Google Nest Wifi Assessment: Mesh Networking With out The Trouble

“Google's Nest WiFi is a great mesh network system with a secret. It's also a smart speaker. "

  • Easy installation and setup

  • Google Assistant integration

  • Possibility to extend the cover

  • Contemporary design fits every decor

  • A bit expensive

  • Single ethernet port

The rating was last updated by Digital Trends editor John Velasco on June 2, 2020.

For an average Joe, home internet service means either calling a local service provider or browsing the web to find the best deals. Once there is something worth subscribing to, a technician will come out for the installation. They are usually ready for use in a few minutes. Most people never worry about replacing a router unless they need more coverage.

The Google Nest Wifi is brought to life with its coverage and consistency for the entire house. Basically, the Nest Wifi aims to do the same job as most other mesh WiFi routers. However, Google's interpretation secretly offers some notable features that continue the company's focus on providing multi-functional devices for the smart home.

The starter pack, which includes the router and access point, is priced at $ 269. Would you like to expand your existing system? Additional access points can be purchased directly from Google for $ 149.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to set it up

Setting up routers can be overwhelming, especially for those who have no background in networking. Google makes the process painless and easy with the included quick guide. I was quite frustrated with overly complex router setups, but this was without a doubt the easiest one to get started.

Using the Google Home app on my Android smartphone, I was instructed to connect the Nest WiFi router to my existing Xfinity xFi gateway modem using the included Ethernet connection.

John Velasco / Digital Trends

After setting up the appropriate SSID and password for my network, I needed to capture the QR code on the device using the Google Home app to connect to the Nest WiFi point. From there, it automatically communicated with the router to set up the mesh network.

While I appreciate Google's approach to the setup process, anyone who has configured other mesh networking systems won't find it unique or unusual. For example, Netgear's Orbi Mesh Wi-Fi system has a similar setup process. Mesh networking systems are all about ease of use, and Google's competitors at Netgear and Linksys were not surprised.

The real key to Google's approach is Google's own brand. The Nest WiFi maintains the corporate software's appearance. If you're using a Pixel phone or have another Google Home device, the Nest WiFi is known from the start.

Finally a smarter implementation

Routers are generally little loved. Once set up, they are usually hidden behind a closet or entertainment system and forgotten unless there is a problem. Here, the integration of Google Assistant into the Wi-Fi point shows that the company takes the multifunctional aspect of its devices into account.

The Wi-Fi point is not only helpful to extend coverage at home, but can also be used to perform the same functions as all Google smart speakers. It essentially acts as a Nest Mini speaker, allowing you to play music, access Google Assistant, and even control other connected smart home devices through voice actions.

Speaking of music, it's a small step up from the Nest Mini's audio performance with the distinctive bass it pumps out, making it a more substantial and comfortable ear. Similar to the Nest Mini, proximity sensors can detect when you are nearby and the LEDs on the top of the device light up. I like even better how the LED ring lights up around the body when you instruct the Google Assistant.

Mind you, it's $ 149 per pop, versus a meager $ 50 for the Nest Mini. The Nest WiFi Access Point is first the router, then the smart speaker. Still, it's nice to see that it's more than just a mesh network access point.

The prices are comparable to those of the competition, as add-on satellites for Netgears Orbi and Amazon Eero-Mesh systems have a similar MSRP. If you use the hardware as an intelligent speaker, Google offers more value.

Cover dead zones

I live in a small apartment with an area of ​​around 1,100 square meters, so that my existing xFi gateway can cover most places, although the outside areas can be stained. The worst spots are in my bedroom and bathroom, where I tend to see weaker Wi-Fi connectivity, usually at a bar or two. The signal must pass through some walls and other obstacles.

The Nest WiFi mesh system covers these areas with sufficient coverage without sacrificing speed, while using the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands for optimal performance. I am still able to reach speeds of around 900 Mbps down and 40 Mbps up. These are similar to what I get when I am in the same room as my Xfinity xFi gateway. For the remote areas that weren't fully covered before, it's great to see that my connection speed is now maintained.

John Velasco / Digital Trends

The advantage of this is the additional range of my Wi-Fi network. Even if this does not change my current setup drastically, I can use better WiFi in the far corners of my house, which leads to a more reliable connection overall.

The router covers more than 2,200 square feet, while each wifi point adds another 1,600 square feet. The advantage here is of course that you can scale the setup accordingly to ensure proper coverage throughout the house. Of course, you won't be able to do this with most routers unless they are designed with mesh networks in mind.

For comparison: The 2nd generation Eero Pro gateway covers 1,750 square feet, with each beacon covering 1,500 square feet. Even more impressive is the 3,500 square meter coverage with the Orbi router from Netgear and the additional 2,000 square meter coverage with every satellite.

Overall, Google's Nest WiFi isn't the most technically powerful option. However, the average American house is just under 2,500 square meters. This means that a Nest WiFi router with an access point should be enough.

Space for more expansion

Google's approach is to network simply and easily. I think this is achieved here with the Nest WiFi. Those who yearn for advanced controls and features will be disappointed with the sleek offerings here.

Sure, there is access to features like setting up a guest network, parental controls / restrictions, and even prioritizing traffic, but you won't find any other advanced features that serious network geeks love about routers – like MAC address filtering and setting static IP addresses and dynamic DNS. There are network systems that offer these functions, but the associated costs are higher.

John Velasco / Digital Trends

Another thing that can disappoint people is that the Nest WiFi router only has a single Ethernet port. That means you have to purchase an Ethernet hub if you need to connect multiple devices to the network. Most mesh WiFi routers typically offer a single Ethernet port, but you also have some, like the Linksys Max-Stream AC2200 router, which are more generous with their four Ethernet ports.

While I appreciate the integration of Google Assistant into the Wi-Fi point, it would have been really beneficial to have an Ethernet connection as well – but unfortunately there is none.

Try these new Google Assistant features

Adjust the sensitivity of "Hey Google"

In busy or noisy areas, the Google Assistant may start accidentally. If you want to adjust the sensitivity when the wake-up phrase "Hey Google" is spoken, you can now do so via the Google Home app.

Interpreter mode

The Google Assistant interpreter mode can be useful if you have guests who speak another language. Instead of having to translate every spoken sentence, the interpreter mode simply translates conversations in real time – so conversations can be spoken naturally. You can activate it by saying "Hey Google, be my German translator" or "Hey Google, help me speak Spanish."

wash your hands

It is more important than ever to ensure that you wash your hands properly, especially if the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread. The Nest Mini offers a brand new feature to help children. You just say "Hey Google, help me wash my hands" and a melody will play from there for 20 seconds to give you a reasonable amount of time to wash your hands.

Find your keys

Isn't it annoying if you've left your keys somewhere at home while you're late for an appointment? With Google Nest Mini, you can track them down using any of Tile's Bluetooth trackers. To track them down, just say, "Hey Google, where are my keys?" From there, Google Assistant reports the last known location.

Stay up to date on COVID-19 news

Getting the latest news about the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic can be life-saving. For this reason, you can get the latest news about the situation by saying, "Hey Google, tell me the latest corona virus news." Google Assistant will then play sound bits from reliable sources.

Warranty information

Since it's stationary, there shouldn't be much concern that it will go bad. In this case, there is a one-year warranty that covers defects.

Our opinion

The Google Nest WiFi is still expensive at $ 269 for the starter pack. The integration of Google Assistant offers added value, but is also one of the easiest to configure and cover network systems for your entire home.

Are there any better alternatives?

If you're looking for something cheaper with the same range, consider the alternatives – like the Netgear Orbi, which costs $ 160 for the same configuration. The Netgear mesh system offers more range, but does not have the Smart Assistant feature that comes with the Nest Wifi point.

Another option is Amazon's new Eero router, which is a bargain at $ 100 for a 1-pack ($ 250 for a 3-pack). Both of these options offer the same simple setup as Google's Nest Wifi.

If you want more advanced setup options, consider the Linksys Velop MX5300 or Netgear XRM570 Nighthawk Pro Gaming WiFi Router. At $ 400 each, they're much more expensive for the routers themselves, but you'll get advanced network controls and multiple Ethernet ports for landline devices.

How long it will take?

Given the fact that the router and Wi-Fi point will be stationary, this should take some time undisturbed – similar to any network device.

Should you buy it

Yes. Not only can you expand WiFi coverage, the Nest Wifi system can also be used to control the various connected devices in your home.

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