What does Google Nest Wi-Fi do?
Google Nest Wi-Fi ensures that every Wi-Fi device in your home is serviced with dependable high-speed Wi-Fi courtesy of its three-part system made of Google Nest Wi-Fi router, Google Home App, and Nest Wi-Fi Point while keeping your network safe.
Being a mesh system means there is one of more access points handling the Wi-Fi signal to ensure that it blankets your home eliminating dead zones.
A mesh system also permits the wireless devices to roam from one room of your home to another without having to log into a new network or drop signal.
The Wi-Fi signal is bounced from the router to another or a point until all Wi-Fi devices are catered for. You are guaranteed consistent Wi-Fi signals for data hogging devices and low-traffic users alike while treating each as equals. This allows online activities such as HD streaming on multiple devices, lag-free online gaming, high-speed surfing, social media updating, and emailing. All in the same network.
How Google Nest Wi-Fi Works
Though Google Nest Wi-Fi is a three-part system, one of the members can be eliminated. The Nest Wi-Fi Point can be replaced with yet another Nest Wi-Fi router or left out completely if your home is small.
Most small and medium-size homes Google Nest Wi-Fi router and Google Home App. Large homes may require the entire system while a very large home with two or more floors needs several Nest Wi-Fi Points spaced out around the home.
Google Nest Wi-Fi Router
This is a simultaneous dual-band Nest Wi-Fi router with 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports; a WAN to connect to your modem and on to your ISP, and LAN for your wired devices requiring internet such as a smart TV.
It promises a theoretical speed of 2.2Gbps with a 2x2 2.4GHz band delivering 400Mbps while the 4x4 5GHz band runs at 1733Mbps.
Google Nest Wi-Fi router is powered by a 1.4GHz Quad-core processor and built with a high-performance ML hardware engine.
It has 1GB RAM and 4GB Flash Memory. It is based on Wi-Fi 5, has an advanced security chip, receives regular automatic security updates, and embraces WPA3 encryption.
The Nest Wi-Fi router supports Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) enabling multiple devices to access data at the same time instead of following the traditional sequential access.
It also supports a beamforming technique that focuses on Wi-Fi signal to each wireless device to ensure reliable connection and faster transmission of data. The traditional method had the wireless signal broadcasted in all directions weakening the connection.
Proactive band steering is yet another technique supported by Nest Wi-Fi routers. It enables selecting the most befitting radio bands for each wireless device in your home. This way the device is at its best performance all the time.
Google Nest Wi-Fi router can cover up to 2200 square feet of your home with strong Wi-Fi supporting up to 100 wireless devices all actively using the internet.
That is adequate for a small or medium-size home with multiple devices accessing the internet without compromising each other regardless of the amount of traffic each demands.
Nest Wi-Fi Router has a marshmallow-like shape measuring 3.56 inches high and 4.33 inches in diameter. It weighs about 13 ounces.
Its exterior enclosure is made from 45% post-consumer recycled plastic and is snow white in color. It uses a barrel jack power port instead of the USB-C port used in its predecessor. And it is Bluetooth-enable.
Google Home App
Google Home App gives you control over your home Wi-Fi enabling you to manage it from a smartphone. It makes setting up the Google Nest Wi-Fi Router easy. It is the same App you use while setting up smart devices in your home. It is available on Google Play Store and Apple Store for free.
You need to install the App on an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet and create a Google account before setting up your network.
Once your router is powered and connected to your modem with an Ethernet cable, the App discovers it and guides you through on-screen instructions to create a name, and join Google Home Network. Then it connects the Google Nest Wi-Fi Router.
It also guides you on setting a password and location. Google Home App also guides you on the best places to put your extra router or Nest Wi-Fi Points if you wish to use any. This process takes less than 2 minutes to complete.
The App helps you optimize your network, set up Google Assistant, test your upload and download speeds as well as find out if the mesh network is working well.
On managing your home Wi-Fi network, use Google Home App to configure the guest network and allocate higher speeds for devices that need such at a certain time such as streaming and online gaming devices.
By default, Google’s cloud gaming platform, Google Stadia has its traffic set on high priority.
Use the App to view all connected devices before grouping them for easier management.
It also gives you parental superpower over your network. You can manage screen time for various users, choose the kind of websites that can be accessed in your network, and pause the internet during dinner time.
When setup is complete, your Google Nest Wi-Fi router’s Wi-Fi LED located on its side should be solid white in color. That indicates that it is online and ready to serve you. If it is not lit, the router is off.
If solid yellow, your router is factory resetting and when red, there is trouble with your device. You could either reset it using Google Home App or contact the manufacturer for a swap.
Nest Wi-Fi Point
Expanding your mesh network to flood the Wi-Fi signal to every corner of your home is made easy, fun, and affordable with Nest Wi-Fi Point.
It is a Nest Mini smart speaker with network expanding capabilities. It communicates with the router and wireless devices only, never the modem.
The Nest Wi-Fi Point is a simultaneous dual-band access point promising a theoretical speed of 1.2Gbps; 400Mbps delivered on the 2.4GHz band and 866Mbps on the 5GHz band with a high-performance ML hardware engine.
It is powered by a 1.4GHz Quad-core processor, 768MB RAM, and 512MB Flash memory. It also supports Wi-Fi 5, receives automatic security updates, and embraces WPA3 encryption.
Nest Wi-Fi Point pushes your Wi-Fi signal for another 1600 square feet from where Google Nest Wi-Fi's ability begins to wither. Think of it as the dead zone exterminator. That allows an addition of 100 wireless devices into your home Wi-Fi network.
The smart speaker side of the Nest Wi-Fi Point delivers 360 degrees immersive sound via the 40mm driver, uses 3 far-field microphones for capturing your commands when instructing Google Assistant.
The holes at the top of the barrel are the microphones. When the Point is on, some lights shine between the microphone holes. Those are the volume controls and can also be tapped to pause or resume playback.
Nest Wi-Fi Point has Bluetooth 5.0 enabling you to pair it with your phone and play music.
You can ask the smart speakers to stream music from your favorite provider, make hands-free calls, seek information from the internet, and use it as a smart home hub to control other smart devices in your home.
Note, the speakers’ ability is good enough as a table buddy, avoid the temptation of turning them to the party type. They are not called for such.
When you call out Nest Wi-Fi Point by the wake word, 'Hey Google' or 'Ok Google', Google Assistant activates and its bottom part lights up.
This way you know it is listening and getting ready to obey your command. You can mute it when you do not want it to eavesdrop on your conversations.
You know the device is listening when the light pulsing fast in white. This could also mean you have a notification or reminder you need to attend to. Call out, “Hey Google, what are my reminders?” Google Assistant then reads out the reminders.
Nest Wi-Fi Point assumes the same shape as the Google Nest Wi-Fi Router but measures 3.43 inches high and 4.02 in diameter. It weighs 12 ounces and has a barrel jack power port.
Nest Wi-Fi Points come in three colors; mist, snow, and sand, and they have a smooth exterior made from 40% post-consumer recycled plastic. It is easy to miss it if placed near flower vases.
Here is a little history of Google’s journey to the Mesh-capable world to help you see where they are coming from.
Google's First Generation Mesh-capable Wi-Fi System
Google Nest Wi-Fi's predecessor, Google Wi-Fi was the first in Google's mesh wireless system lineage.
It was launched in December 2016 in the USA. Think of it as Google testing the mesh waters against diehard competitors like TP-Link and Nighthawk Netgear.
While the second-generation system is accommodative allowing devices supported by Google Wi-Fi participate in the Wi-Fi party, there are several differences between the two systems.
First, setting up the Google Nest Wi-Fi router requires Google Home App, but with its predecessor, Google Wi-Fi App does the magic.
If you are upgrading your home network, you may want to hold on to the old App in case you need to work on the power user settings.
Google Home App does not allow you to configure NAT type, LAN, WAN, DNS or to control ports. These settings are only available via Google Wi-Fi App.
Second, Google Wi-Fi comes in form of satellites only instead of a Wi-Fi router and points. The main satellite connects with the modem while all others only need powering to receive the Wi-Fi signal and bounce it further away.
One satellite is capable of covering up to 1500 square feet with stable Wi-Fi supporting up to 100 devices.
The simultaneous dual-band device promises a theoretical speed of 1200Mbps and is based on Wi-Fi 5. It is powered by a Quad-core ARM processor, 512MB RAM, and 4GB eMMC Flash memory.
Google Wi-Fi satellite has 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports; a WAN and LAN. The main satellite uses the WAN port to connect to the modem while its LAN connects to a wired device in the network if any.
All other satellites do not need to connect to the router so their WAN ports remain vacant; a waste of resources if you may.
All other satellites in your home Wi-Fi network receive the Wi-Fi signal from their fellows or the main satellite. Every satellite has a reset button at the bottom.
You can also reset a satellite via the App to get rid of all the content about it in the cloud. Use any of the reset methods to reset the device if it fails.
Google Wi-Fi satellite's exterior enclosure is made from 49% recycled material. It is cylindrical in shape measuring 2.71 inches high, 4.18 inches in diameter, and weighing 11.9 ounces.
Is Google Wi-Fi Any Good?
Google Wi-Fi supports MU-MIMO technology, star and daisy network configurations, proactive band steering, and beamforming.
It also has self-healing capabilities such that when one of its satellites in your home network fails, communication with the affected devices is routed through another satellite.
Its compatibility with Google Nest Wi-Fi allows Google Wi-Fi to participate in the more recent network without interruption. The two generations marry well into each other’s' network.
Since Google is still sending security updates for Google Wi-Fi satellites as it is the Google Nest Wi-Fi unless, for genuine speed issues, there is no rush for the upgrade.
Does Google Nest Improve Wi-Fi?
In some way it does.
Whether you replace one of the satellites, not the main, with the Google Nest Wi-Fi router or Nest Wi-Fi Point, expect the network to operate at a higher speed.
This is because the Google Nest Wi-Fi systems operate at a much higher speed than the predecessor. Use Google Home App to test upload and download speed to prove it.
The other way Google Nest Wi-Fi improves the Wi-Fi is if you replace the main Google Wi-Fi satellite with a Google Nest Router.
The process requires resetting the satellites and the router to factory settings so when they come back up, the router can discover all the satellites. The process may take up to 30 minutes to complete.
If after replacing the satellite with Google Nest Wi-Fi Router you still feel the temptation to push the network speed much higher, add routers in the network instead of satellites. The former is faster.
Is Nest Wi-Fi better than Google Wi-Fi?
Yes and No.
Let us begin with the disappointing bits. On matters concerning security, we expected that Google Nest Wi-Fi would jump to Wi-Fi 6 since Google Wi-Fi is based on Wi-Fi 5. But to our disappointment, they did not.
The dormancy leaves us wondering if Google overlooked the fact that some of their competitors, like Netgear Orbi AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh router and NETGEAR Nighthawk AX1800 (MK62) Wi-Fi 6 System had already crossed that bridge.
Any user expecting internet connection at the speeds of 500Mbps may not sign for the Nest Wi-Fi router due to lack of Wi-Fi 6 support.
The tech world is futuristic and it is just a matter of time before such speed is available in major cities around the world. That kills the temptation to upgrade from Google Wi-Fi to Nest Wi-Fi.
We also noted that Google Nest Wi-Fi does not have a dedicated backhaul to allow network performance maximization.
This is common in tri-band systems where one of the 5GHz band is purposed for communication between the router and the Points. All wireless devices are expected to communicate over the other two bands; 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
Google did not seem to notice competitors like TP-Link’s AC2200 Deco M9 Plus had played the tri-band trick to make their routers better performers. Another discouragement to move to Google Nest Wi-Fi system.
The final blow came when Google failed to integrate a USB port in the Nest Wi-Fi router.
While the port, USB-C existed in Google Wi-Fi though as a powering port, its complete absence in the second generation mesh-capable system is a total disappointment.
While Google Wi-Fi wastes WAN ports on every satellite that does not connect to the router, Nest Wi-Fi Point avoids the waste. The second-generation system’s Point does not have any Ethernet ports.
That sounds good until you require plugging the smart TV upstairs or the gaming console into a wired network connection.
You also cannot link your Nest Wi-Fi Point to the router via Ethernet cable forming some kind of a dedicated backhaul for better performance.
The absence of the LAN port in the Point sounds more like a blessing, or curse, in disguise.
Google Nest Wi-Fi router comes with only one Ethernet port meaning you can only plug one wired device in your entire home network. If more than one device needs the wired connection, an Ethernet hub is needed to make provision. An extra purchase.
In our opinion, Google seems to focus more on making Google Assistant wiser and faster, without making the hardware the voice assistant lives in any better.
Judging by the two launches; 2016 and 2019, upgrading from Google Wi-Fi to Google Nest Wi-Fi in 2020 feels uncomfortable. What are the chances that they will launch another mesh system soon?
Await may be necessary, after all, they just launched a Nest smart speaker sometime this month!
On the yes side of the coin, we identified speed as the first reason why Google Nest Wi-Fi system is better than Google Wi-Fi. Though these are theoretical speeds, you cannot ignore the fact that the second-generation system is almost twice as fast as the first.
Second, Nest Wi-Fi embraces the 4x4 antenna configuration enabling stronger simultaneous MU-MIMO communication as compared to Google Wi-Fi’s 2x2 transmission. This is a great boost in speed and efficiency.
Then there is the smart speaker aspect added into Nest Wi-Fi Point and missing in Google Wi-Fi. That gives the second-generation system superpowers since the smart speakers have the smart home hub capability.
It enables you to call out Google to run the speed test for your home network or pause the Wi-Fi for everyone, or a group that disobeys.
All these hands-free!
On aesthetics, Google Wi-Fi’s glaring blue LED light on the satellite’s waistline is replaced by a more gentle light at the bottom of Nest Wi-Fi Point.
The router does not feature much light beside the single LED spot on its side.
There are more colors for the Wi-Fi-extending Point as compared to the old version and its edges and that of the router are smoothened making both cuddly.
Nest Wi-Fi Verdict
Google seems to have a great launching plan when it comes to Wi-Fi systems; from 2016 to 2019 with a myriad of changes enticing users all over the world to make that move.
If you still have one foot outside the door in regards to upgrading to the Google Nest Wi-Fi system, it is time to walk fully in.
The temptation to reject Google Nest Wi-Fi system over the failure to include Wi-Fi 6, dedicated backhaul, USB, and LAN ports despite calling it a better deal is obvious.
Especially with the price of the system staying much higher than that of the predecessor. But Google must have seen that coming and included a pile of goodies in the new kid.
The three-year difference saw a mega growth in speed, better connection, and implementation of the best security standard ever.
Their step to have a dedicated router makes the buying decision easy and the backward compatibility more enticing.
Not to mention the inclusion of Google Assistant in Nest Wi-Fi Point making it a smart speaker worthy of running your home.
So if you are looking for a great mesh system for your home, Google Nest Wi-Fi has your back. Its benefits are worth the wait and forgiveness.