Google Wifi review: The best way to blanket your entire home with Wi-Fi

If you want to extend the fast internet connection to every corner of your home, Google Wifi is the best way to do it. You just need two things:

  • An Internet-connected iOS or Android mobile device, such as a phone or tablet
  • A Google account, which you can get for free

This is because, unlike most routers, there is no web-based interface, and the new Wi-Fi system can only be configured and controlled via the new Google Wifi mobile application. Once configured, Google Wifi will always stay connected to Google and will log into your Google account whenever you want to manage it.

Read more: Wi-Fi 6: Better and faster internet is coming this year – here’s everything you need to know

Google claims that Wifi does not collect data on user activity, such as the sites you are visiting. By default, it appears to collect hardware, app, and network information only. However, you can disable it in the Privacy section of the settings.

However, a constant connection to Google is required. This is a bargain for some. Not all home mesh Wi-Fi systems, which use multiple “satellite” devices to extend the Wi-Fi signal, require a vendor connection to function – the Eero ago while the Netgear Orbi it does not do it. Most home routers don’t require this at all.

But that’s not something most people will worry about, plus it will keep the device protected from hacking through regular automatic updates. So if you like this setup, Google Wifi has the best balance of ease of use, performance, and price.

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Google Wifi includes three identical hardware components.

Josh Miller / HDOT

What I like about Google Wifi

The price: At just $ 129 for a single unit or $ 299 for a set of three, Google Wifi is cheaper than other Wi-Fi systems like the Eero or Orbi. (Google hasn’t said whether Wifi will go on sale in the UK or Australia, but those prices convert to around £ 100 or AU $ 170 and £ 235 or AU $ 400.)

It’s really easy to use – it took me about 15 minutes to set up all three units using an Android phone. The whole process was self-explanatory and, dare I say, fun.

It’s fast. In terms of data throughput, it tested well for a dual-stream AC1200 router, with a sustained maximum Wi-Fi speed of over 470 megabits per second.

The nature of Wi-Fi, however, means that every time you extend the signal wirelessly, there will be signal loss, which means substantially lower speeds. You can mitigate this problem by placing the satellite units around the first router unit. To avoid this completely, you can connect the units together using network cables.

Coverage and reliability are exceptional: As a single unit or as a three-unit system, Google Wifi passed my 48-hour stress test with flying colors. During testing I set it up to transfer a lot of data between multiple wireless clients (four laptops in this case). Wifi did this without any disconnection. The system also has excellent signal transmission, allowing you to walk around the house, seamlessly connecting from one unit to another without disconnecting from the internet. I tried this during a call over Wi-Fi and the conversation was not affected at all.

Google says the system constantly scans the airspace to find the cleanest channel and the best Wi-Fi band (5 GHz or 2.4 GHz) that a client can connect to. I’ve used it in a home with several other routers and the Google Wifi network has remained stable, which definitely adds credit to its claim.

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Each unit has a Gigabit WAN and a Gigabit LAN port and can function as a router or extender.

Josh Miller / HDOT

OK, so how exactly does it work?

In many ways, Google Wifi is the evolution of the company’s previous home routers, i OnHubs. The difference with Wifi is that instead of a single unit, you can have up to three. Each hardware unit is called a Wifi access point. If you get a single unit, you only have one spot, which can cover about 1,200 square feet, which is suitable for a small home or medium-sized apartment. More points (up to six) scattered around the house will increase the coverage area accordingly. A three-unit set can easily cover a 4,000 square foot home or even larger.

All Google Wifi units are identical. When multiple units are used in a home, the first unit functions as the primary router that connects to an Internet source, such as a broadband modem. Additional units extend Wi-Fi coverage to create a single Wi-Fi mesh network. Depending on the layout of your home, you can place Wifi points one or two rooms away from each other to maximize Wi-Fi coverage. The Google Wifi app can help you determine the best location by measuring the connection between the units.

The app shows the entire home network in an easy to understand layout. You can use it to view your entire home network, quickly prioritize your broadband connection to any particular device, and pause the internet on one or a group of devices. You can also use it to find out which Wifi point a particular client is connected to and customize some network settings offered by Google Wifi, including guest network, IP booking and port forwarding. Everything can be done with just a few taps on the phone screen. Google says it will continue to update Wifi with more features, such as voice control (via the phone, Google Home is Amazon Alexa) and support for other devices, such as Nest thermostat. Be sure to check back to find out how these features work.

So yes, Google Wifi has a lot to love. It offers both ease of use and Wi-Fi coverage. It also has excellent performance. And there’s more: if you already own one of the Google OnHubs, starting today, it will automatically update to be part of the Wifi ecosystem and use the same Google Wifi app. This means that, in addition to being a standalone router as it has always been, any OnHub can also function as a Wifi point, in the same way as a Google Wifi unit.

HDOT Labs Wi-Fi system performance

Google Wifi (single router)

Netgear Orbi (single router)

Netgear Orbi (via an extender)

Linksys Velop (single router)

Portal (via an extender)

Linksys Velop (via an extender)

Google Wifi (via an extender)

Almond 3 (via an extender)

Legend:

Close range

Long range

Note:

Measured in megabits per second. Longer bars mean better performance.

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