Google Wifi First Impressions

Posted on July 6, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Mobile with 59 Comments

Google Wifi First Impressions

As you may have heard, I’m going to experiment with mesh wireless networking when we move to Pennsylvania. And the Google Wifi three-pack I’ll be using arrived today.

This one will be brief since I can’t actually install it until we are in Pennsylvania next week: We’re getting a cable modem installed next Thursday, so I should be able to get the Google Wifi system going then as well, and it will be ready for us when we move.

In any event, Google Wifi—yes, it’s written as Wifi and not the more correct Wi-Fi, hooray for product names—is a modular, mesh-based wireless networking solution. That is, you can buy a single access point for smaller homes or a three-pack for larger places. And they should just work seamlessly together in the latter case.

One thing to know up front is that Google Wifi doesn’t provide modem capabilities. So if you’re using a traditional cable modem-type solution as I will be, via RCN, then you will still need your provider’s cable modem or will need to buy a compatible unit yourself. Indeed, you may also need a switch of some kind, depending on your needs, as each Google Wifi access point only includes a single Ethernet port.

Another thing to know up front is that Wifi, as a Google product, isn’t set up, configured, or maintained like other Wi-Fi access points or networking hardware. That is, there’s no web interface at some arcane URL like 192.168.1.1 (or whatever) to know about. Instead, you need to use the Google Wifi mobile app, which is available on Android and iOS.

And to be clear, that app is available only on Android and iOS: You will need a smartphone—and a Google account—to get Google Wifi up and running. Some may find this off-putting, but I’m used to the way Google does things, and I actually kind of enjoy it. (Google has similar apps for Google Home/Chromecast and other hardware products.) Certainly, the software is clear and easy to use.

From a packaging standpoint, the Google Wifi is pure Google, which is to say a high-quality Apple knock-off. I won’t begrudge them that, other than to note that I’ve often complained of Microsoft’s Apple envy and Google may be even worse. In any event, the box contains the three access points, three USB-C-based power adapters, and a single flat Ethernet cable, which is used to connect on of the access points to your modem. The documentation consists of a “getting started” brochure. It seems like that’s all you’ll need.

Prices are reasonable: A single Google Wifi is $129, but you can get a three-pack, as I did, for $300.

And next week, I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

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