Oh, my. October 4 will be a big day for Google as the company is expected to reveal a number of new gadgets including Chromecast Ultra supporting 4K video, Pixel smartphones, Google Home, and a branded network router called Google Wifi. Sources close to Google’s upcoming product reveal claims the latter device will cost $129, and will provide “smart” features to make network management easy for general consumers.
According to the sources, Google will advertise the router as a device packing better Wi-Fi coverage than competing products. While most router manufacturers make this claim, Google’s angle will be that customers can purchase multiple Google Wifi routers and link them together, creating one large Wi-Fi network, eliminating weak spots in a home or office.
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Right now, consumers can expand their wireless coverage in several ways. For starters, they could purchase a router and an additional repeater unit to expand coverage. The repeater essentially grabs the wireless signal of the router and casts the signal into other areas the router cannot reach. Another method could be to purchase more than one router and chain them all together via an Ethernet cable, which is ugly but gets the job done in covering dead spots.
How Google’s routers will connect to each other is unknown. Google may have injected the device with a repeater-like mode that will grab the first router’s wireless signal — the unit connected to the modem provided by the ISP — and extend the coverage to other parts of the house or office. Google will reportedly call this “mesh technology,” meaning users can keep adding on Google Wifi routers without disrupting the network.
The competing Luma system works by connecting the ISP’s modem to the first Luma unit via an Ethernet cable, which grabs the Internet access and throws it into the air. The other two Luma devices wirelessly connect to the first unit, grabbing the signal and providing network coverage in other parts of the building. The company suggests a minimum of three devices to provide excellent wireless coverage, hence the $400 three-unit bundle.
Sources say Google’s router will be similar in nature to the Amazon Echo Dot regarding its overall form factor. Amazon’s device is rather small, making it easy to hide thanks to the elimination of ugly external antennas. The Luma Home Wi-Fi system and the Eero Home Wi-Fi system do not feature protruding external antennas, which are two systems Google’s solution will supposedly follow. If that is the case, the company may provide a three-pack bundle in addition to a standalone unit.
Google Wifi devices will be modular, according to sources, allowing customers to add parts to the base unit. They will also reportedly sport dual-band connectivity, with up to 867Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, making it a AC1200-class device. Other features will include Bluetooth connectivity, two Ethernet ports (WAN/LAN), and 802.15.4 radios. The $129 price is expected to cover one Google Wifi unit.
Google first jumped into the Wi-Fi router business back in August 2015 with OnHub. The device is currently provided through Asus and TP-Link, offering AC1900-class speeds of up to 1,300Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. Standing nearly eight inches tall like a tiny nuclear plant, OnHub includes two gigabit Ethernet ports (WAN/LAN)) and WPA2-PSK wireless security. The Asus unit retails for $220 while the TP-Link device sells for $200.
Given all this Google router talk is rumors from unnamed sources, we will just have to impatiently wait and see what Google has planned early next month.
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