Mesh net­work­ing for dum­mies

Google Wifi

HWM (Singapore) - - TEST - By Kenny Yeo

CON­CLU­SION This is the eas­i­est mesh net­work­ing sys­tem you will ever use.

Each Google Wi node is a com­pact white plas­tic cylin­der that mea­sures 10.6mm wide and stands at 6.8cm. Un­der­neath each node are two Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net ports, which can op­er­ate in WAN or LAN modes, and a sin­gle USB Type-C port for power.

It is su­per com­pact and min­i­mal­is­tic in de­sign. It is also per­fect for any­one who has an aver­sion to set­ting up routers. Sim­ply un­pack Google Wi, down­load the free Google Wi app (An­droid and iOS), fol­low the on­screen in­struc­tions, and you will have a mesh net­work setup within min­utes. It is al­most un­be­liev­ably sim­ple.

Ev­ery­thing is then con­trolled and man­aged us­ing the app; there is no tra­di­tional web in­ter­face. There are, how­ever, some trade­offs. Google Wi is quite ba­sic in terms of fea­tures. Users can change their Wi-Fi pass­words, cre­ate a Wi-Fi net­work for guests, and man­age fam­ily set­tings so that you, for ex­am­ple, turn o the chil­dren’s de­vices ev­ery night so that they can con­cen­trate on their home­work.

Be­yond that, there’s not much else. You can pri­or­i­tize de­vices and tweak DNS and port for­ward­ing set­tings, but there is no sup­port for VPN or Dy­namic DNS. You can­not even man­u­ally as­sign de­vices to the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands - Google Wi takes care of that for you.

Per­for­mance isn’t Google Wi’s strong­est suit ei­ther. In our tests, we found that trans­fer speeds started to dip quite dras­ti­cally past ve me­ters from the node. But if you keep within ve me­ters, Google Wi can ac­tu­ally de­liver speeds of around 350Mbps. At ten me­ters, we only man­aged around 50Mbps. Nev­er­the­less, you should still be able to com­fort­ably surf the web and watch HD clips on YouTube.

What this means is that even though it ex­pands Wi-Fi cov­er­age through its mesh net­work­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, the ex­tent to which it is ex­panded can be quite lim­ited. Ob­vi­ously, this de­pends very much on your home lay­out and en­vi­ron­ment, but it is worth keep­ing this thought in mind.

Ul­ti­mately, Google Wi is a neat Wi-Fi mesh net­work­ing sys­tem for ca­sual users whose main pri­or­ity is to have Wi-Fi cov­er­age around the house. Oh, it’s also con­sid­er­ably less pricey than its ri­vals, so there’s that too.

Ev­ery­thing is con­trolled and man­aged us­ing the Google Wi app.

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