We round up the best Google WiFi alternatives that you can buy in 2017, including the Netgear Orbi, BT Whole Home and more ‘mesh’ WiFi home solutions. What’s the difference and which is best for your own household?
When WiFi first hit our homes, we rejoiced at the thought of no more cables training everywhere. Then we discovered black spots where WiFi failed to reach and for years since people with old stone walled homes, larger properties and cavernous places were forced to live with no internet outside of pre-set areas.
Thankfully we’ve entered the age of ‘mesh WiFi’, where that too is a problem confined to the past.
Google WiFi is one of the simplest and, thanks to that branding, most famous mesh WiFi router offerings right now. But there are plenty of other specialists out there offering mesh WiFi routers for your home, some of which might be better for your personal needs.
Here’s our guide to some of the best alternatives to Google WiFi in 2017. Take a look at our complete Google WiFi guide for more info on Google’s offering, as well as our Google WiFi tips and tricks feature.
To say Google WiFi is the simplest router to set up is fair enough, but the Orbi is right up there too. Like Google’s offering, this uses a smartphone app to take you through setup and configuration. For the £399 price you get a main router and one satellite for boosting the signal about the house. When connecting multiple routers, the ease of setup is a real positive factor.
The Orbi, rather uniquely, offers a 5GHz backhaul channel. In plainer English, that means the routers have their own private channel to communicate on. This leaves your normal WiFi bandwidth completely clear, for you to fill with all those 4K Netflix shows.
Overall the Orbi offers a fast AC3000 speed connection, simple setup and the option to add more satellite boosters to cover any area. And they look nice too, like funky blue vases.
BT Whole Home
The unique selling point of the BT Whole Home mesh Wi-Fi boxes is that they work as a supplement to your current WiFi router. That means you can boost your current signal to distant areas of your home without the need to replace your current setup.
The BT Whole Home comes with three extender units for that £300 asking price – affordable enough, unless you simply wish to add one more unit to your setup. The result is AC2500 speeds for a solid 300Mbps connection all over the home. It’s all easy to setup via BT’s Whole Home smartphone app. One unit is plugged into your router and the rest can be dotted about the house as you need.
All that and it uses a single SSID number, making it super simple for all of your connections.
Take a look at our BT Whole Home WiFi hands-on review for more info.
The Linksys Velop uses a system of WiFi extenders to deliver a complete WiFi setup over any area. Since these are sold in packs of three, two or as singles, you can keep building as you need. However, the initial setup is £499 for a three-pack node system, which puts it at the pricier end of the spectrum.
The result is thankfully a really stable setup. You get triple band Wi-Fi, a dynamic backhaul to ensure maximum speed, plus seamless roaming around your home. Each node can be setup simply with an app, although this takes about five minutes a go, so could be quicker.
While the Linksys Velop can work over very extended ranges, its top speeds in testing appear lower than rivals like the Netgear Orbi. Therefore this is a worthy consideration if you have a very large home and aren’t too demanding (4K streamers and gamers should look elsewhere).
Amplifi HD Home WiFi System
The Amplifi HD Home WiFi System might look more like an attractive thermostat than a router, but offers all the connectivity you could hope and dream of.
This mesh WiFi system offers super simple setup, like many of its rivals. Once the main router is connected you simply plug in the mesh units and they’ll chime and flash to show they’re up and running. With that done, distriute as you see fit.
The main router itself packs a hefty six antennas for up to 20,000 square feet of coverage alone. Thanks to both 2.4GHz and 5GHZ connectivity, performance should be good both at close range as well as further away. There are also plenty of settings and bonus features on offer for the pros out there.
Started a few years ago, Eero was made to offer a WiFi mesh network solution to everyone that’s easy to use. Now, as you may have noticed from reading this feature, lots of others have leaped onto that bandwagon too. As a result, Eero’s lack of MU-MIMO and IPv6 compatibility, not to mention its reliance on WPA2, might seem a wee it antiquated. However, this is still an affordable and simple to use solution.
Eero looks good, has a low-profile design and offers respectale performance throughout your boosted home. Not bad for a $399 asking price, which bags you three routers.
Luma Home WiFi System
The Luma units look pretty badass futuristic and can be bought in a three pack for $399 – or individually for $149. As you’d expect from a modern mesh network system, Luma is easy to setup and configure. It comes with built-in security and content filtering too, so no matter where you are you should be protected while connected.
Some more advanced settings are lacking, but you’ll not struggle to get up and running and can expect good close-proximity connections.