Geek Culture

Geek Review: ASUS Lyra Voice Home Mesh WiFi System

As the saying goes, two is better than one, and there’s no time like the current Internet of Things (IoT) era than to push out the combined convenience of paired technology. Birthed from the marriage between a mesh router and a smart speaker, the ASUS Lyra Voice belongs to a new family of hybrid devices, designed to deliver on multiple fronts.

The versatility – on paper, at least – inevitably invites some scepticism from users, but the digital-assistant-slash-wireless-router’s sleek, kind-of bizarre design definitely puts it more on the intriguing side of things. At first glance, it appears to take on the shape of a Bluetooth speaker, with volume control keys residing on the top, a slim LED strip down the middle, and firing speakers residing snuggly by the sides.

It works just like a speaker, too – plug it in, and it’s all set to blast some tunes. The Lyra Voice boasts compatibility with Spotify, which users can easily and efficiently set-up through a hassle-free process. The Amazon Alexa support system, however, would prove to be a problem to users outside of Alexa-supported countries, including those based here in Singapore.

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That’s not to say that set-up in these nations is not possible. Third-party sources for Android smartphones and an Apple ID change for iPhone users are both viable solutions to the issue, but the workarounds can be a little tedious and cumbersome for some. While Google Assistant support would have been a welcome feature, ASUS’ decision to go with Alexa is understandable, for it’s the preferred choice of developers, and comes with more voice commands for compatible apps and devices.

The actual set-up process for the WiFi system, meanwhile, is smooth and relatively straightforward. Downloading the ASUS Router app is a necessary step, after which a step-by-step guide will appear on-screen, with instructions tailored to the selected WiFi mode out of a total of three options: a standalone router, an AiMesh router or node, and a universal repeater.

The Lyra Voice’s repeater function, in particular, serves as an extremely handy feature. The manufacturer of existing Wi-Fi systems need not be brought into consideration, since it can be paired with most modern routers, which certainly introduces a great degree of convenience and versatility. There’s a catch to this, however: Using it as a repeater will render some of the in-built features inaccessible, including the parental control and security suite tools.

Where the mesh device shines is in its smart ecosystem. When added as an AiMesh node, users will be able to reap its benefits of a smooth network transfer between different mediums, but this naturally only works with another compatible ASUS router.

It’s worth noting that the ease that accompanies the set-up process is a recent affair. Before a host of recent updates, the Lyra Voice could not be configured properly, even after following the given instructions down to the tee. Performance was also observed to be spotty at times, with speeds falling far below the expected average, though all these initial hiccups were eventually resolved.

As a standalone router, the Lyra Voice puts up a decent performance. Its triband-wireless  set-up boasts satisfactory throughput rates at 2.4GHz, clocking in an average download speed of 92.50 Mbps – 87.78 Mbps with a YouTube video running in the background – on the laptop. The mesh device is also, for the most part, a consistent performer that allows for a smooth, uninterrupted gameplay and streaming experience. While watching the fifth season of Netflix’s Black Mirror, no connection issues were detected, with the stream going smoothly for the whole viewing duration.

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On rare occasions, however, latency spikes may be observed. During the live coverage of E3 press conferences, a video or two were affected by slight lag, and the visuals would, at times, freeze at particular frames. It’s worth noting that this is more likely attributed to YouTube’s connection speed than an in-built flaw of the Lyra Voice, though.

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Coverage-wise, it’s not the best on the market, but it does impressively well for a single router. Dead spots in the living room are accounted for, and the signal is able to reach about the 40m mark before complete disconnection sets in.

The performance of the Lyra Voice, as a whole, doesn’t stray too far off the figures of its ASUS Lyra predecessor. On paper, both boast 400Mbps connections at 2.4GHz and dual 867Mbps connections at 5GHz – although that doesn’t quite translate to reality, as demonstrated earlier. The main difference between the pair lies in the all-in-one solution offered by the former, as well as increased consistency across the board.

It’s equally impressive when doubled up as a stereo speaker, too. Bluetooth connectivity hardly poses as a problem, and the audio is sufficiently rounder, louder, and less bass-heavy. The volume control keys are also conveniently grouped together at the top for easy access.

Despite the rough start to the set-up process, the software side of things has its fair share of respectable traits. The ASUS Router app is incredibly detailed, offering information on its various features, from the usual traffic tracking to setting bandwidth and access restrictions for the young ones in the family.

At S$399, the ASUS Lyra Voice is little more expensive than a normal router, but it’s a worthy investment. With a solid combination of digital assistant, WiFi, and stereo speaker capabilities, the mesh device would make for a welcome addition to one’s home – although the option of Google Assistant does bring about some inconvenience. Still, it’s sufficiently versatile and competent, and ASUS has done a good job at setting the pace for the current mesh system market to evolve.

GEEK REVIEW SCORE

Summary

A mesh (hah) of versatility, functionality, and convenience makes the Lyra Voice a perfect addition to one’s home, with few flaws to boot.

Overall
8/10
8/10
  • Aesthetics - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Build Quality - 8/10
    8/10
  • Performance - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value - 8/10
    8/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
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