Wireless routers are the most necessary but least-loved gadget that everyone has to buy. It’s difficult to make a light-up internet box interesting, but that’s what a new startup has tried to do with its Luma router system, which is finally available to buy.
The concept behind Luma is pretty simple. Using, ideally, a couple of routers (the company sells a three-pack for $399), you get seamless coverage over an entire house. Setup and network control is supposed to be made easy through an app, although the strict parental control features can border on the outright creepy.
Altogether, it sounds like a convincing package. But $400 is a steep price for an accessory, all things considered. Is it really worth it?
The concept of using multiple routers to create one big Wi-Fi network is nothing new, of course. Commercial networks do it all the time, and with a little know-how and two routers, you can even do it at home.
But what Luma is promising is simplicity — additional access points are detected and added to the network without any messing with DHCP assignments and IP addresses. There’s one smartphone app that controls the network, but also monitors devices on the network.
This is where things get a little bit creepy — Luma lets parents (or, say, overbearing boyfriends) view internet browsing and usage in real time, all through the app. It’s a little too NSA-comes-to-the-suburbs for my taste, but then again I also spent my early years on PCs learning how to circumvent my parents’ firewall.
If Luma sounds like the efficient, slightly dystopian Wi-Fi future you’ve been waiting for, good news: it’s finally on sale to the general public. $199 buys you a single router, or $399 gets you the three-pack. It’s available on Luma’s website right now, and should be in Best Buy later this summer.