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Wireless Reviews

Setup

Like eero, Luma is designed for people who just want good, fast Wi-Fi and don't really ever want to twiddle the settings that router geeks love so much. Like eero, Luma uses Android and iOS apps running on a phone or tablet with Bluetooth 4.0 LE radio for setup and administration. If you try to hit Luma's default 192.168.55.1 IP address with a web browser, you get the screen below. A service scan on Luma's LAN IP address using Fing revealed these TCP services (ports): DNS (53); HTTP (80); UPnP (5000); and (5001).

Luma doesn't support web administration

Luma doesn't support web administration

I'm not going to walk through setting up Luma. I'll just do what Luma does; send you to the video it created.

Luma setup video

There is also this setup guide if you don't want to watch the video.

I have a few comments about setup, however. First, Luma takes an old school approach to administration authentication, requiring you to set up a password. I prefer eero's emailed / texted one time code. I really didn't like that Luma requires locations services be enabled on your phone for setup. If you don't want to share your location, you can't proceed with setup.

I first tried setting up with a second generation Moto X smartphone but kept getting stuck looking at Luma's spinning blue circle. Despite multiple attempts, and rebooting my phone, router and Luma, I just couldn't get the job done. So I switched to a second generation (ASUS) Nexus 7 tablet, which completed the process without a problem.

Luma supports only DHCP WAN types. If your provider requires your router to use PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP or IPv6 WAN connections, you'll have to leave your current router in place. Luma's FAQ aren't very helpful when it comes to how to handle this situation. There is only one FAQ that refers to bridging, but offers no help in how to do it. Fortunately, Luma doesn't skimp on other methods of obtaining help, offering 7 day toll-free phone help, a ticket system or plain old email.

Finally, if you connect more than one Luma to your existing network via Ethernet, it will designate one as the internet gateway / router and the others as additional APs, just as eero does. In other words, if you give Luma an Ethernet connection, it will figure out how best to use it. You can also use an Ethernet port on any Luma to connect an Ethernet device or a switch to support multiple Ethernet devices.

In Use

Luma's app has some of the eero app's features plus a unique one of its own. Setup and admin features are very sparse. About all you can do is see Luma's LAN IP address and set Wi-Fi network names for the main WLAN and single guest network. That's it. No port forwarding, QoS, DMZ, DHCP reservations or other things you may depend on. You can't even check your WAN IP address or see the firmware revision Luma is running.

Luma says these and other features are coming in future updates, for what it's worth. In the meantime, if you need anything more than basic connectivity, you'll need to use your current router. When you do that, unfortunately, Luma's routing functions still run and will create a double-NAT situation, with Luma devices on their own separate network from devices connected to your main router. There is no way to switch Luma to AP-only mode.

Like eero, Luma's opening screen greets you with a measure of your internet connection up and download speeds, which you can refresh by dragging down from the top of the window below the menu bar icons.

Luma Home and Menus

Luma Home and Menus

Where Luma differentiates itself is in its security and filtering features. I submitted a few rounds of questions to Luma about these features. The Q's and A's follow.

Q: Can you provide specifics about Luma's security features? What exploits are detected, what database is used?

A: The types of exploits detected are Ad fraud, botnet, malware, spyware, spam, and Phishing. We use several third party malware databases and and build our own based on our customer network.

Q: Can you provide specifics about Luma's internet filtering? What database is used? Examples of sites filtered for the R, PG-13, PG and G classes?

A: We use a couple of third party URL filtering databases. We have tens of millions of websites classified into categories and we then map those categories into PG style ratings. For example, violence, weapons and sexual categories are allowed for R but not PG. G is a whitelist only approach that only provides access to a set of kids websites like PBS Kids and Nick for Kids.

Q: What is done locally and what is done in the cloud?

A: All network routing and policy enforcement is done locally. The cloud provides policy decisions, malware database updates, and wireless and routing optimization updates. For filtering and security, a portion of the database is cached locally and the Luma queries the cloud for real-time decisions for other traffic.

Q: How is the connection secured between Luma and Luma cloud?

A: The connection between Luma and the Luma cloud is two-authenticated SSL connection.

Q: Does all user traffic pass through Luma's cloud, including local traffic?

A: The user traffic does not pass through Luma’s cloud. The local Lumas query the cloud based on the URLs that the user is visiting and the cloud provides a policy decision in real-time back to the local Luma.

Q: What information about user traffic does Luma store and for how long?

A: Luma only stores the information that is needed to provide reporting back to the user. If no reporting is enabled, then no traffic information is stored.

Security features automatically apply to all devices connected to Luma. To use Filtering features, you need to define Connections, which are relationships among People, Devices and Filtering levels.The composite screenshots below provide the gist of this.

Luma Connections and People screens

Luma Connections and People screens

Good luck assigning devices; you currently can't rename them and Luma doesn't look up MAC addresses to assign more useful descriptions or icons.

Luma Devices and Assign screens

Luma Devices and Assign screens

Security and filtering services pretty much operate as a black box. The only way you know if they are working is when something shows up on the Security screen in the Luma app. There is no other reporting at this point. I don't have a zoo of bad stuff to test with so couldn't really give this an even cursory test and Luma didn't suggest any way of testing this feature.

The screenshot below shows the simple Security screen and the overlay that pops up when you tap the icon at screen lower right.

Luma Security and pop-up control & Filtering screens

Luma Security and pop-up control & Filtering screens

Pause Internet did just that, leaving local Wi-Fi up, but cutting all internet access. Invite to WiFi just shares the guest network name and password in clear text via the various connection methods supported by your device (text, email, Android beam, Bluetooth, etc.). The enigmatic Filtering screen is the last panel; a level set here is taken as the default for all connections unless otherwise adjusted for a Person.

I set my restrictions / filtering level to G, which Luma says is "whitelist only" and tried an assortment of sites on my Android tablet using Chrome. SmallNetBuilder.com was accessible, as was Disney.com. Playboy.com and Cosmopolitan.com were blocked as was Yahoo.com. Google.com was not blocked, nor was access to browsing YouTube.com when I clicked on the YouTube link from the Chrome browser. But when I tried to play a few Suicide Squad trailers, YouTube reported "Connection to server lost".

I didn't always get the Luma Website Not Allowed page when trying to access a blocked site. Sometimes I just got a Chrome This Site Can't Be Reached page.

My bottom line for both security and filtering features is they're not ready for prime time and need much more transparency and documentation. Don't-bother-me-with-the-details may be a good method for setting up and managing a Wi-Fi network. But when it comes to web filtering and understanding the level of protection a product provides, details are paramount. Per person internet time limits would also be a welcome addition to the feature set.

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