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Tech & Science Google's Nest Wifi is a mesh router with sound and style

03:25  11 november  2019
03:25  11 november  2019 Source:   msn.com

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The Google Nest Wifi is a mesh wireless system and a follow-up to original Google Wifi from 2016. Without going too deep down the rabbit hole, there are different types of wireless routers but in recent years mesh routers have been gaining in popularity. A mesh router uses multiple extension points

Google ' s new Nest Wifi mesh router has greater range than the last version, but passes on Wi - Fi 6

a vase sitting on top of a wooden table: The Nest Wi-Fi router looks nice enough that you can keep it out in the open, which is also good for your network coverage.© Supplied The Nest Wi-Fi router looks nice enough that you can keep it out in the open, which is also good for your network coverage.

Blanketing your home in sweet Wi-Fi and sweet music, Nest Wifi could be the answer to your wireless woes. Yet there's still an Achilles' heel.

If your home is plagued with wireless black spots then mesh Wi-Fi is a winner; spreading several Wi-Fi hubs around the house to work in unison and appear as a single network.

Your devices roam seamlessly between the hubs, ensuring you still get a strong signal in the furthest reaches of your home.

Of course not everyone wants big, ugly Wi-Fi base stations spread around their home, but thankfully Google's tiny hubs look more elegant than most.

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Since Google first introduced its Google Wifi system three years ago at 9 for a three-pack, mesh routers have become a popular way to eliminate Announced at Google ’ s Pixel 4 hardware event , Nest Wifi is composed of a new, bulbous “ Router ” and a separate similarly shaped “Point” that now

Sanjay Noronha, Product Manager, Google Nest , says that Google has taken "everything you love about the original and made it even better". The new Nest Wifi system comprises two separate devices: The Nest Wifi router , which plugs directly into your modem, and the Nest Wifi point that expands

Talk the talk

Compared to the original Google Wifi, which was comprised of identical puck-shaped devices, the biggest change is that Nest Wifi has distinct designs for the main wireless router and the satellite points. The satellites double as smart speakers, letting you talk to the Google Assistant and play music with similar sound quality to the new Nest Mini.

The Nest Wi-Fi router, left, is a little bigger than the add-on points which double as smart speakers.© Supplied The Nest Wi-Fi router, left, is a little bigger than the add-on points which double as smart speakers.

Google has even thrown in a few voice-friendly features, such as the power to ask Google Assistant to pause internet access for a specific group of devices; a great way to ensure you have everyone's complete attention.

The Nest Wifi comes in a $399 two-pack with a wireless router and one satellite, or $549 with two satellites, beyond which extra satellites sell for $229 each.

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Google ' s no stranger to Wi - Fi hardware, getting started with the old OnHub routers before launching its first-gen Google Wifi three years ago. Turning the mesh points into supercharged Nest Minis is a really clever value-add that also stands to help improve signal strength through public placement.

For a reliable Wi - Fi connection, choose Nest Wifi . It gives your whole home mesh wifi coverage, plus a signal strong enough to handle up to 200 connected devices and fast enough to stream multiple 4K videos at a time.

The frustrating trade-off for smart assistant features is the loss of Ethernet ports on the satellites. This is a major hassle if you need Ethernet to connect devices at the other end of the house but, if you're stuck, you can still connect an old Google Wifi hub to your new Nest Wi-Fi network.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Google's app lets you take control of your network, though you can also issue some commands with your voice.© Supplied Google's app lets you take control of your network, though you can also issue some commands with your voice.

Strength to strength

Aside from Google Assistant, the Nest Wifi's other big selling point is a stronger signal and faster speeds. To be fair, the old Google Wifi was already more than fast enough to handle 100Mbps broadband speeds. You'd only appreciate the speed boost when transferring hefty files around your home.

More important than raw speed, the upgrade means you can place your hubs further apart. The improvement is clear, with the Nest Wifi hubs maintaining a strong wireless link when sitting in distant corners of my home where the old Google Wifi hubs struggled.

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Utilizing the best mesh Wi - Fi routers to provide solid coverage throughout your space, therefore, is better. Setting up is so simple that all you have to do to configure Google Wifi is to download an app to your smartphone, scan some QR codes and just place the nodes where you want around your house.

Mesh Routers Compared. Eero. Google Wifi . Linksys Velop. Mesh - router systems, like most pieces of networking equipment, aren't without drawbacks. Here are a few of the bigger ones. 1. High costs: A good mesh - router kit will cost 0 or more, with add-on satellites costing 0 to 0 each.

Google has also thrown in the Thread and Bluetooth Low Energy wireless IoT standards for talking directly to smart home gear, but has thumbed its nose at the popular Zigbee and Z-wave standards.

If you care about the fine details, it's worth noting the Nest Wifi still relies on 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5), even as the first 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) gear hits the shelves. Google's are dual-band 2.4/5GHz devices but, unlike more expensive mesh rivals, there isn't a third invisible network to help reduce wireless traffic jams.

Google has only upgraded the theoretical top speed on the router, not the satellites, so theoretically your top speed drops when you roam away from the main base. But this is all rather academic in your typical home and you'd struggle to notice the difference unless you really push your Wi-Fi network to the limit.

Burning bridges

What's more of a worry is that Nest Wifi still lacks a "bridge" mode. If you want to use its mesh features it insists on sitting at the heart of your home network, usurping the router supplied by your internet provider.

This means that wireless devices connected to the Nest Wi-Fi can't talk to wired devices connected to your existing router via Ethernet; which could be things like a desktop computer, network printer or network attached storage drive. But if your NBN home phone plugs into your existing router you can't ditch that existing router or activate its bridge mode to make it into a dumb modem; doing so would probably kill your phone.

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We tested top mesh routers from Netgear, Google , Linksys, Samsung and more to help you find the best way to cover your entire home in Wi - Fi . If you want an inexpensive mesh -networking solution, the Samsung SmartThings Wifi mesh router is the best mesh router for those on a budget, offering

Google introduced Google Wifi way back in 2016, and was arguably the company that brought more attention to the whole mesh network market. In addition, each base station looks like a Scandinavian- style , double-stacked hockey puck that Google described as a "visually subtle" disk.

One solution is to buy an Ethernet switch so you can plug all your devices into the Nest Wi-Fi router’s single Ethernet port, along with your existing router tasked with the single job of running your home phone.

Some telcos like Aussie Broadband can come to your rescue by letting you ditch their router and run your home phone from another device, like a little Sipura/Cisco VoIP box. You're out of luck if you're with one of the big players like Telstra and Optus; you either lose Google's mesh features, split your wired and wireless networks, buy an Ethernet switch or lose your home phone.

This might sound like a minor issue, and not everyone wants a home phone line, but it will be a big deal in some households. It's not the kind of gotcha you want to discover after handing over your cash, or recommending Nest Wifi to family and friends who still rely on a home phone.

So what's the verdict?

Nest Wifi has the potential to be your wireless saviour but, if for whatever reason you're wedded to your current broadband router, make sure you consider the implications of the lack of bridge mode before taking the plunge.

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