Ethernet cable (wired backhaul). This is useful if your home has been wired with Ethernet cables and LAN points.
Also notable is the Trio's unique design. Its antennas are angled and raised above its main body, which Asus says will ensure the best possible Wi-Fi signal, especially for multi-storey homes.
To me, it looks like an odd, triangular iron. Or a handgrip if you mount it to the wall. But in practical terms, it is similar to the Lyra, with two Ethernet ports at the back and flashing LED status indicators.
PRICE: $199 (single), $329 (2-pack), $459 (3-pack)
ETHERNET INTERFACE: 2 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN
SECURITY: WPA2, WEP, NAT
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
More importantly, it is easy to set up the Lyra Trio. All you need is the Asus Lyra app (for iOS and Android) on a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and you should have Internet access in 10 minutes or less.
In fact, this Lyra app is one of the best in the market. It does not overwhelm users with too much information on its home screen. Yet, it has enough advanced options that most users should not need to use the more comprehensive browser interface .
I can monitor the home network using the app even while I am out. For instance, I can check if my kid has been spending too much time online and cut off Internet access to her device with the press of a button.
Its performance is slightly weaker than the Lyra. The Trio managed speeds of around 180Mbps in my usual download speed test, compared with 220Mbps for the Lyra. The best mesh routers I have tried could hit around 400Mbps, though most top out at 300Mbps.
It takes a further performance hit if you enable its integrated Trend Micro security software, with download speeds at around 160Mbps. But the difference is slight enough that I would recommend turning on the security feature, which claims to block spam and malware, as well as quarantine infected devices on the network.
Up to five Lyra Trio units can be linked in a home network, though Asus says that two units are adequate for a mid-sized home (up to 3,600 sq ft). Unlike the Lyra, which is sold in a pack of three, the Trio, despite its name, is available as a single unit, two-pack or three-pack. If you already have older Lyra units, they can work together with the Trio units in the same mesh network.
• Verdict: The Lyra Trio is more affordable than its predecessor and is just as easy to use. It also has more advanced features than other competitors, albeit via its Web interface.