I went with Eero also. Four-device Eero pro system (all the big device, no “beacons”). I needed strong signal at the edges of the house to keep Nest cams from dropping out. Most of the exterior is stucco so there’s a metal mesh layer in it. Not quite a faraday cage but it does seem to affect the cameras.
Of my four eeros, I’ve only got one in a spot with wired backhaul. Fixing that is on my to-do list.
Like you said, if you can have a wired backhaul, this is the number one thing you can do to improve your wireless network that uses multiple APs (I guess they are calling that “mesh” now days, though it really isn’t in the same way as Z-Wave / Zigbee, I digress). Even if you need a MoCA or Powerline backhaul, this is better than even the best wireless mesh backhaul.
Roaming between access points is tricky, and depends both on features and behaviors of the client and the network (the access points).
802.11r Fast Transition - eero, Ubiquity, enterprise gear, and most mobile devices support this. This lets the client pre authenticate to the next AP before the handoff, limiting the time of the roam.
80211k Neighbor Lists - pretty much an enterprise gear and iOS feature, this let’s the AP tell the clients about neighbors to roam to.
80211v Transition Management - take the above a bit further and let’s the AP tell the client more about the network and even instruct it to roam to another AP.
By and large though, as you have discovered with the wife’s laptop, the majority depends on how sticky the client was programmed to be.
… I use Cisco enterprise gear at home, but I usually tell people to get eeros or Ubiquity. I think eero was one of the first consumer devices that implemented 80211r, which always impressed me.
I would not turn on 802.11R as it has a vulnerability related to the KRACK issue and it requires a rewrite of the RFC to fix it. If you are not running voice over wireless it, disabling it will not cause you any noticeable issue. I have been told those running VoIP over WiFi might detect a blip as a user moves between cells.