Google Wifi system (set of 3) - Router replacement for whole home coverage by Google
A new type of connected system for seamless Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home, helping eliminate dead zones and buffering;Replaces your current router, and works your modem and internet service. It's compatible with major internet service providers including Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon Fios;A single Wifi point covers up to 1,500 sq. ft, a set of three covers homes up to 4,500 sq. ft. Wifi points work together so you can add more if you need additional coverage;Network Assist technology keeps your connection fast by always selecting the clearest channel and fastest band for your devices;A simple app gets you set up quickly and allows you to see what's connected, prioritize devices, and pause the Wi-Fi on kids' devices
Pros: its easy to setup, seems to be reliable and coverage is VASTLY improved over my Apple Airport Extreme. I like the app with the speed tests and other info like connected devices.
Cons: If you have more than one unit you are forced to use NAT on the main unit, thus making your entire network a NAT, which in many cases causes it to be a sub-NAT if your router is not bridgeable. Mine is not, AT&T in their infinite wisdom has no way of doing a pure bridge, never a dull moment with AT&T and Comcast, ughh.
So in my case, I was forced to do the DMZ dance with my AT&T modem, some of you may know that DMZ is NOT the same as a pure bridge between modem and router and let me explain why.
In a pure bridge ALL traffic in and out, originated within or from outside is just passed to the Main Google Wi-Fi unit, then it handles ALL routing in and out. IN a DMZ ALL ports are pointed to an IP (my Google Wi-Fi main unit), however unlike a pure bridge not all data gets thru like it should.
Example # 1
My Ryobi garage door opener has an app to open and close it. After I completed setting up my new Mesh network, I could not complete the setup of the garage door opener, the setup process ALWAYS got stock during the setup process, I tried maybe 50 times. For days I thought the GDO was broken, I even started an RMA with Ryobi. I decided that it was FAR too coincidental that it stopped working at the same time as I installed the Google Wi-Fi so I installed my old Apple Airport Extreme Wi-Fi and I hooked it directly to my AT& T modem, thus bypassing the NAT on the Google Wi-FI and BAM! the install worked, and it worked over and over, I tried it several times. * Update, it working on the Apple Airport Extreme could be because the Ryobi GDO only runs 2.4 Ghz and the Google Mesh was so close to the GDO it forced the GDO to use 5 Ghz Wi-Fi (dumbly) and Google Wi-Fi has no way to hard set 2.4 Ghz on any specific Wi-Fi device. -- OR it could be as originally thought, the NAT causing the issue, I am just not sure at this point, either way, this is a problem I did not have prior to installing Google Wi-Fi.
I use D-Link Home smart outlets, they offer a scheduling function, example turn lights on at 5 PM and off at 11 PM. This scheduling stopped working when I installed the Google Wi-Fi. If I manually turned a light on or off thru the app it always worked but the schedule for all 5 of these devices stopped working completely. I unplugged them, reset them over and over and nothing fixed it until I also reset them and put them back on my Apple Airport Extreme that was hooked directly to my AT&T modem, BAM the schedule started to work.
So the moral of the story is this. If you have smart devices in your house, some of those smart devices, probably the older ones, may not work correctly behind the NAT OR maybe 2.4 Ghz Wi-Fi ONLY.
Either problem WILL NOT be apparent that it is due to the Google Wi-FI. Basically what I am saying is use basic logic, if devices worked before installing Google Wi-Fi and now they don't work or partially work its highly likely due to double NAT (Network Address Translation) OR your devices only use the 2.4 Ghz Wi-Fi spectrum and GW is trying to use 5 Ghz on that device.
In my opinion, Google needs to let users opt out of the NAT on the Google Wi-FI if we want to allow our modems to continue to be the ONLY NAT. Yes, I know Google, some of the nice app functions like the mesh to mesh speed test won't work right but at least I will be able to open my garage door and turn on my lights.
At this point, the advantages outweigh the problems and I am moving forward with Google Wi-Fi HOWEVER if I find more surprises I might send it back for a return. I tried the overpriced UB - UNIFI MESH W-Fi system before this and that was really nice but my T-Mobile Wi-Fi calling didn't stay connected on my iPhones when I was home and at the time that problem seemed like a huge problem to me LOL, now its not that bad to be honest and that is where I will go back to if Google Wi-FI does not work out. Lets see.
To Google, I took the time to tell you in detail where your deficiencies are, both here in this review and directly to you, it is my sincere hope you add a way to turn off the NAT for multiple nodes or figure out why DMZ is not functioning the same as a true bridge and make it work so it does.
There are / will be a LOT of customers that have smart devices in their homes that don't understand why suddenly some of their stuff stops working and will just give up and send your devices back. I personally think you could have done a better job being compatible with devices, it almost seems like some stubborn decisions were made on your part to force NAT and 5 Ghz on your users Google? Why?
People have complained about loss of flexibity and tweaking since they have to use their phone to configure the google network. I have no issues with doing anything I did prior to using this. I work from home and connect to my employer via VPN with no issues. I can view network traffic, turn off internet for the kids and see how many devices are connected at the click of a button on my phone. No longing into the router from my desktop or my phones tiny browser. When you walk from one level to the next, I can see which google router I am connected to. It automatically switches to the closest one as advertised.
Installation was easy and I was up and running in less than 20 minutes with a mesh grid of all three access points. I have an 11K ft2 property with multiple structures. I put the main router unit (which was plugged into my network via ethernet) at one end of my main house and I put another satellite unit at the other end of my main house. I put the second satellite unit in my garage (separate structure in the corner of the property).
Speedtests: At various locations around the property from an Mac OS laptop were as follows: From any location in the main house I was able to get
speeds easily exceeding 100Mbps. The highest was 140Mbps. From my Garage and from locations in my yard near to my garage I was able to get speeds up to 50Mbps (average was about 44Mbps). Decent speeds. Based on speeds alone, I'd say the Google gets 3 stars because I have heard of much better speeds from mesh dual radio systems but still, 43MBps at the far reaches of the mesh is plenty for streaming video.
But for me, the fun stopped there. The main issue I had with the system was that it is designed strictly for people who have absolutely zero understanding or interest in computer networking and is very limited in how you can setup your network. The software that you install on your phone goes to great lengths to protect you from all technical details. This could be a good thing for some and that was indeed one reason why I purchased this system (because my wife wanted something that she could fix when I was gone and she knows zero and cares zero about computer networks) That said, I think there is a limit to how simple one can or should make something that is fundamentally technically complex. In my opinion Google crosses the line with this system trying to deliver wifi configuration and management in a wrapper of non-technical consumer messaging similar to what you might find on your facebook app.
Here's some examples:
Network Setup: The system configures an ip network automatically without prompting you for an ip address or subnet, DHCP range or anything else other than the SSID name. It does the same with wifi security. You can change the ip addresses later under the advanced settings section but not the wifi security. You have a particular type of wifi security you want? or your curious what Google is using? Sorry. I could see no way to Wifi security settings settings or change them.
Radios: There is no ability to adjust the power or direction of the radios. The Google solution seems to be to just try moving the wifi pods around to different spots.
Now for the worst: The router. So in the CNET review that I read, it clearly stated that Google Wifi can be used in either bridge mode or as a router/gateway directly to your modem. Since I have already a VERY high performance Ubiquiti router, this review was important to me because it meant that I can implement Google Wifi as a wifi mesh solution only and not disturb my very high performing core wired network or routing. The truth is (rather hilariously) quite different. This solution in my testing ONLY functions as a router/gateway replacing your existing router. It MUST plug directly into your modem in order for it to work as it has been designed. The router functionality provides layer 2 network that cannot be configured or turned off. So if you have a router already you are stuck with double NAT and all the issues this brings. Now the hilarious part. There is in fact a setting under the advanced network configuration settings section that ostensibly allows you to switch the system into bridge mode. But nowhere during setup does it give you the opportunity to do this. It does not sense that you already have a layer 2 network setup. It just goes ahead and configures it's own router, gateway and network. Then when you try to change it to bridge mode later the toggle switch is grayed out and there is only one clickable link on the page that says "Device mode has been automatically set. Learn more". upon clicking this takes you to a verbose help article which i am compelled to paste here in it's entirety so as to save others like me a lot of wasted time:
Most people won’t need bridge mode, but for those who do, we’ve outlined some recommended setups below.
When to use Bridge mode: Bridge mode is only needed when encountering specific cases of Double NAT. For most people, Double NAT does not affect Wi-Fi performance. But it can be an issue if you play online games or use IP address assignments, port forwarding rules, and UPnP. Learn more about Double NAT and when you might need Bridge mode.
Does Google Wifi support Bridge mode?
Yeah, but it will only work if you’re using a single Wifi point. If you’re creating a mesh network with multiple Wifi points, your Primary Wifi point cannot be in Bridge mode. This is because the Primary Wifi point needs to do special things to control settings and communication within your Wi-Fi network. If it’s in bridge mode, you’ll lose some of Google Wifi’s key features.
How do I enable bridge mode?
If you are only using a single Google Wifi point andDouble NAT is causing problems, you have two options:
Enable bridge mode on your ISP-provided modem/router (RECOMMENDED)
Enable bridge mode on your primary Wifi point (NOT RECOMMENDED"
OK! Great. So in summary if you play online gaming, use UPnP, have any port forwarding setup, or have assigned IPs, Or [let me add] print! ..(from any device wired into your ISP provided router)... you CANT use Google Wifi as a mesh system! The hilarious part is that the toggle switch is even there! Why not just make this abundantly clear to people up front?!?!
Bottom line this system is NOT a wifi mesh system alone. It is an ALL-IN-ONE home network. You will need everything in your house to be on the Google wifi network or plugged into one of the LAN ports provided on one of the Google wifi pods. (Each Google pod gives you two LAN ports accept for the one acting as the router which gives you one.
So why is this so bad? Well for starters the router functionality itself will become the bottle neck in your network quite easily if you have traffic of a typical house (50=-75 devices including IoT, security cameras, mobile devices, consoles, HiFi, Smart TVs, etc.) Even with a quad core ARM processor (That Google advertises as a feature on the "lets get technical" section of their online sales brochures), acting as a MESH main access point and a gateway/router is going to put too much burden on a single Google pod. The odd thing is that the same compliment of computing is being wasted on the other pods acting as satellites.
Some other points about the router:
QOS -> has been renamed "Priority device" Singular not plural. You can pick just one!
VLAN -> has been renamed " Guest Network" and yes you guessed it. You can setup only one!
Port Forwarding and DHCP reservations are configurable but sadly the port forwarding does not support ranges and port forward rules cannot be edited once created. The only option is to delete and start over.
There is a potentially cool feature available called "Family Wi-Fi" that allows you to enable website filtering of adult sites, and pause WAN connectivity but it does not work unless you enable the Google cloud services that sniff your network. (more on that next)
Do No Evil - Ok I had to include this in my review... So There is also a "Privacy" settings under "network & general" section. (I went poking in here as part of my futile attempt to understand how the Wifi security had been setup.) This section has three toggle switches all by default have been turned on. What do they do? Again I feel compelled to paste the un-abridged version herein (refer to screen shot).
So in essence, without notifying the user Google has basically setup network sniffing at the layer 2 router level of your private network and is reporting stats back to Google! And the quad core CPU that is already over burdened is doing that processing too! It should be noted that unlike setting up an Apple device where you know there will be that one screen during setup that asks you permission to turn on reporting back to Apple, with this Google Wifi there was no such screen or notification during setup. Oh and they also set the DNS to 188.8.131.52 and only 184.108.40.206. (for those who don't know 220.127.116.11 is Google's main public internet domain name server) All this can be changed. But its a bit sneaky and IMHO a violation privacy to pre-configure it to the lowest level of privacy. The target non-technical user of this system will probably never even know.
So in summary Thanks Amazon for the 30 day return policy. I very much appreciate trying this system out.
I give this a 2 star rating for a person like me. For a complete non tech person who just wants to plug in and go, I maybe give it 3 stars. It will probably be better than what your ISP gives you in terms of wifi performance. But you MUST put your other router in bridge mode and you MUST be aware of the monitoring Google will be doing of your network activity.
In my opinion this device is a really more about maintaining and extending Google dominance of your online usage than anything else. It is a $300 system that arguably benefits Google more than the consumer who paid or it.