The days of a big dumb Wi-Fi router sitting in the centre of your home are limited. Google Wi-Fi is one of a new breed of wireless router that distributes all those Wi-Fi smarts into different rooms and corners of your home. Instead of one chunky Wi-Fi router sitting near your modem and broadcasting a signal as far around your house as possible, Google’s new Wi-Fi pucks connect to one another and rebroadcast a mesh network of strong and stable wireless, giving you a seamless network over a wider space.
Google Wi-Fi (styled as ‘Google WiFi’, but we know better than the boffins over in Mountain View, right?) is a home network — although it’ll also work with a single unit — of Wi-Fi access points, each connecting to the other over a dedicated wireless channel to rebroadcast and reinforce the original Wi-Fi signal of the access point that’s connected to your modem and the broader internet. Google says one hotspot will cover small homes and apartments, while two will cover a larger space and three should be enough for even the largest Australian homes. It’s a set-and-forget solution, too — there’s a mobile app that helps you through setup, which Google says takes only a couple of minutes.
Using 802.11ac Wave 2 2×2 wireless, Google Wi-Fi broadcasts simultaneously across 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and is compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac clients, so everything from ancient laptops to the most modern smartphones will connect at the highest possible speed. Google’s mesh network stays consistent as you move throughout your house, too, handing off the signal to whichever access point is closest. Each Google Wi-Fi puck is capable of AC1200 speeds, so Ultra HD streaming from your Google Chromecast Ultra is more than possible — five of them, Google says.
As well as Wi-Fi, each access point also has two Ethernet ports: one LAN and one WAN on the main access point, and two LAN on each subsequent point. Google’s Network Assist software runs in the background and finds the least congested wireless channels and strongest network bands, optimising the mesh network of Google Wi-Fi access points in real time. Using Google’s companion app, you can also pause the wireless connection to any of the devices on your network — so you can cut off internet access during your kids’ study or bed time if you need to.
It’s a competitor to other wireless mesh networks like Netgear’s Orbi, and it may not be as fast in outright speed, but Google is counting on close integration with its other gadgets like its new Home smart speakers, also launching into Australia at the same time. Google Wi-Fi will set you back $199 for a single puck, but if you’ve got a larger house you’ll likely want the three-pack of interconnecting Google Wi-Fi access points for $499. You’ll be able to buy them from Google Store, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, and Officeworks on July 20. [Google]