God help us, we need smarter Wi-Fi routers. I have no idea how to set mine up properly. That’s what the Starry Station aspires to be: your super-easy, super-smart home hub to manage and control all your wireless stuff. Think of it as the Nest of home networking hubs. Yeah, you’ve probably heard that pitch before, but that’s the first thing that Starry Station reminded me of…and you’ll probably think the same thing, too.
Coming in early March for $350, the Starry Station works with any internet service you’ve already got, using 802.11ac and both 2.4 and 5GHz bands. Plug it in, and you’re good to go. But what makes Starry Station different is its capacitive touchscreen, which acts as a window into your “Internet health” for all your connected gadgets.
That display, meant to be easily seen from up to 10 feet away, shows a score on a scale of 1 to 100, indicating how “healthy” your connection is. (It factors in your internet connection, Wi-Fi conditions in the home, and how many devices are connected, and how they’re doing, too.) Floating around your health score are blue (or red) orbs. These are your connected devices. The bigger they are, the more data they’re using. Blue is a good connection, red is a bad one.
Smart, huh? Also smart is the Starry Station’s ability to assign new network names and passwords on the fly from its touchscreen, and even manage screen time for individual devices. According to Starry, it’ll also intelligently assess whether you’re using the 2.4 or 5GHz band more, and help switch your connection to the other band as needed.
The problem? It’s horribly expensive. And it only has two Ethernet ports. And, well, it’s just a router. There have been other routers with screens, and Google and others have been working on their own smart router solutions which have shown promises and…challenges.
The Starry Station is a separate product from Starry’s broadband wireless internet subscription service Starry Internet, which it aims to deploy in a beta in Boston this summer. Starry’s Internet service will operate using its own transmitting towers and home antenna receivers, and yes, it’ll work with the Starry Station — Starry hopes you’ll see the light and use both together. But forget about Starry’s wireless service for now, because who knows when your city will even have access to it. In the meantime, the Starry Station router is its own home router product, and wants to work with what you’ve already got. If you ever get Starry’s future wireless Internet, you’d need to connect it to the Starry Spot, a separate antenna modem you’d put near a window.
I love the simple, intuitive design of the Starry Station and its infographics, and think it’s a great model for future smart routers. Would I pay $350 for it? I don’t think so, unless it’s truly amazing. The Starry Station is available to order starting February 5 from Amazon and Starry’s website.