Sunday, 19 November 2017
Reviews

Google Wifi has (almost) solved all my home broadband woes


Google Wifi creates a mesh network in your home to improve coverageGOOGLE

Google Wifi creates a mesh network in your home to improve coverage

Google Wifi is a smart router that hopes to remove some of the biggest headaches around home Wi-Fi. 

That’s an ambitious goal. But it’s one that Google manages to achieve.

Google Wifi brings a number of fairly advanced features to your home Wi-Fi – prioritising a specific device on your network, restricting access to certain users, creating a designated Wi-Fi network for guests – in an incredibly user friendly way, thanks to its brilliant companion app.

But it’s not just about adding features to your Wi-Fi network, Google Wifi is also brilliant at improving patchy connectivity around the home.

Google Wifi creates a mesh network – something that, until recently, was only really used in large commercial installations – to seamlessly extend your Wi-Fi.

The mesh network intelligently calculates which Google Wifi hub is best placed to drive a high-speed connection to your device as you move around the home.

Google Wifi brings a slew of advanced options to your home broadband GOOGLE

Google Wifi brings a slew of advanced options to your home broadband

Google Wifi lets you add both wireless and wired points to your mesh network, depending on which works best for you.

Granted, this might all sound unnecessarily complicated – but thankfully, Google Wifi doesn’t bother you with the minutiae and instead lets you simply enjoy whatever you were busy doing online.

And that’s the real beauty of Google Wifi. It doesn’t feel like a product designed for people who love nothing more than to spend an evening in tinkering with the settings on their router to work-out the optimal settings.

Instead, the simple Google Wifi app on iOS and Android allows users to access a number of advanced features.

Google Wifi constantly monitors your network, checking on the download and upload speeds, which is all presented in a beautiful user interface in the app.

Network speed checks are probably not something you’re doing on a daily basis – but when the process is automated, it quickly highlights whether you’re getting the download and upload speeds your Internet Service Provider, or ISP, has promised.

Elsewhere, Google Wifi lets you prioritise individual devices on the network. 

For example, if you’re trying to stream a film at peak times, you can prioritise your set-top box for the duration of the movie and ensure it gets the maximum possible bandwidth. That means you won’t be stuck watching spinning loading circles because your flatmate decides to play online multiplayer on the PS4.

Google Wifi is brimming with incredibly useful features like this – all accessed with a few taps in the brilliant smartphone app.

Google lets you check which devices are connected to the Wi-Fi network from anywhere in the world GOOGLE

Google lets you check which devices are connected to the Wi-Fi network from anywhere in the world

Within the iOS and Android app you can also check on how much data each your devices is using at any one time, as well as pause Wi-Fi on your childrens’ devices at any give time – namely, bedtime.

Google Wifi can also temporarily create a separate guest network – with a separate password – which can also be restricted to specific devices, like a Chromecast.

That means the next time you host a house party – the entire guest list won’t leave with permanent access to your home Wi-Fi network.

But Google Wifi is not a perfect product.

The performance of the hubs is dependent on software, which Google pushes-out to customers on fairly regular basis and is updated automatically across the Google Wifi hubs on your network.

The Google Wifi app automatically checks download-upload speeds of your network each dayGOOGLE

The Google Wifi app automatically checks download-upload speeds of your network each day

It’s a great system, and ensures your home Wi-Fi is always up-to-date with the latest security fixes – something that can rarely be said for the router that your Internet Service Provider supplied when you took out your contract.


There is something undeniably eerie about tying your personal Google Account to all of the web traffic that goes through your home Wi-Fi network


Unfortunately, these automatic updates can go awry.

Earlier this year, Google updated its Google Wifi with a software patch that caused a number of connectivity issues for users. This automatic update resulted in our Sky Q system dropping out on a regular basis as it struggled to stream content around the house on the Google Wifi system.

Thankfully, Google appears to have ironed out that particular problem, but nevertheless, it does show the potential issues around a smart Wi-Fi system.

Finally, there is something a little bit creepy about signing into your Wi-Fi router with a Google account.

Granted, Google probably knows just about everything you do online anyway – whether you’re using Google Chrome as your default browser, or starting a browsing session with a Google search.

But there is something undeniably eerie about tying your personal Google Account to all of the web traffic that goes through your home Wi-Fi network.

In theory, it should only lead to better targeted advertising – which is fine. After all, if you’re going to be plagued by adverts online, why not make sure they’re for a product you are actually likely to be interested in?

But while that all sounds very pragmatic, it might not be enough to shake the hair-rising feeling that Google might just be learning a little too much about you.

If you’re happy to make that tradeoff for an almost flawless mesh network packed with advanced features – Google Wifi is a solid choice.

  • Google Wifi is available online from the Google Play Store, Argos, Dixons, John Lewis and Maplins
  • Google Wifi costs £129 for a single unit, and £229 for a two-pack



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