The latest version of Google’s Nest Wifi has hit the market. The Nest Wifi Pro sounds like it should be a considerable step up — and it is, depending on your viewpoint.
The devices come with wifi 6E, the latest version of wifi technology, and Thread and Matter support to help your smart home run more simply in the future. Google has also added wired ethernet ports to each of the points so you can connect your devices over a cable if needed, and ditched the Google Assistant from each of the wifi points.
It’s expensive, though, at €460 for a three-pack, and €220 for a single router. That makes it more expensive than its predecessor and other mesh kits that are available.
But is the Nest Wifi Pro worth buying? There are a few things to consider.
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First of all, the obvious question: what is wifi 6E, and is it worth having? It’s the latest in wifi technology that brings faster speeds and lower latencies than previous technologies. It’s an extension of the wifi 6 standard — hence the “E” — and allows access to the 6GHz band, in addition to the standard 2.4Ghz and the 5Ghz bands.
The bad news? Many of the devices in your home right now probably won’t be able to take advantage of the full capabilities of the new wifi standard, connecting over the 6GHz band, although you can expect that to change going forward. Some smartphones support it, including Google’s Pixel devices from the 6 upwards, and some newer Samsung Galaxy premium devices.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s no benefit from the extra band; your mesh network itself will be able to use it, so expect better performance from there.
The other thing that the Nest Wifi Pro brings is ethernet ports. Unlike its predecessor, the new version includes two ports on each point, so if you find a wired connection is needed, you can simply plug it in. Wired speeds top out at 1Gbps.
But the main thing is how it works as a mesh network. And the short answer? Quite well. Performance was smooth — as promised — and there were no dropouts or noticeable slowing of the network.
Setting up the device was relatively easy, once I got past the initial hiccups. Unlike the previous version of the Nest Wifi, all points are created equal with the Pro; you can use any of them as the main one connected to your broadband provider’s modem, and then spread the remainder through your home to ensure you have a good blanket of wifi coverage.
I found the process easier using an Android phone, after several attempts to set up the additional points through the Google Home iOS app ended in a full reset of the system.
Once the points are set up, there’s not much else to do apart from connect your home devices to the network. There were no random “device offline” notifications either, which was occasionally an issue with the previous version of the router.
Each point covers up to 120sq m (1,290sq ft), so a three-pack will more than cover the average Irish home. And moving from point to point was seamless, as it should be.
The devices have a Thread border router built in, which will allow it to work with all smart home devices that support the smart home standard, eliminating the need for additional hubs for different brands of product. And they are Matter-enabled, which future-proofs your smart home for the days when your smart devices will seamlessly work together.
A couple of things to note: it’s not backwards-compatible with previous Nest Wifi or Google Wifi devices, which is disappointing. If you plan on upgrading your network, you’ll have to do the whole lot at once, which, as previously noted, will be pricey. Google says it’s a user experience issue; the differing support for bands could cause issues for users.
And if you liked the Google Assistant feature of the previous Nest Wifi, prepare for disappointment. The Pro has no Google Assistant at all.
The Nest Wifi Pro looks the part, with a glossy surface compared with the previous version’s matt surface that seemed to attract dust and dirt a little too easily for my liking. It’s also more compact than the previous version.
The inclusion of wifi 6E future-proofs the devices for you, as it’s unlikely you’ll want to spend too much money on more mesh kits in a couple of years’ time.
If you want a wired connection, you have two ethernet ports to choose from.
The kit is also expandable — if you have the money to do it, of course.
Not so good
This kit is not compatible with the previous version of the Nest Wifi, which is a bit of a pain if you have already invested in Google’s mesh system and only want to add another point or two, or add the extra band support in certain rooms of the house.
It also removes the Google Assistant feature from the speakers; the Wifi Pro is all about making your home internet-easier, not taking care of all the other life admin.
And pricewise, it’s more expensive than other options on the market, which may be off-putting to some people.
The Nest Wifi Pro comes in several colours, including white, grey and a colour Google calls lemongrass.
The Nest Wifi Pro concentrates on delivering stable, fast wifi — and it delivers; however, it comes at a price.