I had been fantasizing about adopting a mesh Wifi for quite some time now. My then current router was good but was not giving me seamless coverage. This is an era of mesh wifi, and I decided that I will be moving to a mesh network for my home.
Then started the long challenge of finding the correct mesh wifi that fits my needs and budget. There are many mesh wifi routers out in the market, one better than the other. But I was unable to find the right one for me.
Then while digging deep into my research, I found that even with mesh wifi routers, it’s up to the connected devices to choose or switch to the nearest mesh router. And to make it seamlessly work, the devices must support the 802.11r protocol, r stands for Roaming. It means that none of my current devices would benefit from mesh wifi. A device starts looking for a new router when the current signal goes significantly low, say less than -70db. But with my current home, all the mesh points will be covering the entire home but with different strength. Ex. The hub at the entrance still gives coverage at the far end of the bedroom, but the strength is less but at the same time not less enough for the device to look for the mesh point in the bedroom. The only way was to disconnect and reconnect the wifi so that it connects to the nearest wifi point.
So, I needed a mesh wifi router where the router itself can manage the connected devices. Then I started exploring and studying Google Wifi. And Google was proudly advertising that its wifi system manages the devices and makes sure that the device switches to the nearest wifi point automatically.
Being skeptical, I researched online to check if this claim was indeed true. I came across lots of reviews and reports which were like a mixed bag of response. And finally, I decided what best way other than checking it out myself. And finally, I got google wifi with three nodes.
I had never thought that setting up a wifi system could be such a breeze. I had gone through the setup process videos long before purchasing the device. I have a PPPoE connection, and as per the tutorial I had to give the username and password of my internet account manually. But since I was moving away from a managed modem to a personal one, I had to contact my telecom provider and request them to unlink my modem with my old router. Once they did that, I just had to connect the first wifi point to the modem and it automatically took all the settings from the modem. The entire process took less than 2 minutes and I only had to scan the bar code at the bottom of the device. Once the first node is set up, the firmware got updated, which took about 5 minutes.
Setting up the mesh nodes is easier. Just click on the add nodes option in the app and scan the remaining nodes one by one, and it goes through the same cycle of setting up and firmware updates. All the configurations need to be done only within the Google Wifi app.
Even though the additional nodes are added as wireless mesh points, after the setup, we can convert them to wired ethernet points by connecting them using ethernet cables.
The Ultimate Test:
Now with the mesh working fine among all three nodes, it was time for the ultimate test. Time to test if Google Wifi actually works as advertised. With all the nodes fully operational, I get into the house. As soon as I am in the entrance, my mobile connects to the main Hub at 5 GHz. I move a little away, I am still connected to the main Hub, but now at 2.4 GHz. Then I move towards the room where the second node is placed. For some time, I am still connected to the Hub @ 2.4Ghz but automatically switched to the second node @ 5Ghz and when I moved to the third hub, the same logic followed.
Now again, I run through the same test. But this time while watching a YouTube video. To my surprise, the video ran without any lagging while I was moving around the house. So Google Wifi does work as advertised.
Finally, I ran the mesh test and was constantly getting top mesh speed of up to 360mbps.
Even though Google Wifi does not give all the settings and flexibility that other routers in the same category give, it still comes packed with some rather important features. We can also set up guest wifi, assign static DHCP IPs, and even set up port forwarding. We can also set priorities to certain devices and also group devices to set up family time by pausing the internet.
Google wifi is one of the most affordable mesh wifi available in the market. Even though it does not have MIMO or tri-band as other competitors, it still does a pretty good job for basic home usage. This is primarily good for people who are not so tech savvy and just want to experience good internet with much hassle.