V years ago, the router earth was dominated by names like Netgear, Asus, TP-Link, and Linksys. Google wasn’t in the conversation, and information technology didn’t have a router available for purchase (or fifty-fifty a real hardware division, for that matter).
Fast-forward to 2019, and Google lays claim to the elevation-selling router, thanks to the popularity of its Google Wifi mesh organization, which it introduced in 2016. It’s even more popular than Eero, which starting time popularized the idea of a mesh router for ameliorate Wi-Fi coverage in a home.
At present, Google is launching its follow-up: the more than powerful and more capable Nest Wifi system. The Nest Wifi, which is bachelor in a variety of configurations starting at $169, promises 25 percentage better coverage and upwardly to twice the speed of the Google Wifi system. In addition, the Nest Wifi’s Points, or secondary units that you place around your home to create a mesh system, double as Nest Mini voice-activated smart speakers.
I’ve been testing the $269 kit, which includes the router and a single mesh Point, in my roughly 2,000-foursquare-foot, split-level home. Google says this packet provides equally much coverage as the three-pack of the Google Wifi, and information technology’s good for homes up to 3,800 square feet and up to 200 connected devices. A $349 option provides a second Point and tin can comprehend upwards to five,400 square feet and upwards to 300 devices.
Like other mesh systems, the Nest Wifi is non a modem, and then it needs to exist plugged into the modem yous already have (likely provided past your Isp) to work. For me, that meant plugging into my Verizon Fios connectedness, which is a gigabit cobweb link. (Different Eero and others, Nest Wifi doesn’t work in a “bridge” style, which makes setting it upward with Fios more convoluted than other routers. For more than on getting Nest Wifi to work with a Fios connection, run into this post on Verizon’s forums.) This connectedness comes into my dwelling in the living room on the primary floor. I then placed the Point in my dwelling house office, a level below where the router is.
This arrangement was sufficient to provide strong Wi-Fi in every part of my dwelling and gave me plenty bandwidth to stream 4K video wherever I had a signal. It also handily managed the fifty-plus devices that are connected to my Wi-Fi network at any given fourth dimension and didn’t have any trouble “hopping” devices from the router to the Indicate when I moved about my home.
The Nest Wifi consistently provided faster speeds to my devices than the Google Wifi and similar speeds to what I get from the Eero Pro and Netgear Orbi, provided my devices were connected to the primary router and non the Indicate. When connected to the Point, speeds were cut in half, likely due to the Indicate’s less capable antennas and the lack of a defended backhaul channel for the router to communicate to the Signal, like the Eero Pro and Orbi systems have. Since my cyberspace service provides gigabit speeds, I still had over 100 megabits of bandwidth for both upload and downloads available no matter where I went in my home, simply that’s a far cry from the roughly 900 megabits that gets piped into my house. The average home broadband speed in the United states is just under 100 megabits, and then most people volition be able to take full advantage of their Internet service provider’s service with the Nest Wifi.
In addition to weaker radios, the Point lacks whatever Ethernet jacks, then you lot can’t use Ethernet backhaul to connect it to the router or plug devices direct into the Point where it’s placed.
Just where the Point lacks in Wi-Fi capabilities, it makes up for by the fact that pulls double duty as a voice-activated smart speaker. Essentially, it’s a Nest Mini speaker mashed into an original Google Wifi puck. It sounds very like to the Nest Mini, which isn’t a bad matter, and there’s a glowing band at its base that illuminates white when you speak to information technology and orange when the mic is muted. Information technology fifty-fifty has the same bear on controls as the Nest Mini for adjusting volume or pausing playback. Google intends the Point to exist placed out in the open, which provides the all-time wireless and smart speaker performance, so it designed it to look nicer than the typical router. It also comes in 3 colors — white, pale blue, or stake pink — while the principal router is only available in white.
The Point supports all of the same voice controls for the Google Banana as the Nest Mini, but it also adds a couple of router-specific vocalisation commands, such equally running speed tests or pausing connections to groups of devices managed in the Google Home app. If yous have a Nest Hub or Hub Max, yous can as well run speed tests from there or brandish the credentials to a guest network.
If you don’t need all the same another smart speaker in your home or you prefer Amazon’southward Repeat, Google is selling a two-pack of the router that doesn’t accept whatsoever Points for $299. This as well gives yous slightly improve coverage than a router and a Point and provides Ethernet jacks in both places you lot place the nodes with support for wired backhaul.
As mentioned, the Nest Wifi doesn’t accept a dedicated wireless backhaul ring, instead relying on a traditional 2.4GHz and 5GHz dual-ring system for both connections between the router and points every bit well equally connections to devices. Sanjay Noronha, connectivity product atomic number 82 at Google Nest, says the company decided on this arroyo because it can manage traffic efficiently with software, and it doesn’t need to add another level of hardware price and complexity to the mix. But in my experience, a dedicated backhaul band does provide faster speeds to devices that are connected to mesh points further away from the master router.
Similarly, the Nest Wifi does non back up the newly ratified Wi-Fi vi protocol, which is designed to provide more efficient connections to devices that have Wi-Fi vi capabilities. Noronha says supporting Wi-Fi 6 at this phase would take added a lot of cost to the organisation with few benefits for the vast bulk of customers since the vast majority of Wi-Fi devices exercise not support Wi-Fi 6 even so.
Setting up the Nest Wifi requires a Google business relationship and the newly updated Google Habitation app for iOS or Android. The Home app guides yous through installing the router, setting up a new Wi-Fi network and countersign, and placing the Bespeak in an optimal location in your domicile. You tin can run speed tests through information technology, see how many devices are continued to the network and prioritize specific ones, create a guest network, and schedule Wi-Fi breaks for kids’ devices on the network. It’south also possible to block adult sites on any device.
Merely if you want to admission more advanced features, such as seeing which node a specific device is continued to or configure port forwarding, you’ll have to use the one-time Google Wifi app, which has been updated to back up the Nest Wifi. Google says it will proceed to support both apps until the Google Home app has all of the features currently available in the Wifi app.
Like the Google Wifi and Eero systems, the Nest Wifi relies on Google’s cloud services for features such every bit automatic channel pick, remote network management, identifying continued devices, and providing historical data consumption stats. It’due south possible to disable the cloud connectivity in the Home app, but Google says the Nest Wifi volition non perform as well without them. The Nest Wifi also uses Google’s DNS services past default, simply the visitor says it does not associate Google Public DNS information with Google Accounts and the DNS provider can be changed through the Google Wifi app.
Dissimilar Eero, the Nest Wifi doesn’t have a subscription component for advertizement blocking, filtering, and other security features.
At $269, the router and Point two-pack is only slightly more expensive than Eero’due south new $249 entry-level iii-node system, yet information technology provides every bit adept or improve coverage and faster speeds than the Eero. It’southward also considerably less expensive than an Eero Pro organization or the newer Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers from Linksys or Netgear. That makes the Nest Wifi, similar the Google Wifi before information technology, an enticing value that volition likely prove to be very pop. It’due south not the fastest mesh router system yous tin get, and if you have a very fast internet connectedness in your domicile like I do, yous won’t be able to access near of your bandwidth through the Nest Wifi, though few other Wi-Fi routers tin do much better at this point.
So for the vast majority of people, the Nest Wifi performs well, looks good, provides some unique features, and doesn’t toll a fortune. It seems like Google has another winning router on its hands.
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