A simplified hardware lineup makes it easier to expand your network
If networking your home doesn’t mean much more to you than unboxing the router your ISP sent over by default, chances are you’re missing out on a lot. There are plenty of great Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers to choose from, but if you’re looking for a solution from Google, your best option for a while now has been the Nest Wifi system that arrived alongside the Pixel 4 back in 2019. We’ve been hearing rumors about new hardware all summer, and today that finally goes official, as Google reveals the Nest Wifi Pro.
The big news this year is Wi-Fi 6E compatibility. That adds to your existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks a new 6GHz band, promising less congestion and increased ability to handle a whole household full of smart home gear (Google almost dares you to push the limit with claims of supporting 300 active devices).
Like previous generations, the Nest Wifi Pro is a mesh system, allowing you to extend the range and quality of your network by adding additional routers. Unlike the non-Pro Nest Wifi, this time around there’s no distinction between the base router and the add-on points; when you want to grow your network, you just add more of the same hardware. While that does simplify things, it also threatens to get a little pricey: a single Nest Wifi Pro costs about $200, and although bundle savings immediately kick in, you’ll still pay $300 for a two-pack, or $400 for three routers.
The hardware itself is undergoing some major changes this year. The routers pick up a high-gloss finish, emphasizing Google’s desire for you to set these somewhere out in the open, where you can show them off (while enhancing their signal strength). There’s also a choice of four colors this time around: Snow, Linen, Fog, and Lemongrass. Each router features two gigabit Ethernet ports and can act as a Thread border router — look for a future upgrade to turn it into a Matter hub, too.
Unfortunately for those of you who were fans of Nest Wifi points being able to act like Nest Minis, playing music through their speakers and supporting Assistant voice commands, there’s no similar functionality here with the Nest Wifi Pro — apparently people liked having their speakers and routers in different places. But while we’re sad to see that go, we are looking forward to the newly revamped Home app, where you’ll be able to control and configure your network. Features like easy guest network setup, self-diagnostics, and family controls for parents wanting to limit access all make a return.
All in all, the Nest Wifi Pro sounds like a reasonable upgrade, but the cost of the entry is higher this time around, and we’ve got bad news for users looking to integrate it with an existing Google system. Unlike how Nest Wifi could operate on the same network as the older Google Wifi, this year’s Pro model does not play nicely with others — supposedly a consequence of the move to 6E. Will improved speeds and network quality make up for that annoyance? Look forward to our full review soon.