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Mar 3, 2017

Google Wifi Review (2018 Update)

Google Wifi
Google Wifi is Google's (amazing) attempt at a home wireless networking system. It works as a mesh system where multiple Wifi points are connected together to provide wireless throughout an entire home without the need for a dedicated wifi extender.

It's simple to set up, looks beautiful on any desk or shelf, and has a fantastic mobile app that makes it a piece of cake to control every aspect of the router.

You'd think that a simple, easy-to-install device would lack the advanced features you can customize in popular routers, but that just isn't the case, as you'll see below.

Note: You can buy one Google Wifi system if that's all you need, but if you decide you want to add more to your network later, you can do this by just buying more of them. The Google Wifi app lets you add additional points at any time.

Buy One Google Wifi Router on Amazon
Buy Three Google Wifi Points on Amazon

Google Wifi Is Really Easy to Set Up

While it's true that I've only ever used less than five routers, this one is by far the easiest to install. Most make you access the router's admin pages through an IP address and default username and password, which you have to search for since they're all different, but not Google Wifi.

All you need is your smartphone to set up the Wifi points. After you tell it to add a new section to the mesh network, you have to take a picture of the QR code on the bottom of the Wifi point (or enter the text code yourself), and Google Wifi will do the rest to get it configured.

If you're installing more than one Wifi point, it's just as easy as the first, which is especially really easy if you've ever had to deal with wifi extenders (they're usually not fun to set up).

The app walks you through all the steps, so I was able to get all three of my Wifi points setup in less than 10 minutes.

Note: I cannot stress enough how easy it is to set up Google Wifi. A traditional mesh network requires one device to be paired to the next so that they can communicate under the same network, and it's not easy or straightforward. Google Wifi makes the whole thing so incredibly simple to understand.

What Google Wifi Can Do

Important: You can't set up or use Google Wifi unless you have an Android or iOS device because the Google Wifi app can only run on those platforms.

The app connects to your Google account and, as I said above, lets you add Wifi points through a simple wizard that shows you exactly what to do.

In addition, it lets you do all of the following:
  • View network usage, like the amount of data uploaded and downloaded, and the speed of the network
  • See the health of all the Wifi points (weak, fair, or good signal strength)
  • View the change log of the software updates (Google Wifi updates its software automatically)
  • Restart the network or specific Wifi points
  • Factory reset the Wifi points
  • Disable or change the brightness of any Wifi point (they emit a faint blue light all the time)
  • See the IP address for each Wifi point
  • Name the Wifi points something custom to keep track of where they are
  • Test the stability of the whole mesh network
  • Prioritize any device so that it can use more bandwidth than other devices
  • Show the password of your network
  • Build a guest network
  • See who all is connected to your network
  • Pause any networked device from accessing the internet
  • Adjust advanced networking settings like DNS, WAN, DHCP IP reservations, port forwarding, and UPnP
  • Let other people manage your network for you (you have to enter in their email address)
  • Enable email notifications so you can get features, tips, product announcements, promotions, and analytics about your network
  • Control your other connected home devices
  • Guests can access a specific page on your network to see the connected devices that they, too, can access

Another great thing about the Google Wifi app is that you can control your network from anywhere that has a network connection. This means that even while you're away, you can disable your internet or check who's using your wifi (and even kick them off).

It's important to realize that a traditional router has this capability, too, but it's not at all as smooth to use. Most make you configure ports and set up hosting on your home network to access your router when you're away.

I love that since it's a mesh network, you can add more than just a second Wifi point. If your home is large enough that it needs five points, for instance, you can buy four more Wifi points and set them all up to work together. Again, the app makes this very easy to do. I was not disappointed when I configured the three I purchased.

What You Get in the Box

The box is pretty sturdy and looks really nice, which is a common theme when purchasing most electronics from Google.

Here's what you get:
  • An Ethernet cable so you can connect the wifi system to your modem
  • A power cable that connects to the wall from the back of the Wifi point

If you buy three Wifi points at once, you'll get just one power cable and Ethernet cable for the "main" device (which is whichever one you choose to be the main one) and a power cable for each of the other Wifi points.

How Many Wifi Points You Need

If your home is large (has several rooms) and you want wireless access all over, you may consider doing the 3-point system. Google recommends you put a Wifi point at a span of two rooms apart.

However, if you'd rather be cautious, you can buy just one or two Wifi points and then broaden your network with more if you later decide that you want wider coverage.

Buy One Google Wifi Router on Amazon
Buy Three Google Wifi Points on Amazon