As with many smart home and IoT devices, the MeshForce M3 Whole Home WiFi System is configured via an app that is available for both iOS and Android devices. Though not the 100% standard, app-based setups are becoming more and more common, quickly moving to overtake the traditional setup done via a website-based interface. Grabbing and installing the My Mesh app from your compatible app store is a simple process, and once installed, this app is used to not only setup the system, but control it as well.
First we have to plug in the base unit to not only power, but to our modem. In this case we will plug in to the WAN/LAN port on the M3 unit. Once powered up, we are ready for the app.
Once the app is installed and launched, we were first prompted to connect to the WiFi network being broadcast by the base unit using the SSID and password found on the bottom of the device. Once connected, you simply return to the app for the next step.
Next is a welcome screen that prompts us to move along to setup.
This step automatically determines our Internet connection type, and also allows us to change the settings if the automatic detection is incorrect for some reason.
Next we will set the new WiFi network name and password.
The next screen informs us that we don’t need to do anything extra to setup the additional M3 Dot devices, other than plugging them in to an outlet.
A few additional informational screens give us various tips about device placement and status indicators.
After that, we are presented with a prompt to login with one of a few social media connectors, or to create an account with an e-mail address. This step is optional, as you can still manage the network without being logged in. You will however need to login to take advantage of remote configuration.
My Mesh Interface Overview
Once back at the main app screen, we see a pretty basic layout. Up top is our network name that we created in the setup process, and using the drop-down menu allows you to add additional MeshForce devices. Also up top is a profile icon that allows you to login for remote router management.
Towards the top of the main screen we see a globe icon flanked by an upload and download meter. Each meter shows the upload or download bandwidth currently being used, and this accounts for all network devices connected via the MeshForce base unit. That includes wired devices that may be connected via the LAN port of the base unit or down the line via switches. We do wish there was a cumulative counter for each indicator, as we think keeping an eye on bandwidth use is a very handy option to have.
In the middle of the screen we have a logical view of the MeshForce M3 mesh network, with the M3 base unit up top, and the two M3 Dot units connected below. In this image we see that the main unit is green, indicating it is connected and functional, and a green circle indicates that two devices are currently connected. The two M3 Dot units are both red with exclamation point indicators, which means they are offline or not able to communicate with the base unit. In this case, we had not yet connected the Dot units. We also have a total connected devices list below our network diagram, which shows the total number of devices across the entire MeshForce network. Each of these icons can be tapped to view information about each device or label.
At the bottom of the main app page are two tabs – My WiFi and Settings. MyWiFi takes you to the app’s home page, while the settings tab takes you to the settings portion of the app.
By tapping the Internet globe icon on the main page, we are taken to an Internet Connection Details page that gives us some bandwidth information, as well as some basic connection information for the M3 base unit.
Tapping the M3 base unit icon take you to an informational page about the base unit. It is here where we would expect to be able to set the name of the device, but alas, you can’t edit the name of any of the M3 devices. This seems like a pretty major feature missing from the system, and we aren’t really sure why MeshForce left it out. The information found here can be helpful, and includes connection quality, the ability to turn on or off the LED indicator, and the option to provide a physical location to the device.
Tapping on the Connected Devices area on the M3 base unit page takes you to a list of devices that have connected to the unit. This page will show not only the devices currently connected, but also devices that have connected in the past, and when they last connected. You can further dive in to the devices by selecting one in the list.
This will take you to a basic informational screen for the device, which shows current bandwidth use, a description of the device, group membership status, and details.
The Settings section of the app is where more detailed configuration of the network occurs, though we will say, this system does not give you as much flexibility and configuration as other devices we have reviewed. That being said, keeping things simple may be the best option for those that are not as comfortable when they see a plethora of configuration options.
Wireless Settings – Allows you to set the wireless network name and password.
Guest Network – Allows you to enable and configure a guest network. Unfortunately, we can only specify network name, password, and connection time. No other details or information are provided.
Parental Controls – Here we can create groups that can be used to configure the times in which certain devices are allowed to be on the network. Unfortunately, we can’t set time limits for these groups, so there is no way to set a limit of one hour for example, unless you set that limit via a set, one hour time period of access. Also, there is no Internet filtering of any type, so we aren’t really sure why this was called Parental Control, as the features we would expect to see (content control, time limits, quotas, etc.) are nowhere to be found.
Internet Settings – This page lists our connection type and allows us to change this if needed. It is here where you can also set the system to run in a Bridge mode to enable another network device to control items like DHCP, DNS, and other common network settings.
QoS – This page only offers a simple On/Off toggle switch, and a a note indicating that turning QoS on will prioritize smooth game and web browsing. No ability to configure application or protocol types here as we would expect to see.
Add a mesh point – Here is where you can add additional mesh points in addition to the two included M3 Dot devices.
Fast Roaming – Enabling this setting allows wireless clients to move between mesh devices quickly, so long as the devices are compatible with certain software levels.
Capacity-oriented Mode – For high client count networks, it is recommended to turn this option on. MeshForce recommends doing so if there are more than 30 devices using the mesh network.
Smart Assistant – This handy feature surveys your network for 30 minutes, and helps determine which IoT and smart devices require a 2.4Ghz wireless signal.
Port Forwarding – Here we can punch LAN-connected network devices and ports through the M3’s “firewall”. We put that in quotes, because there is absolutely no mention of a firewall or IDS/IPS in any of the MeshForce documentation, either online or in the app. That being said, this is where you can make internal LAN devices available outside the network.
UPnP – Enabled by default, which we really don’t like to see due to all of the security issues with this architecture, this function can be turned on to more easily discover each other.
DHCP Server – Here we have some very basic DHCP server options. You can select private address space from Class A, B, or C network types, but no limits on the scope can be set, nor can you view the current DHCP leases. You also can’t set any DHCP reservations or static entries. Once again, we find the configuration options to be lacking with the MeshForce M3 Whole Home WiFi System.
DNS – Automatic or Manual options are present here, depending on your network design.
Firmware Upgrade – This portion of the app allows you to detect the firmware on each device and to install newer firmware if available.
Maintenance Schedule – Here you can set the mesh system to reboot at a certain time according to your liking. This reboot can be delayed if the network sees data transfers above 3 KB/s so that legitimate network traffic is not interrupted.