I’ll start off by saying this; I’m a massive techie, I love technology and know a decent amount about it, not to mention the fact that I keep pushing the bounds of my knowledge and develop it every single day… But all of the ‘tech guys’ in the world will agree on one thing: WiFi needs to just work, no questions asked. Google WiFi achieves this with a clean & tidy (expandable) system.
Enter Google WiFi:
(Photo credit: Best Buy)
What is Google WiFi? It’s many thing; an expandable mesh WiFi network, a wireless AC 2×2 MU-MIMO AP (Access Point), a clean ‘puck’ which fits seamlessly into any environment and above all else it’s a perfect solution to a problem which should’ve never existed – Wireless connectivity! Never again will a consumer need to reset their router or faff with a reset button, Google WiFi just works and I can say that without so much as a moment of hesitation.
A bit of backstory into my networking life seems to be in order. Like I’ve said, I’m hugely into technology, it’s here and it’s our future so why wouldn’t I want to keep up to date with it? 😉 Not too long ago my home network was incredibly basic, a Virgin Media router/modem unit with Dual-band 802.11n – it ‘worked’ but speeds were abysmal, WiFi strength was minimal and dropouts were frequent! This resulted in a lot of hard-wired connections, Ethernet cables running under the floorboards, through ceilings and walls… It was a mess! Before that it was Powerline to the rescue, an impressive, but flawed technology. Speeds, stability and latency were all issues with the Powerline setup I had configured, it was like patching a sinking ship with cardboard, it slowed the sinking down but the water was still pouring in.
Being the tech of the house I was off to the rescue (for myself at least)! With Powerline in tow, I dropped a super basic TP-Link AC Router into the mix, now I had a ~50mbps Powerline with a WiFi Router and a couple of Ethernet cables for laptops and PCs. The same speed and latency issues were still present but now I had WiFi in the far corner of the house and it was uncontested as I was running it at 5GHz in a time where nobody else was touching those frequencies. But something needed to change, WiFi dead-spots existed all throughout the house. I had an incredibly awful Netgear router with the most useless antenna and poorest range I’ve ever had the displeasure of setting up! But for excluding those pesky dead-spots it fit the bill (after flashing DD-WRT of course).
More time went by and it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a long term solution, I ended up running another Ethernet cable under the floor and into the back of the house, the VM Router was flicked into “Modem Mode” and an Asus RT-AC68U was installed! Wonderful, the kitchen had WiFi and the Chromecasts stopped coughing and spluttering every other scene. And yet, something was still lacking! The furthest corners of the household were still begging for usable WiFi and we’re getting it, some firmware tweaks and antenna movements later and nothing had changed in a significant way.
But in April 2017 Google WiFi finally reached our shores! And I had an order placed as soon as I could press checkout. Now, a year later, what do I have to say about Google WiFi?
I purchased them as a dual-pack. One for the front and back of the house, but it doesn’t just cover front & back… No! It covers front, back, top, bottom, left and right! I can be across the street and still be streaming 4k videos on YouTube, it’s fabulous! The speed is always present and ready, the signal strength is through the roof (quite literally), I can drop Cast enabled speakers half way down the garden and still have them kicking out bass, mids and highs! The app gives me full remote management of my network (securely) and allows for the disabling of any logs getting packed up and shipped to our ‘Google overlords’.
The app itself is good but far from perfect. It gets every bit of the job done but it’s sluggish to load my device list. There’s no bulk actions and it lacks any web interface, not to mention 90% of the settings a traditional router displays just not existing. Even the most basic thing in the world – splitting the SSID of 2.4 & 5GHz! It’s not possible 😦
But back to the good stuff, wired mesh is spot on, a full 1gbps link between the units, it’s expandable up to 5 ‘pucks’ if you have a MASSIVE home / plot of land. And they look damn good, wouldn’t you agree? They hold up incredibly well even with dozens of devices connected, I can max out my internet connection indefinitely – I think the VM hub would give up the ghost before these things broke a sweat.
I can say nothing but good things about the hardware, the software is ever changing and improving (for real!). So here’s to the next year of using Google WiFi, the best consumer WiFi solution ever created (to date)!