Google Nest Wifi will solve any slow home broadband problems or patchy Wi-Fi woes
Given that Google’s entire business is online, you’d think they would be best placed to ensure you get rock solid Wi-Fi in every room of your house. And you’d be absolutely right.
Confusingly, Google Nest Wifi is the successor to the Google Wifi system announced back in October 2016. The mesh network has been rebranded under the new Google Nest banner, which Google is using for all of its hardware efforts (something that has been a long time coming, given that the Mountain View-based company first bought Nest for $3.2billion back in January 2014). When we put together our original Google Wifi review, we were floored by the mesh router system which single-handedly solved all of our home Wi-Fi woes.
To do this, Google has a main hub that plugs directly into the router that was installed by your Internet Service Provide (ISP) and is then complimented by a number of nodes scattered across your home to boost the Wi-Fi signal, which can struggle to penetrate through walls and floors. As you meander from room to room, Google will quietly move your devices to the node with the strongest signal. This all happens behind your back but should result in corners of your home that previously couldn’t get a whisper of Wi-Fi suddenly becoming thriving hotspots for FaceTime calls, smart lightbulbs, and more.
Google Nest Wifi includes a hub and Google Assistant-boasting extenders
Unlike Amazon’s rival Eero mesh system, where all the nodes are interchangeable, Google’s Nest Wi-Fi has a main hub and a series of marshmallow-like extenders that double-up as smart speakers, complete with hands-free access to the chatty Google Assistant to set timers, listen to the radio, control your smart boiler, order takeaway… all the usual Alexa-style tricks.
Not only does this save you buying any Google Nest Mini speakers for some rooms in your house, but it also means you’re more inclined to place the nodes out in the open (and not squirrelled away behind a bookcase) which will help boost your Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, this new Google Assistant-centric redesign comes at the expense of the ethernet ports, so if you’re planning to wire-in hard drives, consoles, and more, in each room – you’d be better off with the Eero.
If you’ve already got a first-generation Google Wifi system (which did have ethernet ports on all of the extenders) and have moved into a new property, buying a few extra Google Nest Wifi nodes could be a perfect way to further boost your home broadband, while also adding some Google Assistant to new rooms. But if you’re looking to use ethernet to connect-up some of your gadgets to the internet, you might want to give the new Google Nest Wifi system a swerve in favour of its predecessor, or Amazon Eero.
But it’s not just the new marshmallow-like design, Google Assistant and an excised ethernet port that is new with the Google Nest Wifi. The US internet company has also made some improvements beneath the bonnet compared to last year, the newly christened Google Nest Wifi promises 25 percent better coverage and twice the speed of the first-generation mesh system.
According to Google, homes up to 3,800 square-feet and 200 connected devices should be fine with the three-pack, which is what we’ve been testing. Of course, if you’re renting a small studio flat but still want the clever features that Google enables with its Wi-Fi system, you might get along perfectly fine with a single hub plugged into your router. Likewise, if you’ve got more room – or more than 200 connected devices blinking away in your home – you’re welcome to keep adding extra nodes as and when you need them.
Of course, with any of these products there are some privacy concerns. Google already knows enough about us all, does it really need to handle all of our home internet traffic as well. There are plenty of settings during the set-up process to stop Google siphoning off any interesting tidbits from your browsing history. And it’s also important to remember that if you use Google Chrome (like most of the world does) or start your browsing with a Google search (like literally all of us do) then the US company won’t actually be learning anything new when you fit-out your home with a few Google Nest Wifi nodes. The only difference will be that you will be able to get rock solid Wi-Fi anywhere in the house.
The Wi-Fi extenders have a light underneath to show that it’s listening to you
Google Nest Wifi Review: OK, Google
As we mentioned, one of the biggest changes this time around is the addition of the Google Assistant to the Wi-Fi extenders that you place around your home to boost your broadband signal to every room. The speaker inside the node is comparable to the Google Nest Mini, so don’t expect to be able to DJ your next housewarming with the extenders… but it’s perfectly fine to listen to the radio, or quietly play a Spotify playlist in the background.
If you’ve got a few connected home gadgets – Wi-Fi enabled lightbulbs, Sonos speakers, security cameras – it’s incredibly handy to have the talkative AI assistant on-hand to turn things off, dim lights, and more. Of course, the Wi-Fi extenders can handle all the same questions and queries you’d ask the Google Assistant in your phone, too. So enquiries about your calendar appointments, general knowledge questions, updates on the latest headlines and weather, as well as ordering taxis, takeaways, and queuing-up the next episode of your new favourite box set on any Chromecast dongles plugged into your TV all work.
You’ll also be able to use Google Assistant to beam voice messages to other Assistant-powered devices in your home, including Google Nest Wifi nodes – so you can summon the kids to dinner, or ask whether a loved one wants a tea or coffee in the next round without shouting up the stairs. Unlike other Google-branded connected speakers, you’ll also be able to ask your Nest Wi-Fi extenders to run a quick speed test, pause your home broadband – for a single device, or group of devices. That could be handy if you’re a parent looking to cut-off children post-watershed remotely.
The new marshmallow-like design means you’re more likely to have the extenders on display
You can have as many Nest Wifi extenders are you need, but Google thinks 3 is enough for most
Everything is easily set-up – and then controlled – from the amazing Google Home app
Google Nest Wifi Review: How To Set-Up Google Nest Wi-Fi
Connecting a web of wireless network extenders that blanket your home in Wi-Fi might sound complicated, but Google makes the whole thing incredibly easy.
Setting up an entirely new Wi-Fi network, passwords, and a host of extenders that sit in different rooms around the house is handled by the Google Home app, which is available on iOS and Android. Unfortunately, there’s not a web app version yet, so you won’t be able to remotely check from a computer. If you’re not familiar with the Google Home app, it’s absolutely brilliant and miles better than Apple’s Home app and Amazon Alexa app. Everything is grouped by room, so you can see any smart lightbulbs, doorbells, vacuum cleaners, or speakers in each part of the house – and interact them from the same panel.
Tapping the Wi-Fi button at the top of the apps lets you check your latest download and upload speed reading, as well as all of the devices connected to your network. This lets you pause the internet on a single device, or prioritise the connection on one gadget above all the others. The latter is a lifesaver if you’re trying to stream a nail-biting thriller on the downstairs TV, while the children are sapping away all your precious bandwidth watching inane YouTube clips.
The Google Home app lets you track your download and upload speeds, as well as who is connected
You can also create a separate Guest Network with a different password when people visit, or if a neighbour needs to temporarily use your Wi-Fi while their broadband is broken. It’s a handy feature – and a cinch to set-up within the app.
Adding additional Google Nest Wifi points is a painless process, with the Google Home app only needing a quick scan of the QR code printed on the bottom of the device to sort all the complicated stuff in the background.
As you connect devices around your home to the network, these will appear in the Google Home app too. This lets you track the amount of data being downloaded by each – handy if you’re not paying for an unlimited broadband package and need to keep an eye on your usage. All of these metrics can be viewed live, or checked after the fact over the last seven days, or month.
Google has a dedicated Google Wifi app that offers a few advanced features that you won’t find in Google Home. These will be added over time, which should simplify things further as you won’t need to jump between apps for certain tasks – like renaming a new device that’s just joined your network, for example. For the time being, that’s the only knock on an otherwise incredible straightforward experience, despite the complexity of the some of the things you’re asking your router to do.
Google Nest Wifi Review: Verdict
If you’ve already got Google Wifi up-and-running in your home, then there really isn’t enough here to make it worth the cost.
However, if you’re struggling to stream Netflix from the upstairs bedroom, or getting stuttering connectivity on your FaceTime calls as you move between rooms, Google Nest Wifi should iron-out all of those issues within minutes of finishing the idiot-proof set-up process.
Google Nest Wifi will solve any patchy Wi-Fi in your home… and now comes with an impossibly useful AI assistant to solve any other issues you’ve got. If you’re looking to install some smart lightbulbs, internet-enabled doorbells, or other smart home devices but are worried about how your unreliable home broadband connection will hold-up, Google Nest Wifi should be your first purchase before upgrading anything else. Thoroughly recommended.