Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Luma WiFi - 2 Weeks Using It

If you've been following this blog you know that I got my Luma WiFi system a couple of weeks ago, and have been using it exclusively ever since.

I have to say I am loving the experience, my WiFi has never been close to this fast. Throughout most of the house the speeds are amazing.

It's enhanced the performance of my Amazon FireTV boxes incredibly, buffering seems to be a thing of the past. Streaming music is snappy, and of course gaming and web surfing on the various laptops, tablets, and phones is a great experience.

Today Luma rolled out three improvements to their app. While the Eero crowd might say "Hey, we did that first!" I'd respond "Not much earlier."  It's important to remember Eero costs $100 more, has had longer to work on their software, and doesn't support MU-MIMO.

Here are the improvements:

1) You can now limit the amount of time individual people spend online. You want to tell your kids they can only spend 3hrs a day playing Minecraft? It's now a quick setting inside their profile to say how much time they get, after that their devices are offline until the next day. Each profile can have it's own settings so you can custom tailor your controls to your family's needs.

2) You can now pause individual people's internet connections. Need to get the kids off Facebook for dinner but you need to still do some work? No problem, it's no longer an "all or nothing" setting, you can pause individual profiles with the tap of a button.

3) You can rename devices in the app. This was a big one for me, some of the cryptic names the devices broadcast themselves as are almost impossible to decipher. It's much easier now to use a friendlier name like "Jane's iPad" when you want to manage devices and profiles.

These are all great steps in the right direction for Luma, and it shows that the product will continue to improve and evolve over time.

There were a couple of challenges I found along the road, and I wanted to share what they were, as well as how to resolve them.

1) When you install Luma you do not get the option to set what DNS servers to use. 

This is only an issue if you're using a smart DNS service like Getflix to watch video content that isn't normally available in your country.

I tried putting my old router back in-line between my internet service provider's (ISP's) modem and the Luma so I could work around the issue but the network began experiencing problems so I took it out again.

Later I switched my ISP's modem out of bridge mode and assigned the DNS servers there. It all started working as it should, I was suddenly able to watch Amazon Prime video whenever I wanted. This would be my suggested workaround for anyone experiencing a similar challenge.

The problem I experienced using my original router was possibly due to running DD-WRT as the operating system instead of the manufacturer's OS, or it could be an issue with the particular hardware in my router. Either way it's not an issue any more.

 After this I did notice the Luma app started reporting my download speeds as being less than half of what I was expecting, but when I ran speed tests from the actual devices the speeds were what they should be. I suspect this is just a small reporting bug in the app's calculations and believe it will be corrected in the future. The important thing is my speed wasn't negatively impacted, so it's a cosmetic issue rather than a substantial one.

2) When adding a device using WiFi from a Samsung phone you get an error message. 

This one actually rests on Samsung instead of Luma. When you set up a Luma over WiFi instead of bluetooth it creates a temporary network so your phone or tablet can talk to it for configuration. Obviously this temporary network has no internet connection, it just exists between the new Luma and your phone/tablet.

Samsung's "Smart Switch" technology will pop a warning when you connect to the temporary network saying it has no internet and it will always continue to connect to this network in the future.

Sounds dire, right? I thought so too originally and hit "Cancel". That was a mistake. The temporary network is temporary, it vanishes once the Luma is set up, so you need to hit the "connect anyway" button.

Once I figured that out I had no other issues getting my Luma units up and running. If you're not using a Samsung phone/tablet you shouldn't experience this issue, but given the market share of Samsung it's worth mentioning.

Those are the highlights so far. Overall it's been a great experience, my WiFi is fast & reliable. I've had no complaints from anyone of problems, and the increased speed was welcome. In other words, it just works.

If anyone has any questions or comments please leave them below, I'm happy to discuss my experience, and will post updates when they become available.

Happy surfing!

-The Home Geek




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