Google Nest Wifi is a mesh network system. Essentially, it connects to your existing router to give you a strong Wi-Fi connection throughout your home. If you move rooms, the idea is that you seamlessly move to the next network node, without having to physically switch network.
But a mesh network system is only worth getting if you have a large home (one with several bedrooms). You may be better off just getting a more powerful router if that’s the case.
Mesh network gear is designed to be expandable, so you can use several of them in your home. It can also handle multiple devices, meaning you can stream in the living room and kitchen while someone games in the basement – and there should be no Wi-Fi congestion or a contest for bandwidth.
How does the Google Wifi mesh network work?
You basically put several of these ‘nodes’ around your home which act as one single network. The primary node connects directly to your modem – usually the router your ISP provided – but you switch off the router’s own wireless coverage.
You then power up the other nodes in optimum positions around your home and set it up using the dedicated Google Home app.
Once done, you will get Wi-Fi signal everywhere, from your bathroom to your basement. Think of Google Nest Wifi as an expandable system for better coverage. Instead of one router, multiple routers work together to deliver fast network throughout your home.
It essentially offers mesh network-like coverage so avoids black spots in your connectivity. And because of the way the mesh network works, it’s the routers that work out which one of them your device needs to be connected to in order to continue that seamless connectivity.
So if you’re moving upstairs, or to the back of the house, you shouldn’t experience a drop in coverage and you won’t need to manually select the secondary node in your phone’s Wi-Fi settings menu.
How many nodes do you need?
If you have a smaller home (up to 1,500 square feet), Google recommends that you start with a single Google Nest Wifi. But we say that if you’re only going to use one, you’re better off upgrading your router instead.
A mesh network comes into its own if you need much wider coverage. If you have multiple floors, it’s worth investing in at least two of them: one for the ground floor, and one for the first floor. Google is offering a three-pack set that covers up to 4,500 square feet.
What else can Google Wifi do?
Google Nest Wifi has a feature called Network Assist that allows it to actively manage and optimise your network behind the scenes so you don’t have to adjust settings. Like other mesh devices, it keeps the signal strength strong in every corner of your house by moving your device to the best node for less congestion and better speed.
Google Nest Wifi also has a feature called Scheduled Pause. It lets you pause the internet in your house, You can automatically disrupt the Wi-Fi for everyday events like bedtime or homework so that your kids can better focus, Google contends.
But we think you’ll just end up upsetting your loved ones. Still, Google noticed that people have trouble falling asleep at night because they check emails and surf the web. And many people, in and outside of Google, have told the company that they find screen time is a particularly common challenge for parents – “from getting kids to put down their favourite game to struggling to have dinner without eyes glued to devices.”
Now, using the Google Wifi app, parents can tell their system to shut down at a specific time in their daily schedule. When the time arrives, their router will pause the internet for specific devices, allowing them to still get online while their kids stomp and pout in the other room.