Google Wifi, which is hitting stores soon, is sold individually for $129 or as a three-pack set of $299. Google says a single unit can cover a 1,500-square-foot home, while a three-pack will span a 4,500-square-foot residence. Additional units can be added for coverage beyond that.
I’ve spent the past week testing a three-pack of Google Wifi in my modest, two-story home. To put Google’s claims to the test, I compared it to other routers on the market. Though my home isn’t especially large, it presents challenges to traditional routers, thanks to older construction and lots of walls. It’s an ideal candidate for a mesh network system, and all three systems provided much better coverage than a single router has in the past. Google Wifi, while not the fastest system I tested, hits a good balance between speed, coverage, ease of use, and cost, which makes it a compelling option if you’re looking at a mesh router system.
Under the hood, the Google Wifi has AC1200 2x2 Wave 2 capabilities and supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n/ac networking. It is secured with the standard WPA2-PSK protocol. The Wi-Fi hardware in each unit isn’t especially remarkable, but when you have multiple points in your home, the need for each one to be high-powered diminishes.
Setting up the Wifi system is done through Google’s new Wifi app for iOS and Android. The app walks you through setting up a new network, naming it, securing it with a password, and placing the Wifi units throughout your home. It also lets you check your network speeds, from both your ISP to the modem and from Google Wifi to your device, and the strength of signal between each node. Google’s Network Assist feature will provide tips on how to improve performance by moving a unit to a different location or will tell you when the internet from your ISP is not functioning.
In addition, the app lets you see how many devices are connected to your network, pause Wi-Fi on specific devices, prioritize others, and easily create a guest network. It also has very basic smart home features, which are limited to controlling Philips Hue lights at the moment. The app allows for remote access to the network, so you can manage it even when you’re not at home.
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