Google Nest Wifi: Smart Speaker and Mesh Network – The Ultimate Guide

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Google Nest Wifi point
Updated: 11th Nov 2019
Published: 29th Oct 2019
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By Rohan Tandon

Rohan is a passionate tech journalist with a degree in English literature. He's worked as a commissi Read More..

Google Nest Wifi, released on the 4th of November, comes in the footsteps of the highly acclaimed Google Wifi, a product that transformed the world of mesh Wifi routers.

Google Wifi was revolutionary because it allowed users to place devices strategically around a large area to ensure stable high-speed Wifi connection throughout. Furthermore, Google Wifi was also user-friendly, highly intuitive, and minimally designed.

Considering the legacy of Google Wifi, the latest Nest Wifi definitely has large shoes to fill. Can Google Nest Wifi live up to that legacy? Can it justify its higher price tag?

In this article, we discuss what Google Nest Wifi is, what mesh networking is, and everything else you need to know about Nest Wifi.

But first, let's start with a case study. 

Case study – How Have Other People Used Nest Wifi in Their Homes?

The Nest team at Google recently posted on their blog various ways they have set up their home networks using Nest Wifi.

Pushkar Sharma, Product Manager, Google

Pushkar lives in a fairly large house with a large backyard. He had two issues.

  1. He couldn’t get a signal in his backyard
  2. His daughter’s bedroom often drops to low speeds (we imagine this would be the end of the world for a teenager)

His one simple solution was to add a Nest Wifi point to his daughter’s bedroom at the back of the house. His daughter now gets super-fast connection for her Chromebook and Pushkar can make Google Duo video calls on his phone to his parents while he sits outside soaking up the sun.

Shea Ritchie, Product Marketing Manager, Google

Shea lives in an old San Francisco apartment with high ceilings and thick walls.

She has her cable box in her living room and, as she cut-the-cord last year, good Wifi is essential for streaming TV. Shea’s boyfriend works from home and has had issues with getting online due to a poor signal. He now has a Nest Wifi point in his home office.

Shea now has a Nest Wifi point in her bedroom, so she and her boyfriend can listen to a guided meditation at night and wake up to the news in the morning.

More ideas here on the Nest Blog

 

What is Mesh Networking?

Before we discuss Google Nest Wifi, it’s important to briefly discuss what wireless mesh networking is. We’re confident that most people reading this are already aware of mesh networking — if so, please feel free to skip this part. This explanation is for the uninitiated!

In a traditional wireless Wifi set-up, there is the main router to which all other devices are connected directly. As such, the router has to be placed in a central location so all other devices can communicate with it. This limits the coverage of the devices because the further away they are, the weaker the signal gets.

Wireless mesh networking makes it so that the distance doesn’t matter anymore. In a wireless mesh network, each device in the network (technically referred to as “nodes”) can communicate with each other. Basically, there are multiple routes for the transmission of information between devices.

As such, if you have several devices connected to the mesh network, you can strategically place them around your home. These “nodes” will communicate with each other and transmit the wireless signal to each other. This ensures consistent signal coverage throughout a large space and the devices don’t have to be in close proximity to the central router or hub.

Now that you have a working understanding of mesh networks, please continue reading for a detailed discussion of Google Nest Wifi.

 

What is Google Nest Wifi?

Google Nest Wifi is essentially a mesh router system. Its primary function is to connect to your existing modem and disperse the wireless internet signal throughout the other nodes in the wireless network to extend the reach of your signal.

Google Nest Wifi is comprised of two types of device:

  • Nest Wifi Router — the primary hub that’s connected to the modem.
  • Nest Wifi Point — the separate nodes that extend the wireless signal.

Nest Wifi point router coverage

Each Google Nest Wifi set comes with at least one Nest Wifi Router and one Nest Wifi Point. A two-piece set comes with a Nest Wifi Router and one Nest Wifi Point; a three-piece set comes with a Nest Wifi Router and two Nest Wifi Points, and so on. You can also add more Nest Wifi Points if necessary.

 

Introduction to Nest Wifi, by Google

 

How Much Does Google Nest Wifi Cost?

The following is a brief overview of Google Nest Wifi’s price structure. You can buy the individual Nest Wifi Router, individual Points, or sets.

  • Cost of Individual Nest Wifi Router: $169/£129
  • Cost of Two-Piece Set (Nest Wifi Router and one Nest Wifi Point): $269
  • Cost of Three-Piece Set (Nest Wifi Router and two Nest Wifi Points): $349
  • Additional Nest Wifi Points: $149 per piece

 

How Does Google Nest Wifi Work? What Does It Do? How Can It Benefit Me?

Google Nest Wifi Set-Up

The Nest Wifi Router plugs into your modem to receive the signal.

Depending on the number of Nest Wifi Points you have, you strategically place them around your home. These devices extend the wireless signal, so you have coverage across your entire property.

After placing all the devices in the correct locations, install the Google Home app. The app will guide you through the entire set-up process within a few minutes. You can manage your Wifi Router and all connected devices from the app.

The Google Home app comes with several interesting features. You can:

  • Share the Wifi password with individuals and guests.
  • Test your network speed.
  • Prioritise specific devices that should receive more speed.
  • Manage separate networks. As such, you can use your app to also receive notifications from other Nest Wifi setups.
  • Use Family Wifi features to set timers for Wifi connectivity to certain devices. This is useful if you want to limit your children’s access to Wifi during certain hours.

Google Nest Wifi Smart Speakers

Each of the Nest Points and the Nest Wifi Router also functions as a smart speaker with the voice-activated intelligence of Google Assistant. These devices are equipped with Google Assistant smart speakers, microphones, and touch controls.

As such, wherever you may be around your house, you can communicate with your nearest Nest Wifi Point. You can basically use them just as you would use any other smart speaker, like Google Nest Mini.

You can access the Nest Wifi Point by saying “OK Google” and then communicate your commands. You can also communicate Wifi-specific commands, like running a speed test or ceasing Wifi coverage for specific devices.

Since the Nest Wifi isn’t out yet, we have no way to vouch for the quality of the speakers. However, early reports suggest the sound is adequate and slightly better than most traditional mini speakers. The devices have some extra space inside to accommodate the antennas and heat dispersion — this means there’s additional space to move sound around as well.

Google Nest Wifi Advantages

So how does Google Nest Wifi benefit you?

Well, traditional Wifi routers have the following issues:

  • They look ugly and don’t serve any function besides transmitting the Wifi signal. As such, you want to hide them away somewhere no one can see them. You want to hide them in a corner or in your closet or some other discreet location. But that also limits their abilities to transmit the signal effectively. Wifi routers should ideally be placed in a central location at around waist height.
  • Traditional Wifi routers can’t cover large spaces. All devices have to be in close proximity to the Wifi router to receive a signal.

Google Nest Wifi effectively addresses and resolves both of these issues.

First, Google Nest Wifi is an attractive and minimally designed wireless router. It also serves an actual purpose — it’s a smart speaker with Google voice controls. This means you don’t have to hide it away but can keep it on display prominently.

Ben Brown, Google product lead for the Nest Wifi, said: “We realised that performance for the Wifi Point would double if it was off the floor, not hidden in a closet. Having a great design, having something you actually want to interact with, and having the Assistant on the device makes it actually so it's a much better Wifi system.”

Second, Google Nest Wifi — as already mentioned — is a mesh router system. As such, it connects to the other Points around your property and disperses the wireless signal for effective coverage around your house.

According to Google, a three-piece set-up of Google Nest Wifi can cover homes up to 5,400 square feet — that’s complete coverage for over 85% of all homes in the US.

 

Google Nest Wifi Design and Colours

Nest wifi colours and design

As mentioned previously, one of the guiding principles for Google Nest Wifi was to create something you’d want to put up, front and centre, so it works as a better Wifi router.

Google Nest Wifi completely lives up to that promise. The Nest Wifi devices can be likened to cute little marshmallows. Both the Router and the Points are matte-plastic domes only a little larger than Google Wifi.

The bottom of each device has several holes that serve as speakers. The Nest Wifi Router only comes in white, but the Points come in three colours — Snow (White), Sand (Light Pink), and Mist (Light Blue).

The Nest Wifi Router also comes with two Gigabit Ethernet ports and a power-in port. However, the Nest Wifi Points don’t come with any Ethernet ports.

One of the most attractive features of the Google Nest Wifi devices is the ring of light underneath the device. Whenever you communicate with the device, a ring of white light glows under the base of the device. The white light indicates that the device is active, listening to you, or connecting to Google’s cloud.

Google Nest Wifi is one of the most attractive Wifi mesh routers available on the market and makes it so you want to display them around your home. In doing so, they’re also more effective Wifi systems in general.

 

How Fast is Google Nest Wifi?

Google Nest Wifi is an AC2200 model. As such, it works with current-generation Wifi 5 connections with a total combined speed of 2,200 Mbps across all bands. This is around 1,200 Mbps higher than Google Wifi.

The actual speed of the network will be lower than the stated 2,200 Mbps because you can only connect to a single band at a time. However, as you move around the house, you’re automatically connected to the closest band, thus ensuring you receive a steady and fast signal.

Google Nest Wifi also includes four antennas which means it supports up to four wireless connections. This means you can use client devices that can take advantage of the multiple antennas to combine their speed and boost the Wifi experience even further.

Furthermore, Nest Wifi is also compatible with all first-generation Google Wifi setups. As such, if you already have a Google Wifi system, you can still add Nest Points to the existing set-up. If you get the Nest Wifi Router, you can also connect it to your existing Google Wifi Points. Basically, all previous-generation Google Wifi Router and Points and current-generation Nest Wifi Router and Points are compatible with each other.

 

Google Nest Wifi Pros and Cons — No Wifi 6

One of Google Nest Wifi’s biggest criticisms has been in regard to its use of Wifi 5 rather than the latest Wifi 6. Many critics have seen this as a missed opportunity. However, Google has defended its decision.

Chris Chan, the Nest Wifi Product Manager, said: You do see a lot of routers with Wifi 6 built-in, but it charges quite a bit of a premium in order to get that, and in fact, you need to have Wifi 6-compatible other devices in order for it to be a faster experience.”

This explanation makes complete sense for several reasons.

First, Wifi 6 certainly comes with greater speed capacities and anti-congestion features, but those functions are only available if they’re interacting with other Wifi 6 devices. However, in the current landscape, most wireless networks are populated with Wifi 5 or Wifi 4 devices. As such, even if Google Nest Wifi incorporated Wifi 6, it wouldn’t make much of a difference to you.

Sanjay Noronha, product lead for Nest Wifi, said: “It's really only 2022 by which point you're going to have a critical mass of [Wifi 6] devices in the home, at which point Wifi 6 will make sense in the home.”

Secondly, Wifi 6 routers are considerably more expensive than Wifi 5 routers. Netgear Orbi, for example, is a Wifi 6 router, but its two-piece setup will cost $700 whereas the two-piece set-up of the Wifi 5 Netgear Orbi only costs $149.

This example illustrates that a Wifi 6 Google Nest Router would have been hundreds of dollars more expensive. In using Wifi 5, Google’s intention has been to keep the Routers affordable and functional.

 

Nest Wifi vs the Old Google Wifi — What’s the Difference?

The following are a few key aspects in which the Nest Wifi differs from the old Google Wifi:

  • Nest Wifi is far more attractively designed and the Nest Wifi Points come in three colours whereas the Google Wifi Points only came in white.
  • Nest Wifi also functions as a smart speaker with voice-activated Google Assistant. This makes Nest Wifi far more functional than Google Wifi, which served only as a router.
  • The total combined speed of Nest Wifi is about 1,200 Mbps greater than Google Wifi.
  • Nest Wifi can be controlled using your voice whereas Google Wifi didn’t have voice activation features.

 

Google Nest Wifi Compatibility

The following is a brief overview of Google Nest Wifi’s compatibility with different wireless networks.

  • Does Nest Wifi work with Verizon Fios (Connecting to Your Existing Router)? Yes!
  • Does Nest Wifi work with Xfinity (Connecting to Your Existing Router)? Yes!
  • Does Nest Wifi work with AT&T (Connecting to Your Existing Router)? Yes!
  • Does Nest Wifi work with BT (Connecting to Your Existing Router)? No, because BT TV only works with BT Hub because of the inbuilt authentication required.
  • Does Nest Wifi work with Sky (Connecting to Your Existing Router)? Yes!
  • Does Nest Wifi work with Virgin Media (Connecting to Your Existing Router)? Yes!
  • Does Nest Wifi work with Spectrum (Connecting to Your Existing Router)? Yes!

 

Google Wifi Accessories

If you want to get a Google Nest Wifi, you may be wondering what other devices you can get to connect to the same network. Well, the following are some Google Wifi accessories you can consider including in your Google Wifi environment.

Google Nest Mini

Google Nest Mini is the latest portable smart speaker. Even though it’s an extremely small smart speaker, it has a deeper and more immersive sound than other speakers. It’s said to have a 40% stronger bass than the original Google Mini. It’s an attractive smart speaker covered in an environment-friendly fabric top made of recycled plastic. This smart speaker also comes with Google Assistant and you can access the voice activation features from across the room as well.

Google Home

Google Home is another of Google’s smart speakers connected to the Google Wifi network. As a smart speaker, it can play music, accept voice commands, and control all other smart home devices in your Google Wifi network.

Google Nest Hub

Google Nest Hub is a tablet that serves as a smart home hub. With this hub, you can control all other devices in your smart home network. It comes with Google Assistant voice controls, so you can control your smart home devices without having to touch them. You can also use the screen to access your smart cameras, watch YouTube videos, access GPS navigation, set up your schedule, and handle numerous other smart tablet features.

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast is Google’s streaming device. With the Chromecast device, you can stream videos to your TV from your Android or iPhone, you can use the TV as a monitor for your laptop, and you can send commands through voice activation or from your tablet. You can also control your TV through any of your other Google Wifi devices.

 

Google Nest Wifi Troubleshooting and Help

While we don’t yet have access to Google Nest Wifi — and thus can’t account for its problems and solutions — the following is a brief overview of troubleshooting advice for Google Wifi.

Google Wifi Flashing Orange

If your Google Wifi Router is flashing an orange pulse, it indicates that the Wifi Point has no internet connection. To fix this, you should make sure the Ethernet cable is connected properly to your Wifi Router and Point.

Google Wifi Flashing Red

If your Google Wifi Router is flashing a red pulse, it indicates there’s an issue with the Wifi Point. In this case, you can factory reset the point. If the problem persists, contact Google customer support.

Google Wifi Not Connecting

If your Wifi Point isn’t connecting to the internet, you can do the following:

  • Unplug the Wifi Router and the Point from power.
  • Wait for about two minutes to make sure they turn off properly.
  • Plug the power back into your modem and wait for a minute.
  • Connect the Wifi Point to the power again and wait for about 20 seconds.
  • While setting up the Wifi Point, find the Google Home app and open it again for the set-up process.

When your Google Wifi Point is connected, it will pulse a bright blue light. If your Router still doesn’t connect, you may need to contact your internet service provider (ISP).

 

Google Wifi Security Features: Can Google Nest Wifi be Hacked?

Unfortunately, it's safe to say that any internet-connected device could at some point in the future be hacked. That's just the world we live in. The following is a brief overview of Google Nest Wifi’s security features.

Firewall

Google Wifi comes with a stateful firewall separating your Wifi network from the internet so there aren’t any unexpected connections. It only allows data associated with known connections to pass through and also monitors all connections passing through. As such, Google Nest Wifi cannot be hacked by external connections.

WPA2 Security

Google Wifi also supports WPA2 (rather than WPA and WEP), which is the latest and safest Google Nest Wifi encryption protocol. This safety feature ensures that only people with a specific passphrase can access the wireless network. This is a lot more secure than WPA and WEP, both of which are now deemed insecure by the Wifi Alliance.

Transport Layer Security (TLS)

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a feature that ensures all communication between Google Wifi and Google is secure and kept private. This ensures there’s privacy between your device and the server so no one else can access your activity.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Google Nest Wifi

The following are brief answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Google Nest Wifi. We’ve already answered these questions in detail in the previous sections of the article, but this is a brief summary for you if you don’t have the time to go through it all.

Is Google Nest Wifi a Mesh Network?

Yes, Google Nest Wifi is a wireless mesh router. With it, you can connect all your Google Wifi devices and Google Nest Wifi Points in a single mesh network to extend the internet signal throughout a large area. Furthermore, when you’re moving through the house, Google automatically and seamlessly syncs your device to the nearest mesh network node so you have a speedy and stable connection throughout.

Do I Need a Router with Google Nest Wifi?

Yes, you do need a router for Google Nest Wifi. Both the two-piece set and the three-piece set come with the Nest Wifi Router so you don’t need to get it separately. Furthermore, if you only get the Nest Wifi Points, you can also connect them to the previous Google Wifi Router.

Does Google Nest Wifi Support VPNs?

Google Nest Wifi does not support VPNs. In fact, Google Wifi is one of the few mesh routers that’s blocked VPN accessibility in their network. As such, if you’re a frequent user of VPNs, you may want to go for another mesh network.

Does Nest Wifi have Ethernet Ports? Can it be Wired?

Google Nest Wifi can be wired and does have two Gigabit Ethernet ports, but only in the Nest Wifi Router. There are no Ethernet ports in the Nest Wifi Points. As such, if you want to access the internet through a cable connection, you’ll have to do so from the Router and not the Points.

Is Nest Wifi Good for Gaming?

Nest Wifi is one of the fastest mesh networks with a combined speed of 2,200 Mbps across all bands. Furthermore, if you use client devices like MacBook Pro, you can also take advantage of the four-antenna set-up to multiply the internet speed. You can even prioritise devices to divert all the bandwidth towards the gaming console. All of these features make Google Nest Wifi ideal for gaming.

 

Is Google Nest Wifi Worth It — Should you Buy It?

Google Nest Wifi is an incredibly impressive wireless mesh router. It’s an attractively designed series of Routers and Points that you can display openly without hesitation. They also function as smart speakers with voice activation, which makes them far more functional than most other mesh networks. If you don’t have a mesh network of your own and want to get a new one, Google Nest Wifi is completely worth it.

However, if you already have the Google Wifi network, then it doesn’t necessarily make sense to upgrade to a Google Nest Wifi. Luckily, however, the Nest Wifi system is perfectly compatible with Google Wifi, so you don’t have to replace your previous set-up but can instead add Nest Wifi Points to your existing set-up.

 

More on Google from SMARTHOME news

 

If we didn't answer your questions, here are some more sources from around the web:

 

Any more questions, feel free to comment below...

Comments

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MontanaTony
Nice article, thanks! Would be good if you listed UK GBP prices though!