Home is where the WiFi connects automatically. For me, that’s two different locations. One is a Dublin City centre apartment while the other is my childhood home in Kilkenny. Now, both locations do indeed have WiFi connections that all my devices connect to automatically, but both also pose fairly connectivity problems. I tried out a Google WiFi system to see if it could solve them.
What is Google WiFi?
First thing’s first. Google WiFi doesn’t replace your need for an internet provider or having a modem in your home. You’ll still need someone like eir, Vodafone, Sky or Virgin Media to provide you with an internet connection. You connect Google WiFi to your modem where it then broadcasts a WiFi signal around your home.
There are a couple of reasons why this is very cool and useful.
Google WiFi Mesh
You can either buy a Google WiFi on its own or in a three pack. The reason for this is because you can connect the devices together to create what Google refers to as a Mesh network connection.
Google WiFi’s Mesh functionality overcomes the primary problem I experience with the internet connection in my childhood home in Kilkenny. The walls are foot and a half thick granite. The modem in the hall barely services the surrounding rooms thanks to the bunker-like resistance offered by the granite walls.
When I was testing, I only needed two of the Google WiFis to extend the internet connection all the way around the home. This meant I now had a connection in ‘the far bedroom’ which hasn’t seen a crisp WiFi connection in a long, long time. Here’s a WiFi strength test I ran in ‘the far room’ before connecting the Google WiFi (on the left) and after (on the right):
Network Assist Channel Selection
Have you ever been stuck in traffic wondering if you took that left turn up ahead, could your whole commute be faster? Just like being stuck on a crowded road, your WiFi connection can suffer from overcrowding. This is an issue in my Dublin apartment where right now there are 26 wireless internet connections around me. All of these run on a finite number of channels and these channels, like the routes home, can become congested with traffic.
Generally, once you set up a modem, it checks all of the channels and places you on the fastest, but this can change over time. Google WiFi has software built in which scans the network and surrounding channels every five minutes and picks the fastest one for your internet connection.
That’s probably one of the coolest and most useful features you can enjoy with a single Google WiFi, but by no means is it the last feature.
Parental Access Controls
We’re big fans of providing kids with internet access but also teaching them the key values involved with responsible internet usage. iKydz is a fantastic Irish company which provides a solution to this problem and helps monitor and block children’s internet usage. If you have a Google WiFi you can also enjoy similar benefits.
Google SafeSearch is one of those fundamental ways to protect children online. The only problem is that it can be quite easy to disable on a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Google WiFi allows you to assign only Google SafeSearch access to a device using that particular WiFi connection.
With just that only setting, your kid’s smart device will no longer be able to access any of the almost eight million websites considered by Google to be unsafe.
I particularly like this as it’s non-intrusive. You’re not monitoring your kid’s internet connection but are somewhat safe in knowing they cannot access adult content.
Device Time Restrictions
When is bedtime? When is study time? When is dinner time?
You can use your Google WiFi connection to restrict certain devices from accessing the internet. If your kids are slow to get out of the sitting room because they are on YouTube, with the flick of a switch, their devices will no longer have access to the internet. If bedtime is 9 pm, their devices can be cut off from that time forward – a good idea as studies show the light from screens before sleep can be over stimulating.
Google WiFi Review: The Verdict
You can only buy one or three and to be honest, most people will find both options to be quite pricey:
- Google WiFi – €139
- Google WiFi 3-pack – €359
Now, that’s pricey if you don’t live in a house with a very limited internet connection or an older-styled gaff with massive granite walls. If you do, chances are you can’t put a price on a stable internet connection.
The other thing I haven’t mentioned is just how easy the setup is. The Google WiFi app will guide you through the setup, helping you to optimise and control your network while also offering a portal through to a typically helpful Google customer care rep.
While pricey, the Google WiFi is one of the easiest to set up and effective ways to improve your home internet connection regardless of your home size.