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Riding the new Wi-Fi wave (part 1)

Keith Shaw | July 4, 2016
Luma's wireless mesh system changes the way you'll want to setup your home Wi-Fi network

 Once your network is complete, the app provides a dashboard view that gives you the upload/download speed of the broadband network, and whether the network is up or down. There are also some other awesome features controlled through the app.

Best feature: Pausing the Internet

 First, you can assign devices found on the network to individual users (the app calls them "People"). This is important, because it's required to enact my favorite feature - the "Pause Internet" button. With the press of a button, network access to the Internet is "paused" for any device that is assigned to a Person (luckily, devices not assigned to a person, such as a game console, TV or phone system, will continue to operate).

If you have kids who are constantly using tablets, phones or other devices, this is the fastest way to get their attention. Users are also important for setting up filtering policies, which stops inappropriate content for younger users. It's based on movie ratings (R, PG-13, PG and G, or U for unrestricted access). You can assign a filter to the entire network or for individual users.

 If you have guests over and want to give them access without revealing your Wi-Fi password, pressing the "Invite to Wi-Fi" button and send them a guest password via text message, email, or even AirDrop.

 The system also has some security features - it will "continuously monitor your network to block hacks and malware by scanning the health of your connected devices for infections and vulnerabilities," Luma says.

The system can also quarantine devices so they won't affect other devices on the network, and can even "work to fix the device with an over-the-air update when available." Alerts are sent to the Luma app when unknown devices are found on the network. 

A few nitpicky things

 For users who are experts at Wi-Fi router setup, the Luma system could be seen as "too simple". While the system supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac clients (with simultaneous dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies), you can't set up separate networks like you can with more traditional routers.

Security features supported include NAT, DHCP, PPPoE, VPN passthrough and IPv6, but those settings are invisible to the end user. 

Luma says that a future update will provide some more advanced configuration features for those interested. Most people won't likely care about this, since the goal for probably 95% of users will be network access and Wi-Fi coverage.

 The single Ethernet Out port on each node will also likely cause some network re-adjustment if you have other Ethernet-enabled devices on the network. In our case, we had three additional devices connected to our older router - a network-attached storage device, a powerline adapter (to extend powerline networking to certain devices) and a backup storage device.


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