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Google OnHub: Why Google’s first router is the key to smart home 2.0

A new router is not exactly something to get excited about. Dig deeper though and you’ll find there’s a lot more going on with Google’s OnHub

Last month, Google unveiled the OnHub, a stylish high-end Wi-Fi router with more than a few neat tricks up its sleeve and ambitions to sit at the heart of the modern smart home.

Indeed, while the TP-LINK-made OnHub is an impressive (if somewhat expensive at $199/£130) Wi-Fi router as things stand, its full capabilities are yet to be unlocked.

Here are some of the key ways in which the Google OnHub is a big deal for the smart home.

Designed to be the centre of attention

Google wants you to put the OnHub at the centre of your smart home, both functionally and physically. On that latter point, the Google OnHub is a seriously stylish bit of kit that’s a world away from the ugly blinking boxes we’ve all grown accustomed to.

Its sleek yet sober cylindrical design is intended to be placed at the heart of your home, radiating Wi-Fi connectivity to all corners equally.

Going back to those blinking lights – there are none to be found here. Just a single, subtle, multi-function, dimmable notification ring which can output in four colours.

While existing routers are designed to be shoved behind desks and in living room cabinets, then, the OnHub is something that you probably won’t be ashamed to display prominently on a sideboard or shelf. That’s the idea, anyway.

Related: Best router 2015: 5 Best Wi-Fi Routers

It’s all about the Wi-Fi

As that unadorned cylindrical design suggests, the Google OnHub is very Wi-Fi focused. In fact, it only has a single ethernet port – a pitiful number when compared to even the most basic free network offering these days.

Google has largely eschewed physical connectivity because the OnHub’s wireless connectivity is a step above anything else in this price range. The OnHub has 13 internal antennas, 12 of which are split evenly between the main 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies that make up modern Wi-Fi.

The remaining antenna is dedicated to finding and fine tuning those signals, ensuring you’re always on the strongest connection possible.

Early reports suggest that this abundance of antennas has paid off, with far-reaching connectivity that removes blackspots and negates the need for signal boosters.

Google OnHub

Working smarter

The Google OnHub is controlled entirely through the dedicated Google On app, which is available for both Android and iOS. This grants far more power, flexibility, and intuitiveness than your typical Wi-Fi router.

For example, the app enables you to prioritise specific devices so that they get the bulk of your bandwidth – perfect for when you want to stream 4K video or kick off an online gaming session.

You can also use the On app to show which devices are connected to the OnHub and how much bandwidth they’re using, to run speed tests, easily share the password with friends, and even reboot the hub itself.

Aside from the On app, the OnHub keeps itself up to date with latest security upgrades automatically and without interrupting your connection.

Ready for the (US) smart home

It seems as if the full mainstream realisation of the smart home ideal is perpetually, tantalisingly, just around the corner. Whenever that point comes, however, the Google OnHub will be ready to facilitate it.

It’s all ready to accept smart devices that utilise the Bluetooth Smart Ready, Weave, and 802.15.4 standards.

There’s no news on when the Google OnHub will be making its way over to the UK, however. At the time of writing, it’s only available in the US and Canada.

That’ll no doubt change in the not too distant future, but in the meantime there’s no reason an imported OnHub wouldn’t work here.

Are you intrigued by Google’s OnHub router? Let us know in the comments section below.

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