Google OnHub: The Ultimate WiFi Router?
Google entered the WiFi router market in August 2015, with a mind-boggling product called “OnHub.” It doesn’t look anything like a traditional router, and it doesn't act like one either. And that's a good thing! Read on to learn more about this router, and why you're going to want one...
What is OnHub?
OnHub does not behave the way people expect a router to behave, either. It’s actually consumer-friendly! Built by Google hardware partner, TP-Link, OnHub is easy to set up, highly reliable, and maintenance-free. It’s also packed with features that many of us have long desired. (It also looks remarkably like Amazon’s Echo tabletop personal assistant. More on that later...)
For example, OnHub’s built-in network monitor shows you all devices on your WiFi network and how much bandwidth each device is using – in real time, on your Android-powered mobile device! The OnHub app provides tap-button control over bandwidth prioritization. That means Junior’s gaming won’t make Mom and Dad’s Netflix movie all jittery, or vice versa if it’s the kids’ turn to hog the Internet.
OnHub has 13 internal antennas (that is not a typo) configured in concentric rings, to deliver maximum signal coverage consistently over wider areas. During setup, for which the Android app is required, OnHub automatically scans all available channels and selects the best overall signal on either 2.5 GHz or 5.0 GHz radio frequency bands. Supported protocols include 802.11 a/b/g/n on 2.5 bands; 802.11 a/n/ac on 5.0 GHz; an auxiliary 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac radio. There’s a 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet port and switch.
WiFi connections are secured with WPA2-PSK encryption. Another cool feature of the OnHub app is easy password-sharing. If you want to let someone share your WiFi, just tap on his/her device displayed in the app and the device gets your network’s password until you revoke that privilege. There’s no need for the guest to know your password, and no need to change every “resident” device’s password after the guest leaves.
Configuring and managing a WiFi network via a wireless Android app is inherently less secure than the traditional requirement for a hardwire Ethernet connection to the administrator’s console built into a router. But Apple’s Airport Express routers have used an iOS app in the same way without major problems. Speaking of Airport Express, its $200 price tag is identical to OnHub’s. The Airport is also tall to accommodate multiple antennas; but with its flat sides and rounded corners it looks like a piece of Tupperware for keeping saltine crackers fresh. The OnHub is definitely more stylish.
No More Blinking Lights
Instead of tiny blinking lights, OnHub displays its status with six tri-color LED arrays arranged in rings around the chassis. Your router’s status is clearly viewable from any angle. An ambient light sensor keeps the LEDs from shining too brightly or being washed out in sunlight. You can also view the status of the OnHub, and manage the connected devices via an app for your mobile phone.
OnHub won’t become obsolete in 3-5 years, as many older routers have. In fact, it already has future protocols built into it, including proposed home-automation protocols Bluetooth Smart, Google Brillo/Weave, and IEEE 802.15.4. OnHub has 4 GB of internal flash memory, ample room for future upgrades and new features. Of course, OnHub automatically receives software updates from Google, just as the Chrome browser does. You don’t have to worry about doing manual firmware updates.
There’s a bit of mystery surrounding two details of OnHub. Google isn’t saying what the USB port is for, or what you might hear from the 3-watt speaker mounted atop the OnHub. My guess is that OnHub’s resemblance to Amazon’s Echo is no accident; you’re going to talk to OnHub and it will talk back, someday soon.
One thing I've worried about when considering a replacement for my router is whether it will work with my Verizon FIOS service. But the OnHub website promises that "It works with cable, DSL, Fiber, and all major Internet service providers."
The only bad thing about OnHub is that you can’t get one today. But at the top-right corner of every OnHub Website page is a “pre-order” button that you can click to get in line. Google says OnHub will be shipping “in coming weeks.”
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 25 Aug 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Google OnHub: The Ultimate WiFi Router? (Posted: 25 Aug 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved