Google on Tuesday unveiled Google Wifi, a new wifi router that takes after aspects of recent “mesh” networking routers like the Eero.
It will be available for pre-order in November, and will ship in December. One router will go for $129, while a three-pack will cost $299.
Details of the router were first reported by Android Police last month.
Like the eero and Google’s own OnHub before it, Google Wifi puts some emphasis on looks. It’s a small white cylinder, a bit more cleanly designed than your usual antenna-laden internet box. The idea is to make you more comfortable displaying it in an open area, which will in turn bolster your connection strength.
Also like the eero, Google Wifi’s headline feature is its ability to connect to other access points and create a sort of “mesh” network, expanding your connection to hard-to-reach areas of your home.
This’ll naturally work better in larger homes that are more prone to dead spots. Google says one Google Wifi point will work with homes up to 1,500 square feet in size, while a set of three will work with homes up to 4,500 square feet in size. (Though companies tend to overstate estimates like these — your connection quality will always be affected by the layout of your house — so take them with a dash of salt.)
To help maintain a robust connection, Google says the Wifi will also utilise a feature called “Network Assist,” which automatically transitions a connected device to the strongest Wi-Fi point and channel in your setup, depending on where you are at any given time.
The router is managed through a smartphone app. If the OnHub is any indication, it should make setting up the device fairly simple. Beyond that, it will allow you to see the various devices that are connected to your network, and selectively pause each one’s internet access. Google says the app will notify you if an access point would benefit from being in a different location, too, and that it will break down how your data use is allotted.
These are all features we’ve already seen in the routers Google Wifi is going after, but they have their utility nonetheless.
One thing to note here is that, clearly, this is not an OnHub device. Google pitched the Wifi as building on what the company has learned through that partner program — and says the Wifi work with OnHubs in some capacity — but didn’t announce any new OnHub hardware at its San Francisco event on Tuesday. It does promise to add new features to “all of its Wi-Fi devices” with future updates, but didn’t give any timeframe for when those might arrive.
In any case, the new device is a AC1200 router, which puts it closer to the entry-level side of the market in terms of maximum power. It supports 802.11ac connections, WPA2-PSK keys for security, and can work over 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously. If you ever want to go wired, Google says there are two Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back of each point.
These are all fairly normal features, and the fact that the Wifi uses AC1200 speeds could make it a bit trickier to keep your connection fast while extending it around the house. Still, we’ll reserve judgment until we’re able to test the device in the coming months.
If nothing else, it will be one of the more affordable options in the growing mesh router market. The Eero, for one, goes for $199 on its own, and $499 for a three-pack.
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