Review: Nest Wifi Pro is built for the work-from-home era

Review: Nest Wifi Pro is built for the work-from-home era

Nest Wifi Pro is designed to be the perfect investment to modernize your office in the age of working from home, but are the benefits of Wi-Fi 6E worth the increased cost?

Setup is always easy

As always, the Nest Wifi Pro is designed to be as easy as possible to install in your home. Inside the box, you’ll find the high-gloss router held in place by a fabric pad, to prevent scratches, along with a power cable and an Ethernet cable. One thing that disappointed me is that Google still only includes one Ethernet cable in the $399 three-pack box.

If it’s your first time investing in a Nest Wifi for your home, the process is too easy, with the Google Home app guiding you through every step. Setting up the main router and an extender took just over 10 minutes in total, including the time it took to download and install the latest update. Where possible, Google Home now shows an in-app timer, giving you an idea of ​​how long certain steps will take.

Things took a little longer for me because I already had Nest Wifi and Google Wifi routers on my network. I foolishly thought I could just unplug them and plug in the new Nest Wifi Pros instead. However, Google Home requires you to factory reset these older devices before you can continue with the new setup.

Between unplugging old devices, starting setup, plugging them all back in, resetting and unplugging Again, I ended up more than doubling my installation time. If you just follow the instructions in the Google Home app, unlike me, you’ll get there pretty quickly.

One area of ​​configuration I’d like Google to improve on is how it gives feedback on the placement of each Nest Wifi Pro. The only guidelines given by the app are to place each subsequent router no more than two rooms away and a warning that pops up if they are too far apart.

I know my house needs at least two units, due to its odd hallway shape, but I wonder if I can get away with just two instead of three. The only real way to find out is to experiment, move the Nest Wifi Pros around, and use “Test Mesh” in the Google Home app. Some comments like “you could get more global coverage if you wandered off a bit” could be very helpful.

A note on style

For the Nest Wifi Pro, Google continued its vision of technology that blends into the decor of your home. To that end, the router has a glossy, soft-colored exterior that gives it the appearance of ceramic art. Some may prefer the flat, eggshell-like qualities of the 2019 Nest Wifi before it, but I find the new model to be surprisingly charming while still managing to blend into the background.

On the plus side, I think the glossy exterior of the Nest Wifi Pro will be easier to clean than previous devices – speaking of the experience of cleaning an old Nest Wifi. The flip side, however, is that dust particles are much more noticeable on the newer model, which means you may need to clean it a bit more often.

Nest WiFi Pro

You can get the router in four different colors: Snow (white), Linen (cream/tan), Fog (light mint green), and Lemongrass (yellow-green). While fun, the only way to get multiples of a color other than Snow is to buy them individually, sacrificing the bundle discount. The multi-color three-pack we reviewed includes one each of Snow, Linen, and Fog, giving each room its own unique color vibe.

Is Wi-Fi 6E all it’s supposed to be?

The main advantage of the Nest Wifi Pro over previous models is the introduction of Wi-Fi 6E, which is essentially two generations newer than the previous Nest Wifi. Under ideal conditions, the Nest Wifi Pro’s Wi-Fi 6E should be able to handle up to 5.4 gigabits per second to devices in your home.

It’s much faster than even the best internet connections available today and it’s ideal for future-proofing your home network. That extra speed is also useful for working with devices within your home, like hosting a Plex server or streaming a security camera.

Beyond that raw speed potential, the biggest change with the move from the Nest Wifi Pro to Wi-Fi 6E is the introduction of the 6GHz wireless band. Although there are already a decent amount of modern devices that can connect on the 6 GHz band, it is significantly less congested than the other two Wi-Fi bands.

If you only have one Nest Wifi Pro it probably won’t matter much, but when you have two or more things get interesting. The reason Nest Wifi Pro is not compatible with previous generation devices is that it exclusively uses 6 GHz to connect the mesh routers, which means your network shouldn’t experience as much interference from your neighbors.

With the work-from-home era still going strong, many have invested in better and stronger Wi-Fi in recent years. If you live in a crowded area, like an apartment complex, chances are your neighbors’ Wi-Fi is affecting yours. By connecting together on this less congested 6 GHz band, the Nest Wifi Pro system is able to provide better stability for the entire network.

A second Ethernet port to hardwire your less reliable gadgets

In practice, I have found my home network to be much more stable and faster since I replaced my old Nest Wifi setup with Nest Wifi Pro. For example, my wife and I were easily able to simultaneously play through two different cloud streaming services with almost no interruptions.

The Nest Wifi Pro’s Wi-Fi 6E connection should also benefit some of your individual devices. Newer devices with 6GHz connectivity will see fantastic speeds, although they will need to be very close to one of the Nest Wifi Pros to see this impact as 6GHz doesn’t travel as far as 5GHz or 2.4GHz.

For example, while sitting in the room between my two routers, my Pixel 7 Pro chooses to use the 5 GHz signal instead. It could also just be a matter of the phone not “moving” fast enough to the nearest router.

Optimized for family and home office

With companies continuing to offer remote work opportunities, maintaining a stable internet connection throughout your home is almost vital so that work can be done anywhere. Like any other mesh Wi-Fi system on the market, having multiple Nest Wifi Pro units ensures that your phone, laptop and more all have a strong, reliable signal.

Where Google’s system stands out – aside from the sheer simplicity of it all – is in how you can optimize your network to get the job done. In the Google Home app, you’ll find a variety of controls for your network, including a toggle that prioritizes video conferencing apps like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and more. (as well as a toggle for cloud gaming).

Likewise, you can choose a device to “prioritize” for a limited time, ensuring that its traffic isn’t slowed down by other devices on your network. This can be especially useful when working from home while family is also home with you.

Additionally, Nest Wifi Pro (and the entire Google/Nest Wifi ecosystem) has a suite of dedicated “Family Wi-Fi” commands. With it, you can group together all the devices used by children in your home, and from there, Google Home lets you easily block adult websites (as determined by Google SafeSearch) on those devices or even disable completely Internet access at specific times.

Likewise, when you have company, it’s easy to start a guest network for friends and family, keeping your personal devices separate and secure. You can even view guest network connection information on a Nest Hub.

Long term issues

Much like the 2019 edition of Nest Wifi, the Nest Wifi Pro is a fantastic experience right out of the box. Google has done a fantastic job of making a great first impression, there’s no doubt about it.

When done right, Wi-Fi routers are meant to be the kind of technology you set up and hardly think about – give or take management of family devices or guest networks. As such, one would want a premium router like the Nest Wifi Pro to be guaranteed to last for years.

However, between our own experiences with Google Wifi and Nest Wifi devices over the years and numerous reports online, we haven’t found this to be always true for everyone. Some devices work well over the years, while others become temperamental and need to be restarted frequently. Since stable Internet access is more important than ever in the age of working from home, longevity and reliability are key to the design of a Wi-Fi router.

So far, Google hasn’t given any indication that the Nest Wifi Pro’s hardware has noticeably better longevity than previous generations, nor has the last 10 days been long enough for any issues to develop. Nest Wifi Pro makes fantastic improvements across the board, but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it until I see firsthand if it’s built to last.

Is the Nest Wifi Pro worth buying?

With a retail price of $199.99 for a single router, the Nest Wifi Pro is surprisingly one of the most affordable Wi-Fi 6E devices on the market today. With a single unit, assuming you are upgrading from an older network configuration, you will see some get Wi-Fi 6/6E upgrades, but nothing worth writing about.

The real value of Nest Wifi Pro comes in packs of two or three, putting a strong signal wherever you need it in your home with the help of Wi-Fi 6E. The bundles are also exceptionally priced, adding just $100 for each additional unit – $299.99 for two, $399.99 for three.

There’s a strong case to be made that the Nest Wifi Pro is a smart investment in the future for anyone working from home, offering top-notch connectivity at a reasonable price. However, Google’s current track record for Nest Wifi hardware longevity makes it a bit harder to simply recommend at this time.

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