During the Pixel 4 hardware event held in New York City on October 15, 2019, Google boasted about its new kid in the block, Google Nest Wi-Fi system.
The mesh-capable system hit the streets of major USA cities with a bang early November the same year. We wondered, was the noise worth the world’s time and hearing?
It took us several tests to see what this new kid was offering against other similar products. For now, you are the judge!
Google Nest Wi-Fi is the successor of Google Wi-Fi; the firstborn in the family of Google’s mesh wireless routers. It prides itself on being a three-some solution to making your home Wi-Fi dependable and lightning-fast.
Though you can skip one of the parts and still get to the Promised Land, you have at your disposal the Google Nest Wi-Fi router, Nest Wi-Fi point, and the Google Home App.
But before glorifying or crucifying the system as a whole, let’s first strip each partner to the core and understand their role in the affair, shall we?
Google Nest Wi-Fi Router
This is the chief Kahuna in the gang. The simultaneous dual-band Nest Wi-Fi router operates in the AC2200 realm promising a theoretical speed of 2200Mbps.
You are looking at a 2x2 2.4GHz band delivering 400Mbps and the 4x4 5GHz running at 1733Mbps. It is powered by a 1.4GHz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, and 4GB Flash memory. The router is based on Wi-Fi 5. Impressive!
With such credentials, the Nest Wi-Fi router vows to blanket your entire studio apartment with a strong, reliable Wi-Fi signal, no interruptions experienced.
You are assured of simultaneous HD video streaming on multiple devices, video conferencing and lag-free gaming courtesy of MU-MIMO technology.
With beamforming at work, your Wi-Fi devices receive focused signal hence improved reception instead of a scattered broadcast.
The router also supports band-steering to select the best radio band to deliver network traffic to the devices and uses WPA3 security.
All this happens within 2200 square feet coverage and the low traffic consuming devices treated as equals in the Wi-Fi party.
Nest Wi-Fi router has 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports; WAN to speak to your modem and the LAN port to connect to a network switch, smart TV or any other wired device in your home.
It is powered by a 15W adaptor using the barrel-like jack instead of USB-C used in its predecessor. More on that later.
On aesthetics, the Nest Wi-Fi router has a marshmallow-like shape; a dome measuring 4.3 inches tall and 3.6 inches wide.
It has a smooth texture and snow in color; you could almost miss it if placed on shelf full of vases were it not for the small dot of LED indicator light when turned on.
It's lightning-fast and reliable Wi-Fi speed enables it to support up to 100 devices. Meaning, you can now carry your Wi-Fi device from one room to another without ever of losing internet connection, even when on a video call.
Speaking of rooms, should your studio apartment spread beyond the router’s coverage ability, a Nest Wi-Fi point or a second Nest Wi-Fi router is needed.
Every extra router added into the home Wi-Fi network only needs powering and you have an extra 2200 square feet covered.
Not to mention another 100 Wi-Fi devices and an extra wired device brought into the Wi-Fi party.
From our experience, Google updates the Nest Wi-Fi router ever now and then to keep your network at top performance.
Nest Wi-Fi Point
This fellow doesn’t work alone; you need the Nest Wi-Fi router to complete the equation because it can’t connect to the modem. Think of it as a network extender meant to work with the router in star or daisy chain configurations.
It is an AC1200 dual-band extender delivering 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 866Mbps on the 5GHz, backed by 768MB RAM and 512MB flash memory. It supports 100 devices and extends signal coverage by 1600 square feet.
Adding one Nest Wi-Fi point to a mesh network powered by Nest Wi-Fi router increases the number of supported devices to 200 and coverage to 3800 square feet; suitable for a small family home.
You are at liberty to add several other points according to your needs.
Having it in your network ushers the kind of benefits you get from a Nest mini smart speaker and then the expanded connectivity.
You are looking at Bluetooth radio to deliver news, controlling connected smart home devices, playing music and making hands-free calls.
It comes with Far-field microphones for use with Google Assistant and 40mm drivers delivering 360 degrees immersive sound in the room. The availability of Google assistant lets you seek for information at will.
The point’s base glows white when you are in session, but should you want some peace of mind and privacy, the mute button is at your disposal.
Like the Nest Wi-Fi router, Nest Wi-Fi point is round-shaped but a little shorter; 4 inches high and 3.4 inches wide. It also uses a 15W power adapter with a barrel-like jack.
Google made Nest Wi-Fi point more appealing by producing it in 3 different colors; mist, snow, and sand, but all have a smooth finishing and marry well with your home decor.
So far, do you see why Google made so much noise regarding the Google Nest Wi-Fi system?
Google Home App
This App puts the power to manage your network in your hands. It makes setting up the Nest Wi-Fi system blissful.
Google Home App takes over the show once installed in your smartphone; Android or iOS, the router connected to the modem and powered.
Part of setup includes setting up a Google account, creating and joining the Google Home Network and connecting to the Nest Wi-Fi router.
It then allows you to name your network, set the password and location. This process takes less than 90 seconds.
In most parts of setting up your home Wi-Fi, Google Home App lets you get away with ‘Next’ or ‘Yes’. No genius needed.
Google Home App is quick to notice Nest Wi-Fi points in the network if any. It even advises you on the best location for the points. Next, you have Google Assistant to set up where you can choose to have optimization done for you.
This involves sharing your data with Google. If you hate reading Terms of Service, opt-out in this area, the Nest Wi-Fi system will still work. At the end of the network setup, Google Home App performs two major tests.
First, it measures internet upload and download speeds; your modem and Internet Service Provider have a huge role to play in the kind of results you get.
Then it checks if your mesh network is fine by testing the links between the router and Nest Wi-Fi points. The results are displayed to impress you.
Now you can go on and stream, play, listen to music and send emails or surf. You can also tamper around with the Device tab or Family and Guest Network tabs.
Google Home App allows you to configure and manage the guest network for your friends, choose devices that should get faster speeds on-demand and decide whether or not to engage WPA3 security.
On parental control, Google Home App allows you to manage screen time, especially for the young Wi-Fi users.
You can also choose the kind of websites they can access or cut off internet access from their devices when you need their undivided attention. The same is possible for all other users.
The one part we felt Google let the world down was on settings meant for power users.
To access and configure NAT type, LAN, WAN, DNS, control port management and give traffic preference to specific devices on the network, you have to install the Google Wi-Fi App. The App made for the Google Wi-Fi system. Bummer!
But that’s not the only failing point; Google forgot to include malware protection for the Nest Wi-Fi system in the Home App.
That leaves the responsibility of protecting users in your home network in your hands.
What’s More on Nest Wi-Fi System?
While we would want to celebrate and recommend throwing out your old router and extender, understand that this system has no USB port. Google Nest Wi-Fi’s predecessor, Google Wi-Fi has a USB-C port but for powering the device. Quite unexpected!
A little on the first generation mesh-capable Wi-Fi system may come in handy so you know where Google’s excitement came from.
The simultaneous AC1200 dual-band Google Wi-Fi was launched in October 2016 as the first generation of Google mesh network devices.
It came with a promise to deliver a theoretical speed of 1200Mbps, seamless connectivity within 1500 square feet for every satellite and reduce the pain of managing smart devices online.
It runs on 710MHz quad-core processor, 512MB RAM, and 4GB eMMC flash memory.
Like Nest Wi-Fi, it supports Wi-Fi 5, has two Gigabit Ethernet ports; WAN and LAN, beamforming capability, Bluetooth radio and accesses regular automatic updates to keep your network performance on the check.
It also requires you to have a Google account for it to work.
The major differences between Google Wi-Fi and its successor include the use of WPA2-PSK for security and Google Wi-Fi App for setup and management of the Wi-Fi network. This is the App used for advanced settings in the Nest Wi-Fi router.
Unlike in the Nest Wi-Fi system, Google Wi-Fi only has satellites. So instead of deciding whether to add a point or router to expand coverage as in the second generation, you only need another satellite.
Extra satellites used to expand the network only need to stay powered to work. Use the LAN port for the wired devices.
The satellite is cylindrical in shape, measuring 2.7 inches high, 4.1 inches wide and is white in color. It has a ring in its vertical mid acting as the LED indicator for various states.
Need For Upgrade: Is it Necessary?
Still, we want you to judge.
While the Nest Wi-Fi system gives you an option between adding a router or a Nest Wi-Fi point, Google Wi-Fi only recommends adding a satellite.
We believe having such an option is great, especially when it comes to preventing resource wastage.
With Nest Wi-Fi, using a point to expand the network makes more economic sense that when using yet another router.
Replacing Google Wi-Fi satellite connected to the modem with Nest Wi-Fi router demands resetting your whole network to a factory setting.
That allows it to pick all devices anew including any satellites in the network, thanks to Nest Wi-Fi’s backward compatibility.
It communicates well with the satellites. The reset and setup process may take well over 30 minutes.
But if you just want to add a Nest Wi-Fi point or router into a network governed by a Google Wi-Fi satellite, no reset is needed.
However, you will notice a considerable increase in streaming speed, coverage space and the number of devices.
Again, setting up Nest Wi-Fi is faster and friendlier than the Google Wi-Fi setup.
But suppose you have another breed of mesh wireless router and you want to upgrade using Google Nest Wi-Fi, we recommend that you consider its specifications before conducting a major overhaul.
We noticed that the Google Nest Wi-Fi system doesn’t have a dedicated backhaul band to maximize on network performance and stability.
That leaves us wondering if Google compromised this system.
Several mesh-capable wireless systems in the market have the dedicated band, most are tri-band, not dual-band. A good example is TP-Link’s AC2200 Deco M9 Plus.
Again, considering that Google Wi-Fi hit the market in 2016, Google Nest Wi-Fi in 2019, and both use Wi-Fi 5, do the math.
Chances of Google producing a new mesh-capable wireless system using Wi-Fi 6 less a year from now stand at least 90%. Who knows, they may even include USB ports and a backhaul band!
You don’t want to hate the device a month after buying it. Besides, the MK62 Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6 system is already on board with the technology and has higher coverage than the Nest Wi-Fi router.
If you are attracted to a beautiful mesh-capable wireless system, delivering reliable internet at high speed and ensuring a safe home network through regular updates, Google Nest Wi-Fi is it!