Plume made a splash into the burgeoning Wi-Fi mesh scene a couple of years ago by promising to do things differently. In a market where vendors vie with each other to put the biggest, nastiest-looking hardware with the biggest possible numbers on the box, Plume seemed to say, “That’s not how you actually fix Wi-Fi.”
Instead, the small, crowdfunded startup started by taking a risk on selling tiny, low-powered devices with cloud-based smart management. And the strategy proved to be successful, despite the devices’ individual low power and speed. Fast-forward to today, Plume is now releasing a second generation of hardware—called “Superpod”—that keeps the small form factor, nimble deployment, and overall network reliability of its first product. And after getting a little pre-release hands-on, Plume’s newest effort also appears to add the raw speed its predecessor was missing.
Quarter-mile times aren’t everything
Before talking about this particular product’s performance, we need to talk about how to measure Wi-Fi performance in the first place. When I’m not busy building my own routers, I’ve spent the last couple of years learning about and improving methods of testing Wi-Fi systems in ways that actually matter for real-world use. Wireless AC speed ratings are complete mumbo-jumbo, and simple iPerf3 runs don’t get the job done, either.