I can’t think of a less fun, more annoying new gadget to buy and setup than a Wi-Fi router. Okay, maybe printers. But Wi-Fi routers are a close second, which is why I welcome anything that takes the guesswork out of setting it up. So I’m pretty glad I went with the Google Nest Wi-Fi.
The Google Nest Wi-Fi comes in two forms. The first is the Nest Wi-Fi Router, which connects to your modem and comes with one additional Ethernet port, so you can run your connection to a switch or other devices. The second is the Nest Wi-Fi Point. This can be used to extend your mesh Wi-Fi network, but it has a couple key differences. The point doesn’t have an Ethernet port, which means you can’t connect any devices to it physically. However, it has a built-in Google Assistant smart speaker.
The Nest Wi-Fi point is handy if you want smart speakers like Google’s Nest Mini in rooms of your home. While the points are more expensive, they also have the added function of extending the range of your Wi-Fi network. Obviously you don’t have to replace every one of the smart speakers in your home with a more expensive point, but placed strategically in a few rooms and you can cover your house in Wi-Fi with very few devices.
But what I like most about the system is how easy it is to set up. Out of the box, I was able to set up two of Google’s mesh Wi-Fi routers—meaning I had Ethernet ports at both ends, which I need for my own set up—and connect them together with minimal effort. Follow the steps in the Google Home app and I had a new Wi-Fi network set up in a matter of minutes.
Somewhat confusingly, Google uses two different apps to manage your Nest Wi-Fi routers. The Google Home app is used to manage your routers (as well as any other smart home gadgets you might have), but the Google Wi-Fi app gives you access to more robust network management tools.
Now, if you’re someone who’s used to setting up and thoroughly tweaking your network, this app won’t be for you. In fact, Google’s Wi-Fi routers in general won’t be for you so you can skip to the comments and tell us which ones you prefer. But for those who don’t want to mess around in the settings, this app gives you just enough access to important features.
For example, you can give certain devices priority for a short time. Say you’re streaming the Super Bowl on one device, it’s important that it not get slowed down because someone else is watching The Office reruns upstairs. Tap it in the app and you can give your TV a few hours of being the Most Important Device In the House. You can also just peek in and see which devices are hogging your bandwidth, if someone’s slowing the whole network down.
If that investigation happens to lead to finding out that your kids have been streaming late at night, you can create a list of devices that will be cut off from the internet at regular hours. And hey, maybe you’d like to cut yourself off at night, too. You don’t really need to be on your phone after 11 p.m., do you? Put it down and read a book or go to sleep. The fancy Wi-Fi router from the internet company can help.
You can even easily create a guest Wi-Fi network that you let friends and visitors onto without giving them access to your main network. This is helpful to protect your devices from people you might not fully trust—for example if you’re renting out space to AirBnb guests—but the feature is simple to setup. Like everything else a simple wizard walks you through each step, explaining everything along the way.
Google’s Wi-Fi hotspots aren’t for everyone, especially the die-hards who like to tweak everything. But personally, I can’t stand tweaking the details of my Wi-Fi network. I’d much rather just plug it in, occasionally boost whatever device is streaming, and share my internet without risking any of my devices. If the Nest Wi-Fi Router can do that without too much fuss, it’s all the router I need.