I'm moving to a new place soon and am currently planning out the networking, and I have a few questions:
is mesh really just a (marketing?) term for wireless backhaul?
Essentially, yes. Just extending the range at which clients can connect back to the main hub/controller/router.
ie, if I have ethernet available, can I just add a bunch of Access Points with the same SSID/Password, and they'll behave in the same way as a mesh would?
As I understand it, clients migrating between APs is actually part of the WiFi spec, not the wireless backhaul.
Or is there some additional handing off/beamforming/whatever going on?
I currently have a bunch of gen1 Google Wifis in mesh mode. Since then new place is going to get wired up all over the place, I'd like to get a ubiquiti dream machine pro as a router, and use my Google Wifi's in AP mode with it - is that possible?
For SSID/Password hand off to work, the APs need to support the 802.11r standard, which is what allows devices to seamlessly pass between one AP to another. This would need to be configured and controlled with a controller of some sort. If you just had a bunch of APs that did not support this standard, then devices would disconnect and reconnect to the network and you would have a ton of problems with clients connecting and maintaining connection.