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First look: Google jumps into crowded wireless mesh market

Keith Shaw | Dec. 7, 2016
Easy setup, Internet pausing and whole-home coverage among top features

google wifi speed tests

As expected, throughput decreased the further away I was from the main router / storage device. Even though you might be close to a point initially, you’re still at the mercy of a longer wireless trip somewhere along the path.

Other features

The app provides some network visibility – it provides a nice map of the devices connected, and also how much bandwidth each device is using. Another cool feature is that the app will display your Wi-Fi network password, in case you forget it or use one of those letter-number-symbol long passwords.

You can also designate other users as “Managers” to the network, which means they can help manage the system in case you’re out of reach. Smart home options let you manage third-party devices (such as the Philips Hue light bulbs) if you have them. If you own a Google Home device, you can use the voice control systems to do things with the network, such as pausing the Internet. I didn’t have a Google Home device to test this feature in time for this review, but hope to have one soon.

Google says that it can also update the firmware on the devices automatically (usually overnight), but during my three days with the device I didn’t receive any new updates. Once the product starts shipping to more customers, I’m expecting to receive more firmware updates.

There's not much here for gearheads - at least one page on the app lets you adjust some "advanced features" such as DNS, static IP addressing, DHCP IP reservations and port forwarding, but that's about it. You can't access the system via browser - when you do (if you know the IP address of the WiFi point connected to the modem, for example), you get a Google web page that tells you to download the app.

Bottom line: Google has provided a solid entry into the wireless mesh space for consumers looking to easily create a new wireless network within their homes, or to provide whole-home coverage in areas where older routers didn’t reach. People looking for multi-device, high-performance routers should look for other products (within the MU-MIMO space).

Grade: 4 stars (out of five)

 

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