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Review: Google Wifi – WiFi hotspots for better wireless internet at home

Review: The Google Wifi is a device that strengthen your WiFi connection for a place in the house where the WiFi network is less available
4.5/5 - (61 votes)

With Google Wifi it is possible to strengthen the WiFi network in the house by placing one in several places. Do you have a place in the house where the WiFi network is less available? Then this product can offer the solution.

Google Wifi – what is it?

The Google Wifi is a device for the home that you can use to strengthen your WiFi connection. The WiFi has the shape of a high puck and has a narrow LED edge. This edge can indicate several things. If the LED bulb is white, then there is nothing to worry about, for example. If it changes color, there is a problem somewhere. Incidentally, that LED strip can be adjusted in brightness, so that it will not bother you in the middle of the night, for example. A package comes with all necessary cables.

You do need to download an app for your smartphone. With this app it is possible to set all kinds of things. The app is a mandatory part of the experience. You can read more about how to use the app and how accessible it is later in this review. We can already reveal that Google has done everything it can to keep installing Google Wifi as simple as possible, so that a child can do the laundry. In fact, in a video from Google, the company simply shows that a child is installing the device.

How to set it up

Installing Google Wifi is quite simple, because Google also wants to keep it as simple as possible. When you unpack the box, you will immediately receive some instructions. There is a step-by-step plan on the packaging of the supplied cables. If you follow that, you have to get out. First you put the first WiFi, close to the modem. Then plug it into the modem and into the wall socket. You download the recently updated Google Wifi application, from Google Play or the App Store, and then you can immediately start setting up.

When you open the app, you first choose a Google account. It asks you to perform a number of actions. Then the application will search for the first Google Wifi device you have connected according to the previous instructions. Once you have done that, you can give a name to the WiFi point yourself, so that you know exactly where it is located. This is particularly useful when you want to set two or more. If you want to change something later, you can look it up much faster with a personal label.

You enter a network name and password and wait for your settings to be saved. Now you can indicate whether you want to set even more Wifi points. If you have bought a pack of three pieces, enter ‘2’ here. If you don’t have anything left to set, press ‘Nothing: all done!’ If you press 1, 2 or 3, a mesh network will be set up. The steps you have to go through are largely the same, but without setting up the network. Plug the second WiFi point into the wall socket and follow the instructions on your screen.

The only difference between setting up the first puck and the second is that you have to test the mesh network the second time around. The app will automatically report this. If all goes well, the app indicates that everything looks fine. You will then be instructed to set the third, and in our case, the last Wi-Fi point. This works in the same way as setting up Google Wifi 2: you provide the puck with power, put it in the chosen spot and go back to the app to go through the same steps. It only takes a few extra minutes.

Once you have done everything, it probably took you less than 20 minutes to do this – and then we count the quietly unpacking the things and downloading the app. You will now get an overview of all the information about the newly set up mesh network and a message that the latest updates are being downloaded. Give that process another ten minutes or so and you’re all set. Now you can link all wireless devices that you want to connect to a network to your new Google Wifi mesh network.

 The application

If you have already installed the Google Wifi products, you already have the application on your smartphone. You can do a number of things with the app. For example, you can set an extra Wifi point with it, if you want to do that at a later time (this can be done from the menu on the left). You can also use it to perform a network check and see how fast the internet is. The application will clearly show useful functions. So when you open it later, be sure to scroll down once.

 

If you want to set up a WiFi network for guests, that is also possible. Those guests will then have access to all kinds of devices within the network that you have set up and automatically disconnect when they leave. You can make the password you choose as difficult as you want, as it can be easily shared with the people who want to connect (you don’t need to save this password). Then you choose the devices that can be connected to, and you’re done.

In principle, the devices that have been added to the mesh network are always connected to the internet. Unless you set a specific device (for example your child’s) not to be allowed access at a specific time (for example when homework needs to be done). You can set up several of these types of profiles and add devices, so that there is also a moment of rest. For today’s children, this is likely a violation of their basic human rights, but for today’s parents, it may provide peace of mind.

Another handy feature is that you can prioritize a specific device within your internet network. You can do that for your television, for example, so that you can watch Netflix videos in 4K, without the resolution perhaps scaling down. Or on your Xbox One or PlayStation 4, if you intend to game online. Then the chosen device gets just a little bit more internet than other devices within the same network, almost guaranteeing the sometimes required stable connection.

The app has three tabs. Tab one is for some useful settings and suggestions that Google Wifi can do. On tab two you can see the status of the internet and on tab three you will find additional settings. For example, you can adjust the brightness of the LED strip on the WiFi (handy for the bedroom, so that it can remain dark). If you want to change or check something, you can do that by going to Network and General on tab three. There you can review everything at your leisure.

Google Wifi – in use

The first thing we immediately tested is the internet speed. It came to the same as before when it was connected (in our old situation, without the Google Wifi). If a loss is nevertheless detected, you can place the first unit closer to the modem or use cables. With some WiFi extenders, the speed is halved, but that is not the case here. Devices that you connect with your Google profile on board also automatically enter the password.

Once the devices have been installed, you still have to convert all devices from the network. Do not forget this, as this will not happen automatically. If you don’t do this, you will of course not benefit from the advantages of the hardware. It may be a chore for some people, but it really does help in the longer term. If everything is set correctly, you don’t have to do much else. The devices then automatically communicate with the correct Google Wifi pucks in your home.

By placing the hardware in smart places in the house, you can ensure that all internet devices are provided with a stable connection. Devices here in the house that previously had to do with three or four dashes now have access to the full five and work great. There don’t seem to be any disadvantages to using Google Wifi, except that you again (in our case) have three devices in the house that need power and therefore take up a power socket. Fortunately, the WiFi consumes little energy.

Some power users Google WiFi can otherwise be too simple. There are few options regarding deeper settings. There is no support for DDNS (Dynamic DNS), so there can also be problems when using a vpn or remote desktop. In addition, the devices have few extra connections, so you may have to buy extra hardware, such as a switch, to make up for that lack. Clearly, Google Wifi is meant for ‘the average consumer’.

Google Wifi – your data and security

Google Wifi does not have a web interface and therefore requires the user to download an app. That app is of course also from Google, which you log in with your Google account. For example, Google can keep anonymous data about all statistics, such as usage or the status of the Wifi point, for the benefit of the known crash reports. You can turn off all that data collection if you prefer that idea. But even then the Wifi points and the app will of course always be in contact with Google’s servers.

Although Google does not collect personal data – which sites you visit, which games you play, who you have contact with, etc. – it is still a difficult idea for many people that Google wants to place more devices in your home, after the smartphone and the smart TV. There are also competing mesh network devices out there that don’t have a constant connection to a server, so in theory Google Wifi doesn’t have to be constantly connected to the search engine giant’s servers.

On the other hand, the Google Wifi can be provided with updates at regular times and in general may be safer against attacks from outside. For example, there was recently news about a weakness in the WPA2 security of the Wi-Fi connection (a standard that the device uses). These problems can be quickly resolved with automatic updates. You don’t have to install those updates yourself, which is a scary idea for some people. What does Google install?

You would do well to write down for yourself what is important to you. Suppose you are looking for mesh network devices in your home, what exactly are you looking for? Devices that are or are not connected to servers? Devices that do or do not implement automatic updates? And how much can it cost? For the time being, it seems that Google knows how to offer a combination that is competitively priced and has many advantages, but those advantages do have clear caveats that you should take into account.

Google Wifi – conclusion

It’s easy to recommend the Google Wifi right away if you’re looking for an easy-to-use mesh network for your home. If the internet speed in your home is below 250 Mbps, you will not notice any signal loss. If you have more than that, you will definitely notice it. Do you have a large house or do you want to get to know these types of WiFi networks in an accessible way, then you can get Google Wifi for a relatively low price and get used to this kind of thing.

The hardware is primarily intended for the less demanding user, who is at home on the Internet and occasionally games online or uses video streaming services. There are no deep customization options, which can create obstacles for people who have many wired devices or use a VPN. Also, the idea that there is a constant connection with the Google server is not nice for everyone. If you fall into the first category of people, we can recommend Google Wifi.

Pros

  • Accessible product
  • Entry price
  • Makes mesh network setup simple 

     

Negatives

  • No deep customization options
  • Constant connection to Google servers
  • Not suitable for fast internet connections

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