If you’re in the market for a new router, good news: Google just announced a replacement for its long-in-the-tooth Google Wifi. The new Nest Wifi Router and Wifi Point, which debuted at an event in New York City this morning, are a mesh-capable wireless router and beacon set meant to compete with Amazon’s Eero, Netgear’s Orbi, Asus’ Lyra, and others.
Nest Wifi features Google Assistant support and comes in three colorways — snow, sand, and mist. It will begin shipping November 4 in eight countries, starting at $269 for a two-pack and $349 for a three-pack. (Other countries will get it in Q4 2019, including the U.K., Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, France, and Singapore.) A standalone Nest Wifi router is $169, and a standalone Wifi Point is $99.
Nest Wifi Router
The Nest Wifi Router boasts hardware that’s backward-compatible with the original Google Wifi, including a Qualcomm 400 series chipset optimized to parse Google Assistant commands. One gigabit Ethernet port is present and accounted for, as are multiple antennas and support for 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels. That’s 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, but not 802.11ax (also known as Wi-Fi 6) — Google says it doesn’t think it’ll be worthwhile in people’s homes until 2022, when there’s a critical mass of client devices.
That’s all in addition to Thread (coming in 2020) and Bluetooth Low Energy capabilities that enable native integration with popular smart home devices. Overall, Google says the new router is up to 2 times faster and provides 25% better coverage than Google Wifi. In fact, the company says a two-pack can cover an entire 3,800-square-foot home, thanks to AC2200 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi with 4×4 (5GHz) and 2×2 (2.4GHz) antenna configurations.
Nest Wifi Router inherits its progenitor’s smarts — namely, algorithms that automatically switch among frequency bands and spectrum channels. Algorithmic selection considers which is the fastest at that time — based on congestion and connected devices’ locations. And like Google Wifi, Nest Wifi Router creates a single network name for both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands to simplify the onboarding experience.
Using Google Assistant commands — or from within the companion Google Home app for iOS and Android — you can pause the internet in certain rooms or for specific devices, give a single device priority over others, or restrict online access for children. (Try “Hey Google, pause the Wi-Fi for Daniel” or “Hey Google, what’s my internet speed?”) Additionally, you can manage guest Wi-Fi networks and internet-connected devices like Philips Hue lightbulbs.
The app — which can be used remotely beyond the network’s reach — also lets you check speeds from both your internet service provider and the Nest Wifi Router to your device, as well as the strength of signal between each node. It’s here that you’re able to name and rename the Nest Wifi Router and quickly see any access points to which devices are connected.
The microphone-touting Wifi Point (AC1200 MU-MIMO WiFi, with 2×2 for 2.4GHz and 5GHz) both extends the range of the Nest Wifi Router and doubles as a fully functional Google Assistant-powered smart speaker — one capable of checking calendars, setting reminders, controlling smart home devices, playing music and podcasts, looking up movie showtimes and restaurants, and so on. Interestingly, it’s compatible with any mesh Wi-Fi router that supports the 802.11s standard.
The casing’s bottom portion houses speakers, and there’s a microphone mute switch around back that prompts an LED to glow orange when it’s active. The LED is normally white when it’s listening for commands.
Features like Voice Match (which recognizes up to six unique voices in a household) are positively present and accounted for on the Wifi Point. So are Routines, which let you carry out multiple tasks with a single voice command; Broadcasts, which let you send a single audio message to all the other compatible speakers in on your network; and multilingual support for a range of languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.
Wifi Point units additionally act as cast receivers, enabling you to beam audio to them from a compatible phone, tablet, or PC app or extension. As with Google Home, playback and volume can be controlled from devices connected to the network, as can song playlists and queues.
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