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4 Nov 2019

Hands on with Google Nest WiFi Router and Point

We've been trying out Google's latest mesh router with voice assistant to see if it really helps boost wi-fi in the home

The Nest WiFi Router and Point is the first home wi-fi launch from Google since Nest was reabsorbed in 2018, and it's a big step up from the previous Google WiFi.

The new launch is a router/mesh combo, which works to boost signal around the home - but that's not all. Google's 'points' have Google Assistant smart speakers integrated inside, which mean you can use them just like you would a Nest Mini smart speaker.

At £239 for the router and a two-pack of points, it's a reasonable price, especially as the Nest Mini is £49 on its own. You can expect to pay anywhere upwards of £175 for a Best Buy mesh system and some go up to £250 or more.

We've been trying it out and have picked out some of the key benefits. Read our full Google Nest Wifi Router and Point first look review to see how we got on.

Three key benefits to the Google Nest WiFi

Boost your wi-fi signal

Google's Nest WiFi Router and Point both work together as a mesh system, to boost your wi-fi signal. The router alone has the capability to reach up to 120 square metres and each point up to 90 square metres, plenty for a medium-sized home. There's also the option to add an additional point, if you have an extra-large home or want signal to reach even further, such as into the back garden. Plus, it's backward compatible with the previous model, so you can add a smart speaker to your existing system, without buying the new router.

One of the benefits of mesh systems is that they're smart, and Google's new device is fitted with technology which will optimise your wireless network. It works in the background to proactively improve performance, using methods such as bandsteering - which directs your devices to channels with the best performance in order to reduce congestion and boost speeds.

Google also promises that each router and point can handle a 100 connected devices - that's a huge 200 devices in total -and has the capability to stream multiple 4K video streams at once. If you're struggling to get wi-fi in the far corners of your home, or sick and tired of fighting over who gets to stream Netflix, a device like this is ideal.

Voice assistance throughout the home

With Nest WiFi, each point acts as a smart speaker, fitted with Google Assistant, so you can use voice controls in whichever room you place them.

But it doesn't just stop at wi-fi controls. The smart speakers inside the wi-fi points can do everything that a Nest Mini can, so you can place one in your bedroom and tell it to wake you up in the morning, with the weather forecast and a round-up of the latest news. You can play your favourite playlists, ask about the best shows on Netflix from the living room or control smart devices wherever you are in the home.

Helpful parental controls

Nest WiFi is controlled via the Google Home app, where you can manage your devices, add home members and check the status of your wi-fi. There's also the option to apply parental controls in the 'digital wellbeing' section of the app. This includes everything from restricting adult content in YouTube videos to setting scheduled downtime for the kids' devices. Even if you haven't got this set up, or want to apply these controls on the fly, you can use voice controls with Google Assistant. If you've got a point in the kitchen or kids' room, you can easily tell Google to 'pause the wi-fi for the kids' while eating dinner or when it's bedtime.

Should you buy a mesh system or extender?

Mesh systems aren't the only devices on the market that can extend your wireless connection. Extenders are similar, but lack a lot of the capabilities that mesh systems have. They literally duplicate the signal from your router, thus 'extending' the reach. You have to make sure they're close enough to connect to your router and also extend into whatever blackspot you're trying to fill. If your issue is purely reach, an extender can do the job at improving coverage for a much cheaper price.

If you want something that does a little bit more than duplicate your signal, such as improve wireless performance, offer better speeds at long range and cope with lots of people online at once, a mesh is the best choice. Plus, these devices often have partner apps which offer parental and security controls.

To find out more about the differences between them, read our guide to wi-fi systems and mesh networks. You can also browse our extender reviewsand our mesh system reviews to find out how the latest models fared in our lab tests.