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Circle Home Plus Review: Price, Design, Setup, Performance

Add parental controls to your home network.

Parental control gadgets have become increasingly crucial as children of all ages use the internet for everything from education to leisure to social contact. As a parent of two teenagers, I’ve discovered that the epidemic has increased screen time problems, as kids have been attending school online and utilising the internet to keep in touch with pals during times of quarantine.

I just put the Circle Home Plus to the test, which is a parental control gadget that connects to the home network directly. The $129 device includes a little cube that connects to your router and communicates with a companion app, as well as a one-year subscription to premium features. Continue reading to see my entire Circle Home Plus review.

Table of Contents

Design: Sleek and Compact Design

The Circle Home Plus is a cube-shaped device with a glossy white finish that stands 3.25 inches tall and 3.25 inches wide. It’s not much bigger than a Rubik’s cube, and because of its monochromatic design, it passes unnoticed when it sits next to your router.

A USB-C power connection is enclosed by a rubberized circle that contains a power button on the back face of the Circle Home Plus. You’ll find an Ethernet port on the opposite side of the rubberized circle, which you may use to connect the device to your router. Although the port is protected, the way the half-circle lifts to reveal the Ethernet port makes for a difficult connection, since the port cover presses against the connected Ethernet cable.

Installation: Easy Installation

The Circle Home Plus is easy to set up: simply download the Circle app, create a parent account, and follow the app’s instructions. To connect the Circle Plus to your network, just plug in the unit, attach the USB charging/power cord, and then connect the Circle Plus to your router using an Ethernet wire.

You’ll be able to pair the Circle device with your WiFi network using the Circle app. The device will continue to function even if the Ethernet wire is unplugged. It only connects to 2.4GHz networks, and you must be connected to the same network as the one you want to connect to.

Setup: Tedious Setup

Setting up parental controls, especially if your children have a number of gadgets, may be a time-consuming procedure. To get the most out of the capabilities on a mobile device, you’ll need to download the Circle app on your child’s device. This instals a VPN on your child’s device, allowing you to watch their location, manage their usage, view their history, set time limits, and reward them (in the form of more screen time or loosened restrictions).

You may use preset filters to ban or allow particular apps, websites, and content categories, such as none, kid, teen, and adult. You can also restrict access to specific websites. Because the Circle Home Plus comes with a year of premium access, I was able to use all of the functions.

Connectivity: Not a perfect fit for all mesh routers

The Circle Home Plus works with most routers without a hitch, but mesh networks and Wi-Fi extenders aren’t necessarily as easy to set up. However, there are workarounds, and Circle suggests utilising compatibility mode and setting network devices to “unmanaged” when using the Circle Home Plus with mesh networks and extenders.

A USB-C charging cable connects the device to your power socket. It also features a battery backup, so your children won’t be able to simply unplug it to get around the parental settings. You’ll get a notification in the app if the Circle Home Plus is unplugged.

Performance: Slows Down Device

The Circle Home Plus has a gigabit Ethernet connector as well as a wireless card that operates at 2.4GHz. I did notice some small network lag, but the speed increased after I unplugged all of the non-essential devices from the unit.

Except on mobile devices, when the speeds are substantially different, I didn’t notice much of a difference in my network speeds with and without the Circle Home Plus when only my children’s gadgets were connected.

When I installed the Circle VPN on my child’s mobile device, the internet connection was considerably decreased. Some websites took up to 10 seconds to load, especially when certain features were turned on (like focus time).

Price: $129 plus one-year subscription

The Circle Home Plus is available in a variety of package configurations. You may get the device for $69 with a three-month membership, $129 with a 12-month subscription, or $299 with a lifetime subscription. If you wish to keep your subscription after it expires, it costs $10 per month.

You only have access to filters, use, and history if you don’t have a membership. Location, bedtime, offtime, pause, awards, and time limits are all included in the premium subscription. Similar functions can be accessed through parental controls on a router, Apple’s screen time, a basic parental control software, or even an antivirus product like Trend-Micro.

Circle Home Plus vs. Netgear Orbi

The Circle Home Plus differs from mesh systems like the Netgear Orbi in that it is not a separate router. Parental controls are the only feature of the Circle Home Plus. The Netgear Orbi, on the other hand, is a mesh system that provides wireless internet connectivity across a vast area.

Circle parental controls are incorporated into the Orbi and several other Netgear routers as a secondary function. Without any additional equipment, you may use Circle’s basic functions on a Netgear Orbi mesh system for free. Circle’s premium features are available for $5 per month. The Circle Home Plus is a wonderful alternative for those who want to keep their existing router. You can upgrade to a mesh if you want to.