LAS VEGAS — Anyone who has had to cobble together more than one router, access point,
or range extender to fully cover their home or office knows that it can be painful.
Each device typically needs to be configured separately, probably offers its own policy
for providing guest access, and can be difficult to debug. Startup Luma aims to change
all that, with a palm-sized device that can be used singly or as part of a set to provide
an easy-to-administer, high-performance, solution for deploying Wi-Fi. For those lucky
enough to live somewhere with high-speed broadband connections, Luma’s Ethernet ports
are 1 Gigabit, enough for fiber-speed connections.
It’s a router, an access point, and a range extender
Luma is available in a variety of colors for those who don’t have a great way to hide it
or just want to showcase their cool new techLarge businesses have had access to mesh-like
“Enterprise grade” Wi-Fi gear for a long time. Typically those units are expensive,
and designed to be administered by IT professionals. Luma has taken that approach and
adapted it to the home and small office environment. Luma’s device is an 802.11ac router,
that can also serve as an access point and range extender when several are deployed,
and is controlled through a free mobile app that is available for iOS and Android.
In addition, Luma’s founders say they have brought the same type of intrusion and
malware detection they developed for enterprise customers to the Luma.
One example of that capability is that the Luma device can scan your network looking
for machines that are not password protected. Picking channels for Wi-Fi devices in a
crowded environment is time consuming, and often needs to be redone if sources of
interference change. Luma does this automatically, changing its own settings as needed.
Luma’s device is dual band, and supports multi-user MIMO for improved performance.
Snoopy parents will love this
I got a demo of the unit’s parental controls from Luma here at CES 2016,
and to be honest it was a little freaky how much control it gives you over what is
happening on your network. You can see who is browsing what, and restrict access at the
user and website level — locally or remotely — if you want. Now, we never did that in
our house, and I’m not sure if I’m a fan, but for anyone looking for highly-granular,
and relatively easy-to-administer, parental controls, Luma has it.
There is one piece of this technology that I think will be very popular.
Luma can also control which servers your growing number of smart appliances connect with.
As the Internet of Things takes off, securing personal data will become increasingly
Pricing and availability
Competitor startup Eero is offering a very similar looking solution to the same
problems, Luma is accepting pre-orders for the unit, at $99 for a single unit,
or $249 for three. This is half of what they anticipate the retail price will be
after the devices ship this spring. Since each device can work by itself,
Luma says you can buy three and use them in multiple different locations if you don’t
need all three in the same place. Luma isn’t the only company about to ship a product in
this space. Startup Eero is taking a similar approach, although its current pre-order
price is $199.