Google Nest Wifi review: the smarter mesh router
Six years ago, the router world was dominated by names like Netgear, TP-Link, Asus. But Google was not in the conversation because it did not a router for purchase. Fast-forward to 2019, and Google Nest wifi claims to the top-selling router. Thanks to the popularity of its Google Wi-Fi mesh system. It’s even more popular than Eero, which first gives the idea of a mesh router for better Wi-Fi coverage in a home.
With fast wireless speeds, easy-to-use app controls, simple setup, Google Wi-Fi was our top mesh router pick for the past years. Nest Wi-Fi has range-extending points double as Google Assistant smart speakers now. Nest Wi-Fi is more affordable and fast mesh networking and just an easy to set up and use.
At $269 for a two-device setup capable of Wi-Fi coverage up to 3750 square feet, the dual-band Nest Wi-Fi is the most well-rounded mesh router the first one I’d recommend and top on the market right now. It doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6 (and a Wi-Fi extender to boost the coverage of your Wi-Fi signal won’t have Ethernet ports), but Nest Wi-Fi adds in a couple of nice, current-gen upgrades, including support for new provide faster top speeds to devices that use multiple Wi-Fi antennas.
With lots of new mesh systems just announced at CES 2020 (including a few that support Wi-Fi 6 for less than Nest Wi-Fi costs), it’s shaping up to be a very interesting year for the mesh beat.
- Easy guest network setup
- Faster performance than Google Wi-Fi
- Integrates with Nest smart displays for guest network management
- Secondary Points double as smart speakers
- Stylish Design
- Easy to install
- Built-in Google Assistant voice technology
- Two apps are needed to access some of the advanced features
- Only two Ethernet jacks on the router and none on the Points
- Lacks dedicated backhaul band
- No USB ports
- No anti-malware tools
Table of Contents
- 1 Google Nest Wifi review: the smarter mesh router
- 2 Performance
- 3 Main Components Of Nest Wifi
- 4 Nest Wi-Fi More Features
- 5 Setup Process
- 6 Add Member In Google Home App
Main Components Of Nest Wifi
Like other mesh systems, the Nest Wi-Fi does not include not a modem. Nest Wi-Fi needs to be plugged into the modem you already have to work. Also, Wi-Fi doesn’t work in a bridge mode, which makes setting it up with FiOS more convoluted than other routers.
The Nest Wi-Fi is a follow-up product to the successful Google Wi-Fi mesh router system that the company released a few years back. The main value prop of the Nest Wi-Fi is that it’ll give you better Wi-Fi coverage in your home versus the setup that most people still seem to have which is just one router in one point of their home. Using its mesh network set up the nest Wi-Fi system can expand to meet the needs of your individual home.
Now we’ve had our system now for the past six months and in that time I’ve grown to really like the Nest Wi-Fi system, its core features, and it’s setup experience. Now there are some things that I don’t like about the Nest Wi-Fi system and I’ll get into those a little bit later on, but for now, let’s dive into the main components of the Nest Wi-Fi system.
Now in our review of the Google Wi-Fi router, we had several comments from people asking if they still needed to pay for internet service when buying one of these router systems. Yes, you will still need to pay an Internet service provider otherwise known as an ISP money for your internet service in order to use the Nest Wi-Fi system. Now here in the US Google does have an internet service in select locations called Google Fiber, so that could be why some people were originally confused with the Google Wi-Fi product on whether or not they needed an ISP.
Internet System Parts
Now I also think it’s important to point out that you do also need a working modem with your nest Wi-Fi. The nest Wi-Fi does not include a modem. Typically in any Internet system, there are three parts: the service coming into your home from the ISP, a modem that acts as a translator between your devices and your ISP’s network, and then finally a Wi-Fi router which enables your devices to connect to the internet wirelessly. You can either take the modem provided to you by your ISP or go out and buy your own modem that’s certified to run on your ISP’s network.
Why Nest Wi-Fi System is different from other typical Wi-Fi Router Setups
Now let’s talk about what makes the nest Wi-Fi system so different from your typical Wi-Fi router setup and that is that it is a mesh Wi-Fi router setup. A mesh network allows you to add more points to the network to expand your Wi-Fi coverage to make sure that you get a good Wi-Fi signal in your residence. One Nest Wi-Fi router will give you up to 2200 square feet of coverage,
a setup with a Nest Wi-Fi router and a point will give you up to 3,800 square feet,
and a router and two points will cover up to 5,400 square feet.
Difference Between Nest Wi-Fi point and Router
Now you may be wondering what the difference is between a Nest Wi-Fi point and the Nest Wi-Fi router. The router is designed to be plugged into the modem and is the central part of the Wi-Fi system. It also includes an extra Ethernet port so you can hardwire devices into it.
The points are basically smaller routers with less powerful antennas that you place throughout your home to help blanket your home with good Wi-Fi coverage. The points have another purpose, they can act as Google Assistant speakers. You use the top of the Wi-Fi point to control the Google Assistant it’s very similar to the controls found on the Nest Mini and the sound is great on the nest Wi-Fi point.
It sounds better than a Nest Mini, has more bass, and overall I think it’s pretty comparable to the Google Home speaker but with a clearer sound in my experience. Now instead of lights at the top like you have with the nest mini, there is a really cool ring light at the bottom that will glow different colors for different assistant tasks like phone calls, being on mute, etc.
If you don’t want to use the Wi-Fi point as a Google Assistant speaker, no problem, you can simply mute the microphone at the back of the device which will physically disconnect the microphone from power. You can turn off the light at the bottom of the Nest Wi-Fi point in its settings in the Google Home app.
You can also turn off the status light on the Nest Wi-Fi router in its settings through the Google Home app as well.
Nest Wifi Design
Google designed these routers so they look like something that you’d be fine putting out in your home and not something so alien-looking with a bunch of antennas that you’d rather just hide in a cabinet somewhere and there is a reason for this, you get better Wi-Fi coverage when you leave your router and points out in the open. Overall I found the design really nice. I’m a big fan of the matte finish that Google has been giving their products as of late like with the new Pixel Buds.
The matte finish allows the Nest Wi-Fi router and points to pick up some of the ambient light around it, making it blend in a bit better to its environment.
Alright, now let’s talk about some of the specs. Both the router and the point support 802.11s mesh Wi-Fi, as well as WPA3 encryption and they, will get automatic security updates as well.
Now, do note that this system is not a Wi-Fi 6 system, which is the latest Wi-Fi standard known for being able to handle many more devices on a network. Now given the slow ramp-up from consumer tech companies like Apple on supporting the Wi-Fi 6 standard, I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as some people make it out to be that the Nest Wi-Fi doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6. For most people out there I think Wi-Fi 6 at this point is just a nice to have but if you are the type of person that has to have that bleeding edge brand-new spec, you are going to be disappointed.
Nest Wi-Fi More Features
The Nest Wi-Fi system does other things to help improve your network performance like proactive band steering and channel optimization, which allows the router system to look at all of the channels in your environment and utilize the less busy ones, giving you better performance. The Nest Wi-Fi’s hardware is only half of the experience, the other half is the software that you use to interact with the Nest Wi-Fi system.
Google Home App
You can control the Nest Wi-Fi system by using the Google Home app available for both Android and iOS, which is the same app that you use if you have other Nest and Google Home devices in your home. Google also has a Google Wi-Fi app that you can still download and use with your system as well if you’re upgrading from a Google Wi-Fi system.
The setup process is relatively straightforward for the router system. It’ll tell you if you’ve placed your points in the right places around your home and overall it’s just a very easy setup experience. I really like how you can access the Nest Wi-Fi settings right from the main Google Home app when you open up that part of the app, you’ll see the status for your points router and internet connection.
Clicking on either of these icons will bring you to the network page where you can test the mesh network as well as click on the routers and points in your network to get to their settings page.
The settings page for each device allows you to do things like renaming your device and switch which room it is in your home as well as adjust the status light brightness. For Wi-Fi points, you have more options in the settings page for things specific to the Google Assistant like alarms and timers, night mode, lower volume when listening, default speakers, etc. Clicking show password on the main Wi-Fi settings page will show you your network password with handy buttons to share the password over email and text message.
Going back to the main Wi-Fi page you’ll see the area for your network connection. You’ll see your download speed and upload speed and you’ll never have to worry about manually testing your network again since the system does it every day for you automatically. Scrolling down further you’ll see a list of current devices on your network you can set a priority device right from the screen.
Prioritizing a device will cause the Nest Wi-Fi network to reserve more bandwidth for that specific device do you note you can only select one device to prioritize at a time. Further on down in the app you can set up family Wi-Fi which will allow you to schedule a pause to your Wi-Fi on your kids’ devices at bedtime or in the moment via the app or the Google Assistant. You can also block adult sites on any device from here as well.
Setup Guest Network
Below that, you’ll see the option to easily set up a guest network. When you click the gear up at the top it’ll take you to a page where you can rename your network and edit your Wi-Fi password and this is also where you’ll have the ability to reset your network and factory reset it.
Add Member In Google Home App
Now one last thing that I want to mention is if you’re buying this system for somebody else in your family so you can help them manage their Wi-Fi network and you want to be able to do that remotely, when you’re setting up the Nest Wi-Fi system for your family member or friend, make sure that you add yourself as a member to their home in the Google Home app when you’re setting this thing up. That way you’ll be able to remotely reset their Wi-Fi network as well as diagnose any issues that may be going on with their Nest Wi-Fi system.
Alright moving on, now let’s talk about some things I don’t like about the Nest Wi-Fi system. First is the power jack.
Google changed the shape of the power jack with the nest Wi-Fi system to a round shape which makes it more of a pain to try to plug it into a power surge protector that already has a lot of things plugged into it. Also, I preferred what Google did with their Google Wi-Fi product which was they had managers just for the Wi-Fi network versus having members of a home that have access to every single Google device you have in your home on the Google Home app.
Now that solution may not have been as simple as what Google did with the nest Wi-Fi, I still think it was better. I just don’t like the idea that in order to manage somebody else’s Wi-Fi set up remotely I need permissions that will give me full control over every device in their Google Home setup. I wish that they would provide better permission controls here. Over the past six months, I have not experienced any issues with my Nest Wi-Fi system it’s performed solidly, considering I have about 40-plus devices on it at any given time.
Alright now let’s move on to recommendations. Do I recommend the Nest Wi-Fi? Yes, it’s a solid upgrade over the Google Wi-Fi system, thanks to the new Wi-Fi point’s
Let’s check your product at the google store.