A quick caveat at the top This isn’t a critique. Slashbeats conducts reviews. This isn’t one of them. This is due to a number of factors. First, there was Disrupt last week, and I was on the other side of the country. Second, this is my COVID week (third round, otherwise self-explanatory given the limited output). Third, we rarely review routers here for a variety of reasons, including limited resources.
Nonetheless, the Nest Wifi Pro is now available, so I’m adding some of my initial thoughts to the page after setting it up and using it for a few days. If you’ve been eyeing one since its unveiling earlier this month, I hope this information is useful. If you require something more substantial than my doughy brain can provide at the moment, I completely understand. We have a slew of major reviews on the horizon.
This is critical to remember when dealing with products like this. This is a solid entry into Wi-Fi 6E territory for $199. If you need a quick boost to your home internet and your current dusty old router is about to die, you’d be hard pressed to find a better “just works” system out of the box. I say this as someone who has spent hours on the phone with terrible ISP customer service because of some phantom ghost in the machine of the company routers. It’s amazing how often the solution is as simple as someone flipping a switch on their end.
As someone who hosts a lot of podcasts and video livestreams, I was long overdue for a wireless upgrade. More embarrassing things can happen during a live broadcast, but we won’t go into them here. To summarize, a strong and consistent internet connection is critical to my job.
Another caveat I should mention before we go any further is one I frequently give when testing smart home technology: I currently reside in New York City. This means that I have a relatively small living space. I live in a one-bedroom apartment. Google claims that the Nest Wifi Pro has a coverage area of 2,200 square feet (4,400 for a two-pack, 6,600 for the three, etc.).
With that in mind, one device was sufficient. Speeds can vary throughout the day, but I found mine to be fairly consistent no matter how close I was to the router. If you’re unsure whether a single device will suffice, it should for anything less than 1,000 square feet. The bundle becomes more appealing as you get closer to 2,000 square feet. The good news is that adding Google mesh routers down the road is simple (though you won’t get the bundle savings).
If you’ve ever set up most smart home products — Google/Nest products in particular, for obvious reasons — the setup process will be familiar. From the user’s point of view, there isn’t much to the device (again, this is intentional). The design is arguably even simpler than its predecessor. The matte color has been replaced with a shiny, plain job, making it taller and slimmer. Your mileage may vary on that last point, but like other Nest products, this one is designed primarily to blend in with its surroundings.
There are three ports: one for power and two for Ethernet, one for the modem and one for hardwiring a single device. That last bit, of course, is a potential limiter, as is the 1Gbps upper limit on the built-in Ethernet (presumably to keep the system under $200). Depending on your specific plan, this may or may not be an issue. If you have fiber, for example, you will experience bottlenecking. I’m stuck with Spectrum for the time being (I know, I know), so there’s no problem there.
However, you obviously do not want a device that sits between you and the wall and slows down your internet speeds. In either case, the service you use will determine your maximum speeds.
To get started, download the Google Home app, and you’ll be guided through a simple setup process that will be sped up if you can take a photo of the QR code on the product’s underside. The included paper startup guide consists of three basic steps (plug in router, download app, follow on-screen instructions) and two images spread across two small pages. I’m not going to say that’s all you need, but if you don’t run into any problems (which is always a possibility with networking devices), it should suffice.
Nest Wifi was a good system, and if you bought one, you probably don’t need to upgrade. Its combined speed for Wi-Fi 5 was 2.2Gbps, compared to 5.4Gbps for the Wifi Pro. Keep in mind that those figures are combined across the three bands. Let’s just say the figures are very optimistic.
Here’s Wi-Fi Alliance CEO Edgar Figueroa from 2020 about the upgrade from Wi-Fi 5:
6 GHz will help address the growing need for Wi-Fi spectrum capacity to ensure Wi-Fi users continue to receive the same great user experience with their devices. Wi-Fi Alliance is introducing Wi-Fi 6E now to ensure the industry aligns on common terminology, allowing Wi-Fi users to identify devices that support 6 GHz operation as the spectrum becomes available.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Pro is not backward compatible with the standard Nest Wifi. That means no mixing and matching. That’s a shame, because there are some great deals on old, standard Nest Wifi devices right now. Another minor point to mention is that, unlike their predecessor, there is no built-in smart speaker here. However, as I type this, you can currently purchase a Nest Mini directly from Google for $20.
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Other nice features of Google’s Nest devices include dedicated networks for guests, parental controls, and over-the-air security updates. This is a tough package to beat for a quick and easy way to get your home Wi-Fi network up and running at high speed (including access to the 6GHz band), combined with some family-friendly features. The Pro is available for $200 for one, $300 for two, and $400 for three.