Tired of rebooting your router every other day? How about switching to the extended network because you’re in the back of the house? This post will review Google Wifi and try to answer the question: Is Mesh WiFi better?

Summary

Google Wifi changes the game when it comes to simplicity and dependability. Gone are the days of having to switch networks because you went upstairs. The Mesh WiFi technology works great with only a few complaints of older devices not being able to handle the 2.4 / 5.0 Ghz switching.

The parental controls feel slightly lacking (no time-limits yet, some sites make it through Googles SafeSearch), but they’re constantly improving.

For the highly technical, advanced networking gurus out there – this device might be a little too simplified for your liking.

Overall I highly recommend this router to anyone who wants to step outside the box and try something different. I’ve been personally using this device for 4 months, and guess what? I haven’t had to reboot it. Now if I could just keep Comcast from going down, I’d be set!

What is Mesh WiFi?

If you’ve ever had a WiFi dead-spot in your home, it’s due to the fact that a traditional WiFi router only has so much range. You can extend this range with something called an extender, but that often leads to more networks that you have to manually switch between (Home and Home_EXT).

Mesh routers help eliminate dead-zones. Instead of broadcasting the signal from a single device, Mesh WiFi systems have multiple devices. The main access point often links to the modem, and other access points, often called satellites, rebroadcasts the router’s signal.

So instead of having to switch between the Home and Home_EXT network every time you go upstairs or downstairs, you have one network: Home. 

This is the future of routing, and answers YES to the question: Is Mesh WiFi better?

How I Picture Mesh Wifi
How I Picture Mesh Wifi

Who this device is for

If you’re a technology enthusiast, who is looking for SIMPLE and DEPENDABLE, this device is for you. 

If you own a large home, this device will change your life. I personally have a 1,400 sq. ft. home, but still own two Google Wifi access points to give me amazing coverage.

Who this device is NOT for

If you’re looking to setup advanced networks (multiple networks, custom routing, subnets), then this router may not be for you.

Overview of Google Wifi

I chose Google Wifi because a lot of the services I use are owned by Google (Android, Google Drive, Google Docs, etc…). It’s helped me become a much more productive person. Additionally – Google is known to adhere to the principles of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

Google Wifi definitely shines in this department. Setup is a breeze, all of the device management is done with a mobile app, and I can even run checks or disable things remotely (like turn off my teenager’s internet if he hasn’t done his homework).

Despite being released in 2016, this tech is still very relevant. Google Wifi is worth the investment if you’re looking to upgrade your home or get rid of that dead spot.

With it’s easy setup, performance, mesh features, network check, parental controls, guest network and device priority – this mesh system is hard to beat for it’s price.

Pros

  • Low Price
  • Easy Setup
  • Simple
  • Network checks built-in
  • Speed

Cons

  • No family time limits
  • Speed (it’s not as fast as some of it’s competitors)
  • Can’t modify network IP range (come on Google!)

Price

Not only is this device amazing functionally, it’s one of the lowest priced on the market. Originally, this device was $129 for a single unit ($299 for a three pack). But recently, it’s dropped to $99 for a single unit and $259 for a three pack. Let’s do a price comparison.

Google Wifi

Single: $99 from Amazon

Three Pack: $259 from Amazon

Netgear Orbi

Single: $250 from Amazon (extender)

Two Pack: $369 from Amazon

Ubiquita AmpliFI HD

Three Pack: $339 from Amazon

eero Pro WiFi System

Three Pack: $499 from Amazon

Setup

Setup is an absolute delight with Google Wifi. In my almost thirty years of tech work, this is the simplest router I’ve ever set up.

Old Router Setup

I’m a bit technical, so before Google Wifi, I would plug in my traditional router, log in to it from Chrome, customize the network IP range / subnet, set up the network name and passwords, and tinker with various other settings (Guest network, Channels, etc…). This had me fumbling through documentation to find default admin passwords, trying to find the right settings screens, etc.

Google Wifi Setup

Not with Google Wifi. Plug in power and internet, download the App and scan a QR code. It must have taken 1-3 minutes to setup the main device, and another 1-2 minutes to setup my son’s access point.

This let me focus on getting running quickly, and then tinker with the settings, which was really nice.

Performance Check

What kind of techie would I be without an immediate performance check?

Before Google Wifi I had a Netgear Nighthawk R7000P. Lets review some before and after.

 Netgear R7000P (before)Google Wifi (after)
Mine    (front of house)30-60ms19ms
Charlie (back of house)50-100ms22ms

Note this wasn’t some in depth test – it was a sanity check: make sure my stuff still works, make sure my son’s access point works, and make sure it’s fast! We both rejoiced.

Features

Mesh

Mesh Wifi is the future of wireless networking. Until recently, mesh networks were reserved for corporate or commercial use (in large buildings with lots of interference). But now it’s consumer ready, and it’s changing the game.

The key difference with mesh networking is that all access points can pass needed data around. If I have 5 access points in my house, they would act kind of like a relay race: Main point > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5. All without changing networks on my phone. This gives you 100% signal … EVERYWHERE.

With a traditional router, the signal would only go as far as the main router could go. So in the back of the house, you are typically left with only 20-30% signal. This leads to the infamous “loading” screen when doing network-y things.

Another awesome feature of Google Wifi is that it automatically handles 2.4Ghz / 5Ghz switching. What does this mean? If you have a phone that only has the older radio in it, it automatically connects to the proper band. No searching for Home and Home_5G networks. Everyone connects to Home.

Network check

This is one of my favorite features – the network checks that you can do from your Android or iOS app. Curious what it looks like?

Internet check

Mesh Check

Device Check

Guest network

Need to setup a guest network? You surely can – give it a name, give it a password and you’re good to go. Now you don’t have to share your main networks password with random people.

Google Wifi Guest Network
Google Wifi Guest Network

Another interesting feature is that you can turn on or off guest access to certain devices on your main network.

Family Controls

In today’s technology filled world, it’s more important than ever to have parental controls on your internet. Google Wifi has it’s own version, called “Family Wi-Fi”.

It allows you to create multiple labels, and attach multiple devices to each label. Once your labels are created, you create your schedules and attach them to the labels.

For instance: My 14 year old has different schedules for his Desktop and iPhone, as well as weekend vs. weekday bedtimes.

Additionally, Google Wifi allows you to use “Site Blocking” to protect the little ones from nefarious content on the internet.

My biggest complaint about Family Wi-Fi is there are no time limits. But I’ve heard it may be coming soon.

Device priority

Tired of the kids hogging all the bandwidth? Want to prioritize one device over others (maybe the living room Roku)? Go to the settings screen, then Priority Device and select which devices should get priority.

Google Wifi Priority Device
Google Wifi Priority Device

Personal Experience

It was strange letting go of old things (Netgear). I’d been using them for 15+ years. Since cable internet came out, and I had the need for a real network, I’ve had either a Netgear or Linksys in some form or fashion (switch, wired routers, and wireless routers).

But I grew tired of the clunky, slow, over-engineered routers. At times I had to reboot daily. For a short period, I just woke up and rebooted my Netgear Nighthawk immediately because I knew it was going to require it. That’s sad.

The only time Google Wifi goes down is when Comast goes down. That’s huge for me. Even when Comcast goes down – I still don’t have to reboot anything! It just comes back online.

Now that I’ve been using a Google Wifi mesh router for about 4-5 months, I’ll never go back to traditional WiFi. I absolutely LOVE this thing, and can’t wait for the next version.

Is Mesh WiFi Better?

Based on my personal experience so far, the answer is a resounding YES. It removes the limits of traditional WiFi routers, and makes everything “mesh” better.

No more extenders, or complicated network setups. No more extension network switching when you go from upstairs to downstairs. I haven’t heard my son yelling “Dad the network is down!” in four months (other than when Comcast goes out), and I love it.

Conclusion

I’ll likely never buy another Netgear or Linksys again. They’re over-priced, complicated, and require constant reboots and firmware updates. Google Wifi got it right: simplicity and dependability.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Easy Setup
Speed
Parental Controls
Simplicity
Price
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Technology enthusiast, programmer, blogger, father, son. Josh has been breaking and fixing technology for almost thirty years. His true passion is helping, teaching, and informing others, whether it be face-to-face, or by blogging.

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