The original Google Wifi promised reliable and fast internet across your entire home using a series of identical mesh nodes positioned around your house. It’s the same approach that’s used for the company’s new and renamed Nest Wifi. But now, a central router is employed with satellite nodes that double as smart speakers.
Instead of using a single access point that looks like an alien spaceship covered in antennas to broadcast wireless internet throughout your entire home, mesh networks share the load across multiple access points which reduces wifi congestion and increases speed and reliability. It also eliminates the need for those unsightly external antennas, so mesh wifi hardware can be disguised as decorative objects hidden around your house. With its new Nest Wifi, Google has made the design of its nodes even subtler than the previous generation hardware, with generously rounded edges, and soft rings of light that indicate the hardware’s status. They almost look like something you’d find in a Yankee Candle store, but sadly won’t smell like pumpkin spice.
The Nest Wifi Router is easy to distinguish from the Nest Wifi Points—the latter features a perforated design around the base that serves as a speaker grill and includes a physical microphone mute button on the back. However, both pieces of hardware now use a barrel type design for their power cords, compared to the older Google Wifi hardware which relied on USB-C. So if something happens to the power adapter, you’ll need to get a replacement directly from Google, instead of digging one out of your cable drawer.
On the technical side, Nest Wifi supports the new Wifi 6 (802.11ax) standard, which allows for wireless data transfers fast enough to support streaming 8K video content. But that’s also dependent on your internet provider sending enough bandwidth your way. Wifi 6 is also promised to be more power-efficient, so those extra nodes scattered around your house won’t be as power-thirsty, but the improvement that most users will probably see immediately is improved handling of multiple devices. If you take a moment to actually stop and count, there’s a staggering number of devices in your home that can now connect to the internet, including smartwatches, alarm clocks, and even microwaves. Wifi 6 promises to reduce bottlenecks and slowdowns on even excessively crowded wireless networks.
Google Nest Wifi will be available for pre-order starting today in a two-pack that includes the Nest Wifi Router and a Nest Wifi Point for $269, and a three-pack that adds another point for $349, with availability officially starting on November 4.
Correction, 11:54 a.m. EST: Google Nest Wifi does not support the Wifi 6 standard, and instead maintains support for dual-band IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wifi as the previous version did.