What is the biggest flaw with Wi-Fi routers? If you don't have them out in the open, their performance drops, often a lot. Most people hide their router because it's big and boxy and looks out of place in their home, usually their living room. The latest range of mesh Wi-Fi routers have come a long way to improve this, but even they still look like pieces of tech and don't blend into the ambiance of your home.
Enter the Nest Wifi, which aims to be the most stylish wifi router ever made. Unlike Google Wifi, where each of the pucks looked identical, the Nest Wifi has a distinct router, which is white, and colorful access points, which come in multiple colors. Both look stylish and almost like large candles.
The Nest Wifi router proves to be the brains behind your Wi-Fi connection, while the point allows you to extend the range in a way that blends into your home. As good as the Nest Wifi system is, it's definitely on the pricey side when compared to the best wireless routers, so does the style have any substance? Let's find out!
Assistant or speed, it's up to you
Bottom line: Whether it's for the Assistant support in the Wifi point or the pure power of the 4x4 MIMO in the router, there's a Nest Wifi setup for everyone. If you want a single router and Wifi point (with Assistant), check out the 2-pack bundle from Best Buy, while Amazon is your go-to place if you want the power with its exclusive two-router bundle.
- Fast Wi-Fi speeds
- Excellent coverage with just one router
- Access points are stylish and have built-in Assistant features
- Can get pricey for a whole-home solution
- Limited ethernet options
- Router only comes in white
Nest Wifi What I like
Most innovations in Wi-Fi routers are, frankly, boring. There's a ton of technical jargon that most people don't care about, but the Nest Wifi is different. Yes, it has all the tech, but more importantly, it tries to make the box itself more useful by turning those Wifi points into Google Assistant speakers. Now I've used the Nest Wifi point for a few days, it's unbelievable that no-one did it sooner.
It's unbelievable no-one put a smart speaker and router together sooner.
The Nest Wifi point is essentially a cross between the router and the recently-released Nest Mini. It features the same haptic controls on either side so you can adjust the volume, comes in a choice of white, sand or blue colors so you can match the decor in your apartment, and has a beautiful ring light around the bottom. The ring light has been handy as a light, especially when I'm fumbling around in the middle of the night.
It's also a replacement for multiple devices in my home. I have over 100 devices connected to my router at any given time (over 50 of these are connected home products like smart lights), and replacing a few of the older Google Home devices in my house with the added benefit of having a better Wi-Fi connection is definitely appealing. Of course, at a starting price of $149 for a single Wifi point, it's not quite the throwaway purchase that the $49 (or less) Nest Mini is, but it's there as a viable alternative option.
Beyond Assistant, the mesh Wi-Fi network has been great to use as well. The whole setup process took under ten minutes to set up a Wifi network and two access points, which is about 10% faster than the Google Home and about 30% faster than the Samsung SmartThings router. I've been using Google Wifi for several years now, and the Nest Wifi provides considerably better performance overall.
This is hardly surprising given the Google Wifi was released three years ago, but before you run out and replace your entire gear, Nest Wifi and Google Wifi are compatible with each other. This allows you to either replace your entire network and use existing Google Wifi hardware as additional Wifi points, or pick up the Nest Wifi point if you want to increase the range and scope of your network.
If you don't have a Google Wifi already, a single Nest Wifi router is capable of covering about 2200 square feet on its own, while each Wifi point offers approximately 1800 square feet of coverage. The 2-pack is rated as covering 3800 square feet, but in reality, I've yet to find a mesh wifi network that can handle modern buildings like my condo, which features a mix of concrete, steel, and the primary connection to the router in a cupboard.
The single router and two Wifi points provide all-home coverage, but importantly, at least for me, they also have a wider range for when I'm in the elevator. I live on the 26th floor, and there's a period of about ten floors where I'm riding the elevator and not connected to Wi-Fi. With the Nest Wifi, this drops to between five stories on the iPhone 11 Pro and no downtime on certain Android phones. While not a scientific test in any way, it's a welcome improvement that I benefit from multiple times per day.
Nest WiFi What I don't like
To get all the benefits of the Google Wifi system, you'll have to pay for it. Here's the various bundles and ways you can set it up:
- $169 – 1 Nest Wifi router (~2200 sq. ft.)
- $149 – One Nest Wifi point (covers approximately 1600 sq. ft.)
- $269 – 1 Nest Wifi router and 1 Wifi point (~3800 sq. ft.)
- $299 – 2 Nest Wifi routers (~4400 sq. ft.)
- $349 – 1 Nest Wifi router and 2 Wifi points (~5400 sq. ft.)
Despite the high price, you're also a little limited by some of the features. The Nest Wifi is the first consumer router to support the new WPA3 password standard, but it won't work on a device running iOS 11 or earlier. WPA3 is turned off out of the box, but if you do enable it, it's worth keeping this in mind.
There's also the lack of Wi-Fi 6. I recently spoke with Google's Product Manager for the Nest Wifi about the upcoming standard, and the company confirmed it didn't think Wi-Fi 6 was a standard worth charging a premium for just yet, as only a few products support it. However, this feels a little shortsighted as, although the company can launch a WiFi-6 enabled router down the line and make it compatible, you'll still have to buy additional hardware once it's widely adopted.
The biggest disappointment with the Nest Wifi is the sole reliance on, well, Wi-Fi rather than offering a hardwired alternative. There's a single ethernet port on the router, and none on the Wifi points. As a result, many people who want physical connections to their routers will require a switch. For example, I use Philips Hue lights and the Hue Bridge takes over this ethernet port. Although the Nest Wifi offers an excellent wireless connection, wired connections are always faster and more reliable, and it's frustrating that the Nest Wifi is so limited in this regard.
Nest Wifi It's worth the price
Despite a few negatives, I like the Nest Wifi. It's pricey, but it certainly delivers on the promise of having both style and substance.
The Nest Wifi point, in particular, is an excellent trojan horse by Google, as it introduces Assistant to a wider scope of potential customers. At I/O 2016, Google said the Assistant was designed to be all around you, rather than confined to a single product, and the Nest Wifi point is the most significant sign of this.
By adding Assistant to the Nest Wifi point and making them stylish and colorful, Google has ensured the Nest Wifi is a pioneer of both the smart Wi-Fi market and the stylish Wi-Fi market. Of course, it won't be for everyone, but if you are a Google household and want less individual devices without losing any functionality, the Nest Wifi is a great product.
Speaker or speed, it's up to you
One, two, three, or four?
Whether it's for the Assistant support in the Wifi point or the pure power of the 4x4MIMO in each router, there's a Nest Wifi setup for everyone. If you want a single router and Wifi point (with Assistant), check out the 2-pack bundle from Best Buy, while Amazon is your go-to place if you want all the power with its exclusive two router bundle.
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