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A new design
Google is currently attempting to center most of its smart home offerings behind a unified Nest brand. Hence, that which was Google Wifi is currently Google Nest Wifi. Google marked the occasion with a whole new design, faster top speeds, and the addition of Google Assistant voice controls in each each Nest Wifi Point. And, in a welcome touch for existing users, all the new hardware is backwards-compatible with the previous-gen Google Wifi gear.
Nest branding aside, you’ll control everything via the Google Home app, which requires you to truly have a Google account. The iphone app is clean and fairly easy, and it does an excellent job of walking you through a setup process that’s simple to start with. You merely plug everything in, tell the iphone app to hook up with the router, and scan a QR code on underneath of each Point together with your phone’s camera. A couple of minutes later, your mesh network will be ready to go.
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The software doesn’t offer quite as much features as something similar to a dedicated gaming router, nevertheless, you still get some good useful controls over your network. You will see the devices linked to it and group them together, then pause the bond to those devices anytime you prefer, including with an instant voice command. That’s basically a parental superpower, but it isn’t exclusive to Google — most decent routers some sort of device-blocking functionality at this time, and many can sync up with Alexa or the Google Assistant to enable you to turn the connection on / off for sets of devices by using a quick voice command.
The Nest Wifi may also prioritize traffic to the devices on your own network, which will come in useful if you are streaming 4K video or gaming online. Talking about gaming, the machine will automatically prioritize traffic for Google Stadia, the search giant’s cloud gaming platform.
For the hardware itself, the Nest Wifi Router and Nest Wifi Point each include a simplistic, inoffensive design that’s created to blend into your house without having to be hidden out of sight, where they don’t perform as well. Compared to that end, the Points can be found in the selection of three colors, however the Router only will come in white.
An added quibble: The router only carries a single spare Ethernet jack, and there aren’t any Ethernet jacks on the Points at all. Which means you only get yourself a single wired connection for something similar to a gaming console or a good home bridge before you will have to buy another Ethernet hub. In addition, it means you can’t run a cable to the Nest Wifi Indicate daisy-chain a wired connection for faster mesh performance.
Talking about the Points, they’re functionally identical to Google’s Nest Mini smart speakers. They include usage of each of the same, voice-activated Google Assistant features, in addition to a microphone mute switch in the trunk and touch controls at the top. Sound quality is pretty much on par with the Nest Mini and with other small smart speakers including the Amazon Echo Dot — which is to state that it’s well suited for informal listening, but more likely to underwhelm at a residence party.
Just like the Google Wifi before (and like the majority of other mesh networks), the dual-band Nest Wifi doesn’t separate the two 2.4GHz band from the faster 5GHz band. Instead, it automatically “steers” you between your two of them about the same network as you move during your home. This worked particularly well in my own tests, where I moved from room to room, running speed test after speed test — I never noticed any hiccups in the signal whatsoever. Despite dropping finished ., it never once saw fit to come back the favor and drop my connection.
Is Nest’s mesh best?
At launch in 2019, the Nest Wifi’s top two opponents were the Eero and Netgear Orbi, two high-profile rivals who each launched new mesh systems around once as Google, all of them is less costly than Nest. With the Eero, you get yourself a three-piece mesh setup for $249. With the most recent Netgear Orbi system, a three-piece setup costs $229. For comparison, a three-piece Nest Wifi setup costs $349.
Since that time, we’ve seen several new mesh systems to enter the market, including several new systems that support next-gen Wi-Fi 6 speeds. They add a faster, fancier Netgear Orbi system and a far more budget-friendly Netgear Nighthawk setup, in addition to a new Wi-Fi 6 Asus ZenWiFi mesh system.