Google Wifi arrived in the US in December 2016, and we’ve recently gotten our hands on the equipment to test setting up a mesh network for ourselves. The puck-shaped routers are sold individually for $129 and in a three pack for $299. You can fix your home’s Wi-Fi coverage problems once and for all with these, and we’ll tell you how.
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Google Wifi has been around for quite some time in the US, and it’s even expanding to Europe now. With these little Wi-Fi hotspots, Google wants to bring Wi-Fi coverage to every last corner of your home. In a world where every toaster and refrigerator can be quickly and securely connected to Wi-Fi, needing such a solution is a very modern concern.
Google Wifi connects with your existing modem via Ethernet cable. Each little cylinder is completely identical, so it doesn’t matter which one you set as the node. From it, you can expand the wireless network, the so-called “mesh network”. Compared to previous methods of expanding coverage, mesh networks ensures higher speeds and lower latency, on account of the IEEE 802.11s connectivity standard. This is true even if you connect several devices in series.
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And if you move from one Wi-Fi zone to another during a WhatsApp video call, the mesh network will maintain the data stream without breaking connection. We want to test this more thoroughly in the coming weeks.
The downside of the small Wi-Fi pucks is that they don’t offer their own modem. If you use a router from your cable company, you’ll need to continue using it as a modem. Nevertheless, you can and should deactivate the Wi-Fi functionality on it in order to clear the channel for your new Google Wifi system. Then, activate the first Wi-Fi hotspot via the Ethernet cable on your router’s Ethernet port. Now you can enjoy significantly better Wi-Fi quality.
Google Wifi can only be installed through an app. Once you install this, you’ll initially be able to find devices via Bluetooth. You can then establish a Wi-Fi connection after scanning the QR code of each Wi-Fi hotspot. During the installation, you’ll set a network identifier and password to hook up further devices and even laptops to the Wi-Fi system.
Google Wifi has two additional gigabit Ethernet ports. You can connect your computer and smart home devices to these using cables. You no longer need to run long cables all the way from your router in the basement to the computer on the second floor!
Google is constantly developing the quality of its routers, and delivers many updates. The app already offers several functions which other routers don’t have, for example:
- Search for the best Wi-Fi channel every five minutes
- Testing the speed of the internet provider: am I getting what I paid for?
- Online scheduling for individual devices
- Prioritizing individual devices
- Guest network
- Admin access for certain Google accounts
- Rights management for smart home control
And what about data protection?
At a presentation of the system, Google Wifi’s senior product manager Ben Brown assured that hotspots and internet activity would not be monitored. He claims that only those metrics necessary to further optimize Wi-Fi functionality will be transmitted anonymously to Google. He explains further that his department is only responsible for making money with products, so collecting user data in this case isn’t so much of a priority as with Google’s search engine. And so, we come to the final question…
What does Google Wifi cost?
The price of Google Wifi depends on whether you want to start with one router, or get a three pack to blanket a larger home with Wi-Fi coverage. The only thing that makes sense for a large house is the triple pack, and that costs a hefty $299. Keep in mind that Google Wifi does not completely replace your router if you don’t have a modem yet, though. If you use a modem already and start with a single Google Wi-Fi hotspot, you’ll pay $129 each. The devices are available in the Google Store as well as at Best Buy, and you can find discounts on Amazon.