Google Wifi as a replacement for Airport network?

gwerhart0800

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Mar 15, 2008
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I have been using Apple network products for years and years and years, but now it appears that Apple is discontinuing their network devices. My Airport Extreme has become flakey where it seems to turn itself off (no green light) requiring me to unplug it and plug it back in to revive it. (This is the same thing that happened to the last one.) It is just about 2 years old. So, I am now stuck looking for a replacement.

Google has introduced their Google WiFi product that seems to incorporate many of the things I liked about the Airport ecosystem ... simple application on phone to administer the network, attractive appearance, etc. Additionally, they state that the nodes also include 802.15.4 & Bluetooth radios that will be enabled in the future.

I am asking if anyone has tried the Google WiFi as a replacement for their Airport hardware and what their opinions are about it.
 
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Fishrrman

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I've been doing research into the new "mesh" systems myself.

You ought to check Eero, Luma, Amplifi and the Netgear Orbi as well.
Each one has specific features that might be of interest to you.

Most reviews I've read give Orbi the best rating in terms of speed and coverage. Although technically, it's not a true "mesh" system. Orbi also has a full complement of ethernet ports on the satellites as well as on the base unit.

My current (older, flat model) Airport Extreme is working ok here (1500sq.ft. 2-story), but I'm thinking of replacing it anyway.
Going to give myself about 4-6 months to see how the "mesh market" sorts itself out.
I sense that with competition, prices may begin to creep downward.
 

gwerhart0800

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Original poster
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I've been doing research into the new "mesh" systems myself.

You ought to check Eero, Luma, Amplifi and the Netgear Orbi as well.
Each one has specific features that might be of interest to you.
Thanks for the other possible candidates. My research shows:

Eero - “TrueMesh” network topology - $499 for a 3 pack, $199 for a single unit.
Luma - mesh network topology - $299 for a 3 pack, $149 for a single.
AmpliFi - mesh network topology - $199 to $349 for a base station and 2 “super mesh” points, $149 for just the base station.
Orbi - mesh network topology MU-MIMO - router + 2 satellites only seems to be available from CostCo, not a member, so I could not get a price. Router only $249 (Amazon Prime) Satellite (Pre-order) $249 (Amazon Prime), Amazon also lists a two pack (router and one Satellite for $379.99)
Google Wifi - mesh network topology - 3 pack $299 (Google store back order), single pack $129 (Google Store)

I did find a few comparisons:

Google WiFi/Orbi/Eero: http://www.businessinsider.com/google-wifi-vs-eero-vs-orbi-mesh-wifi-showdown-2016-12

They picked Google WiFi mainly for price … Google WiFi performance on the satellites was the slowest of all three systems.

Eero, Luma, AmpliFi, Orbi systems tested, plus a Archer C7 standard router: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-wi-fi-mesh-networking-kits/

Chose Orbi 2 node version, this is an extensive review with a detail methodology.

eero, Orbi, AmpliFi: https://www.macobserver.com/tips/deep-dive/wi-fi-mesh-compared-eero-orbi-amplifi/

Picked Eero with Orbi as close second.

After reading the reviews, I think I will try to hold off a bit (assuming my Extreme cooperates), there are apparently some additional players coming in the near future and that may drive prices down. If I had to guess (and I am guessing here), Apple seems to have decided that they did not want to spend the engineering $$$ on keeping pace with this market and wants to concentrate on other things.
 
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Fishrrman

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It's worth noting that for most homes (up to 4,000sq.ft.) the Orbi (wtih only 2 units) seems to do as well or better than Eero or Luma or Amplifi (with 3 units).

I don't need parental controls and I don't own any iOS or Android phones or tablets, so I'll probably go with the Orbi (which is the only one of these that lets you set it up and fully control it from a computer, rather than a SmartPhone).

Also, be aware that the Eero and Luma need an internet connection to run. That means if for any reason you lose your ISP connection, you lose your entire in-home network, as well.

The Orbi can keep your home network "up", even if the ISP is down.
 

Nick11Mac

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Jan 20, 2011
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Great thread, appreciate all the information and links. Have been researching this too as my 2700 foot home has been operating on a single Airport Express (first generation) for years. There are times where we've lost or had intermittent service. It hasn't been often enough to have me do anything about it up till now though.

However, i'll be looking into what's been mentioned above now. The Google setup is appealing despite the comparative speed performance. No rush so i'll keep trying to find out what I can.
 

Fishrrman

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From reading just-released reviews of Google wifi, it appears that if you use this you are connected to Google -continuously-, or the system won't work.

Just not interested in that, myself. They say that the user's privacy will be protected, but hey.... it's Google. Be governed accordingly.
 

Nick11Mac

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From reading just-released reviews of Google wifi, it appears that if you use this you are connected to Google -continuously-, or the system won't work.

Just not interested in that, myself. They say that the user's privacy will be protected, but hey.... it's Google. Be governed accordingly.

Same here. Just read some more on that. I wouldn't want that either.
 
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SnowLucas

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I'm confused about these "Mesh" networking products. Are they actually doing anything special or are they just doing what many older routers can do? For example the Airport Extreme can connect to each other wirelessly and extend WIFI creating a kind of mesh network. Are these devices from Ero, Google and the rest doing something different?

I've always tried to avoid using WIFI between access points and have managed to keep to a wired connection between multiple Airports with great success, roaming around large properties pretty seamlessly. I do foresee a time where wires will not be an option though (in a new property) so I'm interested in what they are actually offering.
 

Weaselboy

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I'm confused about these "Mesh" networking products. Are they actually doing anything special or are they just doing what many older routers can do? For example the Airport Extreme can connect to each other wirelessly and extend WIFI creating a kind of mesh network. Are these devices from Ero, Google and the rest doing something different?

I've always tried to avoid using WIFI between access points and have managed to keep to a wired connection between multiple Airports with great success, roaming around large properties pretty seamlessly. I do foresee a time where wires will not be an option though (in a new property) so I'm interested in what they are actually offering.
https://blog.eero.com/save-yourself...enders-just-dont-work-e778e0e333a3#.fbwrlj5mp

Pretty decent article by Eero here that explains it. Essentially the old method is sort of a hub and spoke affair where your main router is the central hub and any extenders talk back only to that one router (the hub). With mesh the devices all talk to each other along the way so you can extend further wirelessly while keeping full speeds.

The big difference in the hardware is a mesh device has two radios allowing this two way communication.
 
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steve23094

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Apr 23, 2013
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https://blog.eero.com/save-yourself...enders-just-dont-work-e778e0e333a3#.fbwrlj5mp

Pretty decent article by Eero here that explains it. Essentially the old method is sort of a hub and spoke affair where your main router is the central hub and any extenders talk back only to that one router (the hub). With mesh the devices all talk to each other along the way so you can extend further wirelessly while keeping full speeds.

The big difference in the hardware is a mesh device has two radios allowing this two way communication.
Depending on how the backhaul channel is handled mesh can be slower. Some manufacturers share client and backhaul bandwidth and also include a slower radio. Mesh is the latest buzz word which I suspect has been pushed by manufacturers to entice you to purchase brand new WiFi equipment. Depending on your requirements mesh may not be better for your application.
 

SnowLucas

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Feb 19, 2015
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https://blog.eero.com/save-yourself...enders-just-dont-work-e778e0e333a3#.fbwrlj5mp

Pretty decent article by Eero here that explains it. Essentially the old method is sort of a hub and spoke affair where your main router is the central hub and any extenders talk back only to that one router (the hub). With mesh the devices all talk to each other along the way so you can extend further wirelessly while keeping full speeds.

The big difference in the hardware is a mesh device has two radios allowing this two way communication.
I haven't tried it but I feel like 3 Airport Extremes from 2013 could do exactly what they are saying "Mesh" routers can do now. Airport extremes can relay over 5ghz
Depending on how the backhaul channel is handled mesh can be slower. Some manufacturers share client and backhaul bandwidth and also include a slower radio. Mesh is the latest buzz word which I suspect has been pushed by manufacturers to entice you to purchase brand new WiFi equipment. Depending on your requirements mesh may not be better for your application.
This is the feeling I'm getting from these products. A lot of the things mentioned in that blog for example might be true of your average range extender but they are not true of many devices that have been around for years without calling themselves "Mesh" devices. They talk of multiple radios but I'm pretty sure multiple radios is not a new thing, I'm not expert but I believe an Apple Airport Extreme can use the 5ghz radio to connect to other extremes using 802.11ac for the connection while having the 802.11n for devices to connect to. It does appear that some of these devices have three radios with one dedicated to the "Mesh" so that obviously could be an advantage.

WIFI seems to be an industry full of marketing double speak.
 

Weaselboy

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I haven't tried it but I feel like 3 Airport Extremes from 2013 could do exactly what they are saying "Mesh" routers can do now. Airport extremes can relay over 5ghz
No, it is a different setup altogether. If you have three Airport Extremes (AE)... let's call them AE1 through AE3. If AE1 is connected to the modem, then AE2 and AE3 connect back to only AE1 and if they get beyond the range of AE1, they can no longer connect.

With mesh, call it M1 through M3. M1 connects to the modem, then M2 connects to M1, then M3 can connect to both M1 or M2. Then add in M4. M4 can connect to M1, M2, M3 and vice versa. If you had a huge house you can see how adding six or eight of these things all over the house with them talking back and forth to one another may be beneficial.
[doublepost=1481294635][/doublepost]
A lot of the things mentioned in that blog for example might be true of your average range extender but they are not true of many devices that have been around for years without calling themselves "Mesh" devices.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11s

It is different as I explained above. MESH is actually a new wifi standard 802.11s. Older devices do not have the hardware to do MESH.
 

gwerhart0800

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http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016...e-wifi-to-other-mesh-networking-heavyweights/

I ran across this comparo today that might also help you decide.
This review includes the following in the "ugly" part for Google:
  • Remember Revolv? This is something of an experiment for Google, and the company has a history of abandoning its less-loved projects "whenever."
I also wonder about the other vendors, as most of them are startups, so they could go away. Right now the Orbi is from an established vendor, so in my opinion, it gets a ++ for that.
 

Weaselboy

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This review includes the following in the "ugly" part for Google:
  • Remember Revolv? This is something of an experiment for Google, and the company has a history of abandoning its less-loved projects "whenever."
I also wonder about the other vendors, as most of them are startups, so they could go away. Right now the Orbi is from an established vendor, so in my opinion, it gets a ++ for that.
I agree the whole thing is pretty new and you are right to be concerned about some of these companies.
 
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Fishrrman

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Weaselboy wrote:
"I agree the whole thing is pretty new and you are right to be concerned about some of these companies."

I sense that the market will start "sorting itself out" within 6 months or so.
We'll see prices come down as competition heats up.

I'll take a -guess- that Eero will be around for a while, having been one of the pioneers in this tech for the home. So far, they have good market penetration.

Luma (right now) seems to be an "also-ran" coming in the footsteps of Eero. They have their work cut out for them to get out from underneath Eero's shadow.

Google is.... well.... Google. The company will be around, but the product? Remains to be seen. And of course there's the "privacy" aspect of using their stuff.

Plume ... to little known about it yet, and (like Amplifi) it has a strange connection scheme (plugs directly into power outlets). Also requires more satellites than the others. Right now, only works with iOS (supposed Android version of the setup software is coming). This one seems a little weird to me.

Eero, Luma and Google (perhaps Plume as well) require a live internet connection AND a connection "back home to" the parent company to work. If the company disappears, so does its product. Google won't "disappear", but do you -really- want them hard-wired to your personal home network 24/7?

Amplifi (by Ubiquiti) seems to have a very good router/base, but I was turned off by the design of the satellites. What about older homes (like mine) with relatively few electrical outlets, especially almost no 3-pronged (grounded) receptacles? A non-starter for me. Also, the satellites have no capacity for ethernet connection.

Orbi by Netgear is probably here to stay. I don't see the company going away, and the Orbi is well-designed with additional improvements coming with each firmware upgrade. Also, Orbi can be set up and maintained via a regular browser and doesn't need an internet connection to stay "up". If for any reason your iSP is down, you home LAN remains up-and-running. (Same for Amplifi as well, I believe).

I don't really -need- one of these, but when Orbi prices get down under $300, I may get one anyway...
 

xraydoc

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Oct 9, 2005
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So I have a long, narrow home with many brick walls. It's a wifi nightmare. I currently have two AirPort Extreme (AC) units which are doing a just barely adequate job (each with the same SSID but connected to ethernet - not each other), but centrally in the house the wifi speeds are actually quite bad as the devices bounce between one basestation and the other.

I can't really add a third without having it extend via wifi itself - while I've got ethernet at the two far ends of the house, I don't have access to it in the middle due to the way the house is wired (built in late '50s).

I ordered a 3-pack Google Wifi, so when it comes I'll report back. I think it's supposed to ship in another week or so. Really hoping its mesh technology works better than typical wifi extenders which tend to cut speeds in half.
 
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steve23094

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Orbi by Netgear is probably here to stay. I don't see the company going away, and the Orbi is well-designed with additional improvements coming with each firmware upgrade. Also, Orbi can be set up and maintained via a regular browser and doesn't need an internet connection to stay "up". If for any reason your iSP is down, you home LAN remains up-and-running. (Same for Amplifi as well, I believe).

I don't really -need- one of these, but when Orbi prices get down under $300, I may get one anyway...
Orbi isn't a mesh system though, in fact it uses a standard star topology. The difference in comparison to a standard wireless repeater is that the Orbi uses a dedicated backhaul channel to communicate back to the hub. But in the speed stakes it kicks butt.

http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/33028-netgear-orbi-reviewed

Needing a live connection back to the manufacturer totally sucks (Orbi doesn't). This gear is not cheap and there is no way I would commit to the investment with the very real possibility they could all become expensive paper weights in a couple of years. I would hope they will roll out firmware updates in the future to obviate this dial home.
 
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Nick11Mac

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Orbi isn't a mesh system though, in fact it uses a standard star topology. The difference in comparison to a standard wireless repeater is that the Orbi uses a dedicated backhaul channel to communicate back to the hub. But in the speed stakes it kicks butt.

http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/33028-netgear-orbi-reviewed

Needing a live connection back to the manufacturer totally sucks (Orbi doesn't). This gear is not cheap and there is no way I would commit to the investment with the very real possibility they could all become expensive paper weights in a couple of years. I would hope they will roll out firmware updates in the future to obviate this dial home.

Thanks for the article link. It provides some really good information.
 

garyleecn

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Jul 25, 2014
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I don't think those are using mesh, at least from what I can tell reading the specs there. It looks like each AP is hard wired back to the hub.
I'm really confused about this 'mesh' idea. what is a 'mesh' network anyway? I have multiple AirPort Extreme/TC connected to a central switch via ethernet, then to internet, and they are broadcasting same SSID/password, so all my devices switch between 3 AE automatically based on location. is this a 'mesh' network? or what's the difference between this and a mesh network?



for everyone else, just be aware, erro, luma, and google wifi are all 2*2 devices. meaning they are capable of transmitting at a maximum speed of 867mbps. however AirPort Extreme/TC, and orbi are 3*3 device, if your client support, they have a maximum speed of 1300mbps, 50% higher then 2*2.

all Macs except MacBook Air and new MacBook are 3*3 devices, just remember that.
I've had a very consistent ~800-900mbps between my MacBook Pro, iMac and my TC, which exceeds erro, luma and google wifi's theoretical maximum.
 

Weaselboy

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I'm really confused about this 'mesh' idea. what is a 'mesh' network anyway? I have multiple AirPort Extreme/TC connected to a central switch via ethernet, then to internet, and they are broadcasting same SSID/password, so all my devices switch between 3 AE automatically based on location. is this a 'mesh' network? or what's the difference between this and a mesh network?
See my post #14 above.

Essentially, in your example, with MESH your AE2 and AE3 could talk to one another and extend one another rather than only being able to talk back to the host AE1.
 
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