REVIEW: Google Nest Wifi - User Friendly & Reliable Mesh Network
For better or for worse, we’re all aware of how our WiFi performs in our home environment. We’re also very aware of those dreaded ‘black spots’ in our homes where WiFi just can’t penetrate. Now, hardware manufacturers are aware of this and are getting in on the ‘mesh networking’ gig. The Google Nest WiFi is Google’s second foray in this space, as it follows the original Google Wifi which launched in Ireland in 2018. The 2020 experience gains a few upgrades with more powerful hardware, and also features a more modern design.
Google offers a number of Nest Wifi options, including a two-piece (router and access point) and three-piece (router and two points). It also sells the router and Wifi points separately. As to which one you’ll want or need largely revolves around the size of your home. On that point, the router alone is reported to provide coverage up to 2,200 square feet which is more than adequate for most medium sized apartments (70 square metres), which we’re currently testing the device out in for our review.
- Nest Wifi router – 2,200 square feet
- Nest Wifi router w/ one point – 3,800 square feet
- Nest Wifi router w/ two points – 5,400 square feet
- Nest Wifi point – 1,600 square feet
Google sent us with the two-piece (router and point) system which covers up to 3,800 square feet. We placed the router in the living room area and the point in of the the far bedrooms which, given the layout of this particular apartment, always had difficulty getting decent WiFi from the Virgin Media Hub 3 we’re currently using.
For a company who didn’t produce hardware until a few years ago, Google already has a destintive, almost Scandinavian-like design language. The router and point fit right in and look right at home in any environment. They’re unobtrusive, simple, and easy on the eyes.
Gone is the puck-like shape as this generation features a taller, marshmallow-esque design. The router is 4.3-inches tall and houses a WAN port, gigabit LAN port, and power jack in its base.
The point is slightly shorter and contains a Bluetooth radio and Google Assistant-powered smart speaker. Basically, you get an extra Nest Mini with each point which is very handy for when you want to ask Google random questions in the same room as the point.
Inside the point are four far-field microphones and a 40mm speaker driver which offers 360-degree audio. There’s also a power jack, an LED ring that surrounds the base, and a privacy switch to disable Google Assistant. The light ring glows white when you ask questions of the speaker.
When using the point to play music, the audio quality is really impressive and, like other Home/Nest devices, you can tweak the EQ in the Home app to make it even punchier.
The Nest Wifi is not a modem, so you’ll be plugging into an existing modem. We hooked our router up to our Virgin Media Hub with the packaged LAN cable and then used the extra LAN port on the router itself to plug in the device which we removed from the modem, seeing as all our ports were full to begin with.
It also doesn’t replace your actual broadband service so you’ll still need to continue to pay whatever provider you use to get the broadband into your home in the first place. We know this might sound obvious to most of you but we have been reading that some people think Google are actual providing the broadband as well as part of the package.
If this is your first time setting up a Google Home device, you’ll need download the Google Home app and log in via your Google account or create one first. You’ll also want to download the Google Wifi app for more control over the network, including seeing which unit a device might be connected to or configure port forwarding but you can also set up your devices directly in the Google Home app.
Yes, we know, Google really needs to bring all the functionality of the Google Wifi app into the Google Home app but, for now, if you want to get access to every feature/setting available on the new devices, it’s best to have both apps installed.
The Google Home app also helps determine the best location or locations for your points, set up and test its speaker(s), and test speeds between the router and the point. It can also test the overall speed of your home connection.
Configuration and Usage
One of the big selling points for the new Nest Wifi and one we feel Google should definitely push more is the Family WiFi settings built into both the Google Home app (when you’ve connected your WiFi devices) and also in the dedicated Google WiFi app. These settings let you control which devices can connect to the WiFi, block access to adult websites and create schedules for when you want to WiFi to pause, maybe when it’s time for dinner or something.
Also, thanks to Google’s user-friendly app design and layout, these settings aren’t buried in the fine print and are right there when you set up your Google Nest Wifi for the first time.
There are also some nice and intuitive settings for setting up a guest WiFi for when you’ve friends over (remember that?!). You can set up a one-off network and even have your smart displays show a QR code that they can scan to allow them instantly access the network. You can also include connected devices, such as speakers or Chromecasts, on the guest network, so your friends can join in on the party and cast whatever they like to these devices.
To support their new game-streaming venture, Google has also included a ‘Gaming Preferred’ mode which, when switched on, prioritises Wifi strength to Stadia streams to ensure you’re connection is as solid as possible. Yes, other mesh networks do allow prioritisation of devices etc. for stronger WiFi connections but its handy that Google has made a dedicated mode, just for their own gaming service.
Speaking of priorisation, Google has also included this option for any of the devices connected to the network so, for example, we have an Xbox One connected to the point in the far bedroom which is used for online FPS gaming a lot sure it’s very handy to prioritise the console for these gaming sessions.
Having had Google Nest Wifi set up and running for a few weeks now, we’d find it very hard to go back to our previous set up.
With more and more connected devices coming into the home in the shape of new handheld devices and even connected lightbulbs for example, its important to have a WiFi network that’s capable of handling them all and one that’s easy to control and tweak. That’s what you get with Google Nest Wifi.
If the Google Assistant is your preferred virtual/digital assistant, the Nest Wifi is an absolute no-brainer. You should definitely be looking at this as a possible solution. Yes, there are cheaper versions out there from other reputable brands but what you’re paying for here is the ease of use, user friendly set up process and management and access to Google Assistant on the point devices. In fact, there are no other options on the market which add a Google Assistant-ready speaker.
The Google Nest Wifi is available from the Google Store, starting at €159 for just the router, going up to €259 for a router and a point. You can also buy additional points for €139.