UPDATE: The OnHub is now available on Amazon for $70.
Wifi routers are liberating, but can be a giant pain in the rear. Namely, to setup them up is a trying task for even the intermediate computer user. It generally requires the login to some IP address from a connected computer, and then navigation through archaic menus with complicated layouts. Google set out to address this problem with their first consumer router: Google OnHub.
Off the bat, the OnHub is a really attractive piece of technology. It’s cylindrical tower shape with no exposed wires makes it quite the departure from the typical low-lying antenna-clad wireless router we’re used to. It could easily sit out on an end table in your home without cluttering up the place. The notification LED light ring on top changes color based on the status, with orange indicating a problem and teal letting you know it’s firing on all cylinders.
After you remove the cover, you’ll see a simple design: a power outlet, with ethernet in and out. This makes installation simple, and covers the wires when you’re done.
Once the hardware is setup, you only need to download the Google OnHub app to your Apple or Android device. Setup on the app is about as easy as it can get. You’ll be directed on setting up your account, naming your device, and setting your password, in a very user-friendly way. Something that is beyond foreign with traditional routers.
That’s it. You now have your very own wireless network. No IT guy, no eight year old from down the street.
Perhaps some of the best features of the OnHub come from the app once you’ve setup your device. With the push of your finger, you can reset the router, share the password with a friend, and many other features.
One of the best functions of the app is the “network test” in which it will test the speed of the connection between your modem and router, as well as the wireless strength of the device you’re using. This can help you troubleshoot internet errors, pinpointing where the speed or connection breakdown is coming from.
Another trick they’ve included is the ability to prioritize a certain device’s connection. Perhaps your computer is the main need, so you can prioritize it. Or maybe your TV streaming your favorite show should take precedent over your mindless browsing on your iPad. It’s a neat way to streamline your in-home connectivity.
As far as the specs go, it’s also a really advanced device. There’s a graphic below of the specifics, but as you’ll see, it’s far from average. Twelve antennas pushing out signal in a circular fashion, with one antenna measuring interference, is just one notable feature.
The Google OnHub also touts the ability to constantly scan your network to improve performance. The hardware comes with 4GB of memory to install software and firmware updates, giving it the ability to continue to be improved by Google long after you’ve purchased it. Oh, and they’ve tucked in a few unused features that might make it the future of smart home connectivity as well (stayed tuned as that develops).
Summary: should you buy this neat toy? With a $199 price tag, it’s not the most affordable router on the market. However, it has some really good upsides that are worth considering.
Are you already looking at a higher-end 802.11ac router? Then this has to be in the runnings. Right inline with other similar products, the added functionality pushes it way over the edge.
Are you setting up a connection for someone technically challenged? Whether it be your neighbor or grandmother, giving them the freedom to reset, test the connection, etc. without bothering you could be the best peace of mind you’ve purchased.
If you’re just looking for a simple, expensive router, there are plenty on the market in the $50 range. If you’re looking however to take a more firm control over your home network, this product is exactly what you need.