Yesterday, Google re-released their original Google Wifi mesh router, bringing it to a new, more affordable price point, just one year after releasing the Nest Wifi system. Here’s everything you need to know about this new Google Wifi and where to buy it.
What you need to know about Google Wifi
On its own, Google Wifi is simply a router, just like the device you probably already have in your home, which your phones, laptops, and other devices all use to wirelessly connect to the internet. Using Google Wifi as a standalone device, the main advantages are in integration with Google services such as the ability to manage your network from a phone, speaker, or smart display, and optimization for Stadia.
Instead, Google Wifi and Nest Wifi devices are best when you have multiple devices spread throughout your home, creating what’s called a “mesh” network that blankets your home in high-speed wireless internet. By comparison to more affordable solutions like a Wi-Fi extender, your devices are able to seamlessly roam between mesh network points, ensuring you always have the best possible connection strength wherever you are.
Importantly, Google Wifi is not an internet service provider. You’ll need to have home internet service from a company like AT&T, Verizon Fios, or Spectrum, and connect your first Google Wifi device directly to that internet provider’s modem.
While that may all sound a bit complicated, Google has managed to streamline the process so just about anyone with a smartphone can easily set up a Google Wifi or Nest Wifi system in their home. Everything is set up and can later be managed in the Google Home app for Android and iOS, with the app walking you through each step of the process.
In addition to the primary Wi-Fi network for your own devices, you can also set up a separate “guest” network that friends and family can use, which you may find helpful for keeping those visitors from connecting to things on your network like your printer. Better yet, you can display the guest network name and password on your Nest Hub or other Google Assistant smart display, making it easy to get friends online when hosting a party.
Google Wifi originally released back in 2016 and was succeeded by last year’s Nest Wifi. For 2020, Google has brought the same core hardware of Google Wifi back at a more affordable $99 price point. The main differences in this Google Wifi re-release are that the Google “G” on top is engraved rather than printed and that it’s powered by a traditional DC barrel jack rather than USB-C.
Google Wifi vs. Nest Wifi
You may have noticed that I’ve referred to both “Google Wifi” and “Nest Wifi” above. These are actually two distinct product lines, but they have a great deal more in common than you may think. For starters, Google Wifi and Nest Wifi have all of the same software features, meaning things like the integration with Google Assistant and other Google apps and services are identical.
The differences between Google Wifi and Nest Wifi are actually solely in the hardware. For starters, each Google Wifi can cover approximately 1,500 square feet of your home in “AC1200” signal, meaning it can — under perfect conditions — put out speeds of approximately 1200Mbps.
By contrast, Nest Wifi can be a two (or more) part system, consisting of a base “router” that connects to one or more “points.” The $169 Nest Wifi router, on its own, can cover 2,200 square feet in “AC2200” signal, meaning 2200Mbps speeds in perfect conditions. Meanwhile, each $149 Nest Wifi point covers up to an additional 1,600 square feet in a slightly slower AC1200 signal.
Beyond that, each Nest Wifi point also doubles as a great looking and sounding Google Assistant smart speaker, which should make it a bit easier to fit into any room. Of course, you may not need or even want another microphone-equipped speaker in your home, which would make the increased cost pointless versus the new Google Wifi.
Meanwhile, what differentiates the Google Wifi from the Nest Wifi point, besides the price, is that Google Wifi comes equipped with an ethernet port that can be used to hardwire devices into your network. This is particularly useful if you want to connect an older device that doesn’t have Wi-Fi, or you can simply give an important device a more stable connection than even mesh Wi-Fi can offer.
The most important thing to keep in mind when considering Nest Wifi and Google Wifi devices is that the two lines are fully compatible with one another.
If you have a Google Wifi set up as your router and decide later that you want to add a speaker-equipped Nest Wifi point to expand your network, that’s A-OK. Or if you have a Nest Wifi base router, you can expand with a mix and match of Nest Wifi points and Google Wifi devices, perhaps to bring an Ethernet connection to a particular room.
Where to buy the new Google Wifi
The re-released Google Wifi now only costs $99, with a three-pack running $199. By comparison, Google Wifi originally retailed for $129, with the same three-pack being priced at $299. With the newer Nest Wifi system running $169 for the base router, $149 for each expansion point, and $349 for a three-pack, Google Wifi is the most affordable way to cover your home with a strong Wi-Fi signal in a way that’s deeply integrated with the Google Assistant.
You can buy the new Google Wifi at a variety of retailers, including the Google Store, though so far only in the United States.
- Amazon — Single / Three pack
- Best Buy — Single / Three pack
- Home Depot — Single / Three pack
- Target — Single / Three pack
- Walmart — Single
- Google Store — Single / Three pack
This article has been updated to emphasize that Google Wifi is merely a router and does not provide an internet connection on its own.
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