Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review of Google Wifi Mesh Router System

The Good:

  • Can be easy to set up for most people
  • Great speeds with mesh network
  • Simplified menus
  • Awesome support

The Bad:

  • Doesn’t have some advanced features
  • Need a google account and smartphone
  • One shared port
  • Doesn't switch between wifi points well

It looks different than your typical router. I personally like the way the some of the other routers look, with antennas coming out all over the place. They often look mean and like an alien mothership with blinking lights. It shows that it’s a serious piece of hardware that can kick ass. This look is not for everyone. The styling reminds of something Apple would put out.

Google made it look to blend in with your furniture

Since it would be placed through different parts of your house, the styling’s main objective is to be unobtrusive. I think it accomplishes this task.

You can adjust the brightness of the light

Setup is pretty easy. You have use an app on your smartphone to set it up and must have a google account. There is no browser interface. The wireless covered my three story house better than Netgear R8300 which was the same exact price. (The Netgear died 18 days after purchase – common issue with that router).

Most people have a modem coming from their ISP. I had Verizon and they were able to configure on their end so that wouldn’t need a modem(this can be done with some haggling). It’ll take some time to release the DCHPs from their end (usually overnight) so some things may not work correctly right away.

I had this issue where one of my ports was not working and for some reason it would not let one chromebook sign on even though I had two of the same model and it let the other one on wifi. If you do have modem from your ISP, reboot your modem after you have installed your primary wifi point.
You connect the wire coming from your modem or ISP into the globe socket and then from there I connected the other Ethernet port into a switch. I then connected my other Ethernet cables into the switch.

If you have switches that are only rated for 10/100 you’ll only get a fair signal. You’ll need gigabit switches to get a great signal. Google Wifi doesn’t give you any real numbers to see. They rate their signal as weak, fair, good and great.
My house has Ethernet ports throughout the house so I used the other two wifi hubs as access points throughout the house but had each one connected via Ethernet. This is the equivalent of having three routers connected to my ISP at different stories in my house.
Google wifi is the evolution of their OnHub router. Google did right by integrating it into their previous system. If you own an OnHub you can use this as another Google wifi point.

I was disappointed that you can’t stop the SSID from broadcasting but it’s not a deal breaker. There is no Mac filtering, content filtering or url blocking. For most can live without these features especially if the trade off is for a great wifi signal all over your house. I just wish Google offered these items considering the price you are paying for the router.

Overall, Google makes things easier to do. Most of the features with the router are standard on most high end routers or if you use DD-WRT. Google does most of them, but easier.
You can identify what’s on your router and rename it something you’ll recognize unless you can memorize the MAC addresses of all your devices. Google Wifi makes is really easy to do this on one screen. You can do this on other routers but it’s more clumsy.

Renaming devices are really simple

You can pause internet on a group of devices or a single device at any time. Again, this can be done with your more advanced routers but Google makes it so easy. I do wish they added a feature to schedule times of when they are connected and when they don’t have access.

I have all the chromebooks in one set up. All I do is click one button and it pauses the wifi connection. I can also schedule the time that the wifi will come back on for these devices. This can also be done on an individual device basis as well. The schedule feature is only for 24 hours to turn back on or no time if you want the device not to be connected. You get real time data as well to see what is taking bandwidth on your wifi system. Again, you can usually do this with other routers, Google just make is easier to do.

Google just did an update a few weeks ago so that you can now set schedules for which devices have access to the wifi. A great feature. I wish they would add the feature of blocking certain websites on certain devices. Google wifi allows you to submit feedback and suggestions.

You can see what's on your network and real time data

Wifi Access Points 
I have one point in the basement, in an office on the first floor on a high bookshelf, and then one on my nightstand on the top floor. They are all wired connections. The coverage is excellent. I've using a wifi app to test the signal strength and speed. No matter where I am, I get a signal of 40-70dBm and a transfer speed of 200-600mps. You will get much less if your wifi points are wireless. My test was about half of the wired strength and speeds when completely on wireless (60-80dBm, 80-200mps). Your speeds will differ depending on placement and interfering signals. Google wifi does a good job in automatically scanning the other signals and then choosing a signal for the best strength.

I did notice that Google wifi has some issue switching between wifi points. It has to drop the point that it's on before it can access a stronger signal access point. It doesn't really do this well. I've been on the top floor and my phone was still connected to the basement even though I was literally a foot away from the bedroom wifi point. If you turn off the wifi on your phone and turn it on again, it will pick up the strongest signal. It does switch on it's own but it usually took me being near the closes wifi point for at least 15minutes. I didn't really notice an issue with performance on my phone but I have seen my phone drop wifi and then go back on to the strongest wifi point.

You can see the history of the bandwidth up to 60 days

Google will continually make updates to their product. This can be mostly good. Their updates usually makes their products better but the fact that you have no choice but to go with the updates is not ideal. Sometimes, I like the product as it currently is and do not want updates. You don't have a choice with google. Yes, I realize sometimes the updates are needed for security. I would still like a choice on if I want the interface updated. 

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