Google proves that good stuff really can can be found in small packages using its Nest WiFi category of mesh routers ($269 for the 2-pack we reviewed). The compact mesh units have the energy to fill a house with strong Wi-Fi signal, and even include a built-in Google Home speaker for voice commands and playing music, giving owners the same type of smart speaker control made available from the Netgear Orbi Voice, a pricey add-on to your top pick for the prior best mesh Wi-Fi system, the Netgear Orbi.
The Nest WiFi kit isn’t perfect – we want to see more customization options and better add the individual units – but when compared to latest competing mesh systems, the Nest WiFi is smaller and less expensive compared to the Netgear Orbi with Orbi Voice extension, and stronger than the most recent Eero mesh system. Quite simply, the two-piece kit takes the lead in terms of delivering Wi-Fi data and music. Read our whole Nest WiFi review to understand why its the very best mesh Wi-Fi solution out there. (Actually, we named the Nest WiFi one of the better products of the entire year inside our 2020 Tom’s Guide Awards.)
Nest WiFi review: Design
Made up of devices that appear to be big plastic marshmallows, the Nest WiFi mesh devices are small and simple to hide. Furthermore to stashing them on a shelf, they can fit on a windowsill or on a coffee table. The router includes a 4.3-inch diameter and is 3.6 inches tall. In comparison, the Point extensions certainly are a little smaller with a 4.0-inch diameter and 3.4-inch height. Both have shotgun-cooling holes at their bases and so are tiny in comparison to comparable Netgear Orbi devices, which are larger and measure practically 10 inches tall.
(Image credit: Google)
The Nest WiFi devices should match a range of home decors, because of Google Home’s evolving design language of organic and natural shapes without hard edges and soft colors. The router is available only in flat white, however the extensions can be found in Mist (light blue), Sand (tan) or white.
The Nest WiFi concept is comparable to Netgear’s Orbi Voice: the router may be the center of home networking as the Nest WiFi Point Extensions do double duty: They push the Wi-Fi signal farther in to the house and can react to voice commands and play audio. Essentially, the extensions certainly are a combo of a mesh extender and a Google Home Mini smart speaker.
Alone, the router sells for $169 and will cover 2,200 square feet, according to Google. The router and an extension two-pack, which will do to fill to 3,800 square feet, costs $269. In comparison, it took three of the older Google WiFi disks to fill roughly that same space. The Nest WiFi three-pack escalates the coverage to 5,400 square feet for $349. From then on, each additional extension costs $149, a $50 savings weighed against the Netgear Orbi Voice speaker extension.
The Nest WiFi has the ability to accommodate up to 32 extensions, and all however the smallest homes will demand an extension or two. The glad tidings are that the prior generation of Google WiFi gear can be utilised as extensions with Nest WiFi to increase the network’s reach but without the audio tracks abilities.
Using Google’s Broadcast function, the extensions works extremely well as an intercom that may also link with other Google Home gear and Nest Hubs for audio tracks calls. You will find a activate each extension to carefully turn the microphone off and preserve privacy.
Surprisingly, predicated on its size, its sound quality is richer and sharper than Orbi Voice but lacks low-end bass response and doesn’t get practically as loud as the Orbi RBK40V. It ought to be fine for a tiny room, however the music will probably get lost in the chatter of a celebration. Unfortunately, there is no audio-out jack to patch into an external speaker, but I could wirelessly link the extension with a Bluetooth speaker in about 2 minutes. Alternatively, you can pair the extension with a Google Mini speaker as the proper or left stereo channel for fuller sound.
Nest WiFi review: Performance
Built around a custom version of Qualcomm’s QCS400 category of chips, the Nest WiFi router and extensions use a 1.4GHz quad-core processor and some Digital Signal Processors (DSP), as the extensions have far-field voice-pickup technology. The router has 1GB of RAM together with 4GB of flash storage for firmware and settings, as the extensions have 768MB of RAM and 512MB of space for storage.
(Image credit: Google)
The extensions react to each of the Google Home commands and Google Assistant skills that any Google smart-speaker uses.
Happily, the router runs on the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) to authenticate its programmed firmware updates. This signifies that the system’s software changes are secure and so are only accepted if they are digitally signed by Google. The machine has WPA 3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) security built-in, but only a small number of networking gear supports this new standard. You can still utilize the more prevalent WPA 2.
To measure the performance capacities of the Nest WiFi gear, we first arrange it at the Tom’s Guide open office and tested performance using Ixia’s IxChariot. The router’s maximum throughput occurred five feet from the Nest base unit having the ability to move 653.2Mbps. That’s a huge step up from the initial Google WiFi (464.3Mbps) and well prior to the the 2019 Eero (342.2Mbps). The prior category leader, the Netgear Orbi RBK50 turned in a middling performance of 552.1Mbps at 5 feet.
The Nest WiFi’s performance dropped off to 612.0- and 455.1-Mbps at 15- and 50-feet, or between 11- and 15-percent prior to the Orbi RBK50 mesh system. At 50-feet, the Orbi turned the tables and took the lead with 478.3Mbps versus the Nest’s 455.1Mbps. At 100-feet, the Nest regained the benefit with 394.0Mbps available versus 315.5Mbps for the Orbi RBK50 system.
It blew away the 2019 Eero inside our wall penetration testing, where in fact the signal must travel through three walls and 40-feet of heavy-duty construction. As the Nest delivered 400.6Mbps, the Eero could only muster 84Mbps, significantly less than one-quarter the throughput.
The Nest excelled on our mesh system test with a satellite unit 50-feet from the host router. It had been in a position to transmit 480.1Mbps. In comparison, the Eero managed only 169.1Mbps on a single tests. That is likely the consequence of its lower performance aspirations. As the Nest WiFi devices are rated to use at a peak of 2.2Gbps, the brand new Eero devices top out at 550Mbps, one-quarter the peak skills of the Nest.
I set the Nest two-pack up in my own three-story, 3,500-square-foot home, a mature building with thick walls and a lot of nooks and crannies. With the router in the basement and the extension a floor above, the two-piece Nest set ran with out a problem for greater than a week of testing. As the router lacked the built-in smart speaker, I create a Nest Hub local to supply that same functionality for the reason that