Nest Wifi Review
One of the issues I’ve had in my home since I moved in during the fall of 2016 was the inability to have a solid internet connection all around my home. I live in a fully detached side split home, with 4 distinct levels. My providers cable enters the right side of my house into a bedroom – odd place, I know – which means getting a solid connection on the left side of my home is pretty difficult. What makes it worse is that this is the area we spend quite a bit of our time, watching TV, cooking, and entertaining guests. We’ve used mesh wifi systems to attempt to rectify this issue, but even some of the most expensive have their limitations. Then we got the Nest Wifi from Google.
The Nest WIFI was provided to us by Google Canada for this review.
Our current mesh wifi system came with a router and one additional node that we could place somewhere in our home. We are currently with TekSavvy Solutions, which uses Cogeco cable lines to deliver internet to our home. On an average day, we get about 30-35 mb/s over Wifi when using it in the room where the router resides, which is OK. We are currently paying for 40 mb/s.
The issue with this mesh system – and a few others we have tried – is that it ‘strongly recommends’ a direct line-of-sight between the router and the nodes. Anyone who owns a house from the 70s knows that segmented rooms was all the rage, so getting a direct line of site was virtually impossible. And our wifi definitely suffered. Our upstairs rooms where we cooked, ate, and entertained had spotty wifi connections at best, often times cutting out completely, or only offering 10-15 mb/s. Of course our first thought was to blame our provider, because…well, why not. But after connecting our laptop directly into the modem, we quickly found out that wasn’t the problem. So, for well over a year, we swapped out various (expensive) mesh systems, and none of them seemed to work. Financially, getting the ultra-expensive units wasn’t an option, so we moved all our entertainment to the downstairs room (and did a renovation), and decided to live with the fact that we would have crappy wifi upstairs.
Enter the Nest Wifi from Google. It was a game-changer from the moment we set it up. While Google does strongly suggest you keep your Nest Wifi out in an open space, it makes no mention of prioritizing direct lines-of-sight between your router and nodes. Google’s only suggestion when setting up your system is to not place your nodes in closets or cupboards. The nodes with our old system were incredibly ugly – the Google nodes are brilliantly beautiful, albeit subdued. And that was the goal from the start, to create a node and router that could sit out in the open, yet blend into home decor without standing out like a sore thumb. Even better, the nodes serve as a Google Home product should you want them too (although a simple mute button can turn that feature off completely if a room has another Google Home device you enjoy more).
Even for those who own the older Google Wifi system, this new Nest Wifi version will cover more of your home, with less nodes. The pack we reviewed – one router and one node – can cover up to 3,800 square feet; the router on it’s own can do 2,200. With my house falling just north of 2,200, having the node upstairs made a world of difference.
While we still are not getting as good a signal upstairs as we do downstairs, the 10-15 mb/s we got on average with our last system now is a 30-3 mb/s. Downstiars we saw a slight improvement over the last system, averaging around 38mb/s as opposed to the 35 mb/s we were getting before. While not a huge difference in the wifi connection downstairs, there was a vast improvement upstairs. What makes it better is that we no longer attempted to adhere to the line-of-sight rule of our old system, but instead, put the Nest Wifi node upstairs exactly where we wanted it. Still out in the open, but not in an utterly dumb position as before.
Where I found the Nest Wifi really shone, however, was how it integrated with the rest of the products in my home, both Google and non-Google. The best feature is grouping devices. Those that required constant connections (like my thermostat, smart switches, smart lights, etc.) could maintain a solid connection with my Nest Wifi, while my kids devices (Amazon tablets, Nintendo Switch consoles) could be in a separate group, allowing me to control the connection to allow or disallow ‘screen time’ at various points during the day. It took some time to set this all up, but it now all works seamlessly with my entire Google home system.
The Nest Wifi from Google is a fabulous router and node system that will serve you well should you choose to use it. It integrates well with Google Home – should your home be setup that way – but is also useful in other situations. That being said, having all that Google integration via the Google Home application is an extra feature that requires the purchasing of numerous other Google products, so if you aren’t ready for that investment, you may be disappointed in some of the limitations you may encounter. In our situation, however, we could not be more happy with the Nest Wifi from Google.