🍎 I currently live with my parents, both of whom work in tech, and my younger brother, in highschool. In a house with 6 laptops, 5 phones, and a handful of smart home devices, WiFi is a scarce resource. With everyone working from home during quarantine, office hours became hell with one WiFi router. It couldn’t provide a strong signal over the entire house to 4 different video streams and misc activities on connected devices.
📶 To reduce the load on the router, I added another one on the same network, making a mesh, so that all devices would get a strong WiFi signal. I had 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bandwidths. I configured both signals on the second router, but they would alternate in connectivity to the internet, making the mesh unreliable. So one day, I (literally) pulled the plug and bought the Google Nest WiFi.
The Google Nest WiFi creates a mesh WiFi to provide more coverage than a traditional router. It uses a connected system of multiple WiFi points to provide a consistently strong signal over a wider area. The matte plastic bubble with a glowing ring looks sleek. It is a minimalist take on modern routers, replacing the old boxy, black boxes that have antennas poking out.
Google focused on one thing with the Nest WiFi: Simplicity. Right from opening the box to maintaining it, the whole system is foolproof. The setup is super simple: plug and play. It has a power point and two ethernet ports for LAN and WAN. An LED lights up, indicating an established connection, and you are good to go.
The points look similar to the main router, and each of them is a smart speaker. They work with Google Assistant and provide the same functionality as a Google Mini. The 360 speakers are good quality and are suitable for everyday music listening. Similar to the Google Home Minis, the volume is adjustable by tapping the sides of the bubble. It makes you keep the router in an open area, unlike most routers, which usually end up in the corner of a closet and get dusty.
The best part about it is that the whole setup goes directly into the Google Home app. So if you are part of that ecosystem already, it fits right in. The Google Home app allows all the customization right from your phone. Long gone are the days of 192.168.1.1
It gives a better UI to stuff like running the speed test, quickly adding device traffic prioritization, and setting up parental controls on devices. A guest network and the list of connected devices are elementary to pull up and modify.
The mesh blanket doesn’t degrade speed and simultaneously leverages 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands for optimal performance. Google’s tech can switch signals between bands as devices move from one point to the other, maintaining a robust connection. It means that there is one WiFi signal over the entire house, and there is no need to configure both the bands individually.
❌ The Bad:
Simplicity is a double-edged sword. Things like flashing the router, using 192.168.1.1, don’t work. Google doesn’t allow for a lot of customization. It, like I said before, is a simple plug and play router. Its direct competitor, Eero, is a lot more customizable and allows the ability to block ads(the very soul of Google’s income) from certain websites on the network level.
The predecessor of Google Nest WiFi was Google WiFi. Even though there is a considerable upgrade in the hardware: from an AC1200 2x2 antenna to an AC2200 4x4 antenna with increased speeds, they removed the ethernet cable port for the hubs. It would’ve been ideal to still be able to plug in ethernet and see if the speeds could be even faster. (Although I don’t have super-fast internet, to begin with)
WiFi 6 is the USB C of the future. Many devices, and routers are becoming WiFi 6 supportive. Nest WiFi chose to pass over this feature, maybe to keep costs low. So even though there are not many devices that currently support WiFi 6, it does make the routers a little less futureproof.
🛑 The Ugly:
The worst part about the Google Nest WiFi is in the first word of its name. To use the router, you need a Google account and need to check YES to: “You agree that Google may collect and use technical and related information, including but not limited to information about your computer and/or mobile device, operating system, peripherals, applications, connected devices, network traffic, and data use to facilitate the provision of the Software and Services, including support and other related services.” 🙂
🌐 Overall, if you are looking to buy a simple WiFi mesh at a decent price to expand the coverage area of your house, Nest WiFi is the way to go. If you are looking for something a little more customizable, or cheaper or don’t want to use Google, there are other options like Amazon’s Eero, Netgear Orbi, or Asus ZenWifi.