Google Nest Wifi review: Simple, speedy mesh internet and a great foundation for Google smart homes

When I first removed the lid from the Google Nest Wifi Box, the whole thing slipped out of my hands and the hardware inside fell out immediately. I could only watch in horror as Google’s marshmallow mesh router fell to the floor and rolled across the hardwood floor of my living room.

Fortunately, this system is foolproof – and not just for sudden, spontaneous drop tests. You plug it in, do what the app says, and 10 minutes later your new mesh network is up and running, broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal around your home that’s about as fast as you can reasonably expect. It’s as easy as setting up a smart speaker, as each Nest Wifi Point not only extends the range of the Nest Wifi router, but is also a smart speaker itself. You can get one each – the Google Nest Wifi Router and a Nest Wifi Point with built-in microphones and surprisingly ample bass – for $ 269 (£ 239, AU $ 399).

The Nest Wifi Router (left) and a Nest Wifi Point with extended range. The holes at the top of the point are for the far-field microphones that will be used to listen to your Google Assistant voice commands.

Chris Monroe / Tips Clear

Between the presence of the Google Assistant and the fact that you do everything through the Google Home app, the Nest Wifi prompts you to set foot in Google’s smart home garden, if you haven’t already. And it’s not cheap. For comparison: the three-part mesh system of the third generation from Amazon Eero costs $ 249 or $ 20 less than a Nest Wifi setup with just two devices. Meanwhile a three-part Netgear Orbi AC1200 mesh system costs $ 229 at Best Buy. That’s more than $ 100 less than the three-part version of Nest Wifi.

Even so, the Nest Wifi proved to be fast, reliable, and easy to use, and ousted Eero and Orbi in my speed tests (yes, even after I dropped it). The latest, fastest version of Wi-Fi is not supported, named Wi-Fi 6, but that’s only really important if you expect an internet connection faster than 500 megabits per second in the next few years (don’t hold your breath).

It all adds up to the mesh router that most people should consider first when they are considering buying one. Our Editors’ Choice Award winner, Google Nest Wifi, is a great upgrade for anyone who has already invested in Google’s Internet ecosystem for services and devices, especially those who would appreciate the opportunity to have the Google Assistant presence to enlarge in their home. But those who are not yet committed to Google at this point should look around, as better network values ​​with comparable coverage are already available today.

The Nest Wifi Router is only available in white, but the Nest Wifi Points are available in three colors.

James Martin / Tips Clear

Editor’s note, April 8, 2020: We have updated this review with test data from additional products. Google Nest Wifi remains one of Our top mesh router picks.

A new design

Google is currently working on centering all of its smart home offerings behind a unified Nest brand. Hence, Google Wifi was now Google Nest Wifi. Google marked the occasion with a brand new design, faster top speeds, and the addition of Google Assistant voice controls in every Nest Wifi Point. And as a welcome note to existing users, all of the new hardware is backward compatible with previous generation Google Wifi devices.

Continue reading: Nest Wifi vs. Google Wifi: The two mesh routers differ in all respects

Aside from Nest branding, you control everything from the Google Home app, which requires a Google account. The app is clean and pretty simple, and does a great job of walking you through a setup process that is straightforward from the start. You just plug everything in, tell the app to connect to the router, then use your phone’s camera to scan a QR code at the bottom of each dot. A few minutes later, your mesh network will be operational.

With the Google Home app, you can create groups of devices on your network and interrupt internet access at any time. Be afraid, unruly children.

Screenshots by Ry Crist / Tips Clear

The app doesn’t have as many features as something like that a dedicated gaming routerHowever, you still get some useful controls for your network. You can view and group the connected devices and then disconnect them at any time, even with a quick voice command. That’s basically a parental superpower, but not just for Google – most decent routers currently have some form of device blocking feature, and several can be synced with Alexa or the Google Assistant so you can turn the connection on and off for groups from devices with a quick voice command.

The Nest Wifi can also prioritize traffic to all devices on your network. This comes in handy when you are streaming 4K videos or playing online. Speaking of gaming, the system will automatically prioritize traffic for you Google Stadia, the search giant’s cloud gaming platform.

You only get one free Gigabit Ethernet port on the underside of the Nest router – and the Nest Wifi Point has no Ethernet jacks at all.

Chris Monroe / Tips Clear

The hardware itself, the Nest Wifi Router and the Nest Wifi Point each have a sleek, harmless design that blends in perfectly with your home without having to hide it out of sight where they don’t work as well. For this purpose, the dots are available in three colors, but the router is only available in white.

Another problem: The router only contains a single spare Ethernet socket, and there are no Ethernet sockets at all on the points. That means you only get a single wired connection for a game console or smart home bridge before having to buy a separate Ethernet hub. It also means you can’t run a cable to the Nest Wifi Point to daisy chain a wired connection for faster network performance.

You can tap the Nest Wifi Point at the top to pause, resume, or adjust the volume. As with the Nest Mini, the indicator lights show where these volume controls are located.

Chris Monroe / Tips Clear

Speaking of points, they are functionally identical to Google’s Nest Mini smart speakers. This includes access to the same voice-activated Google Assistant features, plus a microphone mute button on the back and touch controls on top. The sound quality is more or less on par with the Nest Mini and other small smart speakers like that Amazon Echo Dot – that is, it’s great for casual listening but likely to be overwhelming at a house party.

Like Google Wifi before it (and like most other mesh networks), the dual-band Nest Wifi does not separate the 2.4 GHz band from the faster 5 GHz band. Instead, it automatically “controls” you between the two on a single network as you move around your home. This worked especially well in my tests where I went from room to room doing one speed test at a time – me I never noticed any hiccups in the signal. Although I dropped the thing, I never thought it appropriate to return the favor and end my connection.

The mesh category is getting denser – and more affordable.

Chris Monroe / Tips Clear

Is Nest’s network the best?

At launch in 2019, Nest Wifi’s two biggest competitors were the Eero and Netgear Orbi, two high profile competitors that each launched new mesh systems around the same time as Google, are each cheaper than Nest. The Eero comes with a three-piece mesh setup for $ 249. With the latest Netgear Orbi system, a three-piece setup costs $ 229. For comparison, a three-part Nest Wifi setup costs $ 349.

Since then, a number of new mesh systems have emerged, including several new systems that support next-generation Wi-Fi 6 speeds. they include a faster, fancier Netgear Orbi system and a more budget-friendly Netgear Nighthawk setup, as well as a new Wi-Fi 6 Asus ZenWiFi mesh system.

About Tips Clear

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