(Pocket-lint) - There's nothing like a Wi-Fi dropout to hit you off your stride. Whether you're midway through a marathon on Netflix, or you work from home and can't afford to lose connectivity with your office, there's no good time for your network to have a wobble.
We've looked at routers that you might be able to replace your bog-standard one with elsewhere, as a way of getting some extra range and stability, but if you're serious about making a home network that can expand to cover big areas, and doesn't risk flakey connections depending on where you stand, you'll probably want to invest in a mesh Wi-Fi system.
These systems effectively extend and strengthen your home Wi-Fi network, to make sure that it can reach even your most remote corners and provide even coverage throughout your home. Better yet, they're no longer the preserve of IT experts and techies. There are now countless mesh Wi-Fi systems on the market which offer nearly plug-and-play simplicity so that you can reap their benefits without needing a degree in electronics.
With that in mind, we've rounded up the best of the best to create a list of options for you to explore, and choose between if you're thinking of going down the mesh Wi-Fi route.
Our guide to the best mesh network setups to buy today
Google Nest Wifi
It took Google a couple of iterations to perfect its mesh offering, but Nest Wifi is something special. It's supremely easy to set up, and within a few taps on your phone, you'll have a strengthened network that can be extended at will with extenders that also pack smart speaker capabilities and Google Assistant.
The system's design is super clean and anonymous, letting them blend into the background in your home and provide silent benefits, and super parental controls make it perfect for parents. It's not the absolute cheapest on the market by any means, but it's still reasonably priced, and because it's Google you can rely on solid software support for years to come. Sometimes the biggest names know what they're doing, and Google has hit a home run here.
Eero is far from the new kid on the block, but in the last couple of years, its outlook has changed significantly after being bought out by Amazon. Now, after that merger, its first new generation of mesh extenders are as impressive as you'd hope, although they surprisingly don't have Alexa built-in.
These diminutive little extenders are really affordably priced and have that Nest Wifi invisibility factor that will see them blend into the background of your home, quietly ensuring quick networking and easy connections. A great companion app to manage your settings lets you keep in control of everything, and that price means that Eero now offers a superb entry-point to home networking.
Compared to the others on this list, Amplifi's Ubiquiti router offers something a little different, both in how it looks and what that means for the user. A small LCD panel allows you to get some information about your network at a glance — or just works as a digital clock if you prefer.
Its extenders, which are also fairly unique in size and shape, also plug directly into your wall sockets, which could make them perfect or annoying to fit in, depending on the layout of your sockets and furniture. Once you're using the system, though, it's rock-solid, with range that is seriously impressive even under the strain of testing.
The final entry on our shortlist goes to Linksys, with the caveat that its Velop system is really, really expensive but also future-proofed to the nines, specifically in the Wi-Fi 6 department, with which it will be fully compatible.
It could support a maximum throughput speed of 5.3Gps, an almost bafflingly fast rate.
There's really no need at all to worry about not having Wi-Fi 6 compatibility unless you're looking to cover an enormous property and insist on having the fastest speeds technically possible, but if you do want it then Linksys' Velop system offers a solution. It's also easy-to-use and modular enough to suit smaller or larger homes.
Netgear Orbi Voice
Netgear's Orbi line has been doing the business in the mesh networking world for some time, and its latest iteration is evidence of that experience. Adding Amazon's Alexa to the mix just like Google has its Assistant, and the sound quality of the built-in speaker is hugely impressive.
The system is a premium one, with high prices and great features, including a weatherproof Outdoor Satellite that could be a godsend if you want signal down the end of a garden. The depth of control that you can exert, compared to Google's simplicity, makes Orbi a super powerful system for those who want more input on their Wi-Fi network, but you'll have to pay for the privilege.
Of course, if voice assistants and speakers don't matter to you in the context of a home network, other versions of the system are available and are just as impressive.