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Pros: +Easy, Easy, Easy - Hands down the easiest router setup I've experienced. Download the smartphone app, plug in the router, follow a few basic app instructions.
+Aesthetically Awesome - This router resembles a sort of futuristic fine art. At a glance it could be a vase or a piece of pottery. The device attempts to become a visual part of the home by representing a piece of neutral decor as apposed to intruding into it with a style that clashes with everything.
+Incredibly well built - The base is solid metal, giving it a sturdy presence wherever it is placed. Often the mere weight of cables will cause a router to tilt off its base; this router does not have that problem at all.
+Hidden Ports - The router is encased in a removable shroud. Removing this shroud reveals its ports (power, 1xUSB, 1xWAN, 1xLAN). Plug in your cables and replace the shroud and you now have a neat and clean router with just a hint of cables coming out from under the shroud in the back.
+Incredibly well ventilated - Removing the shroud will reveal the fact that the entire router doubles as a passive radiator. Not visible from the outside is perhaps the largest heatsink I have seen in a router which essentially fills the entire body. In a clever move by TP-Link the heatsink doubles as a reflector for the front facing 2.4Ghz antenna.
+Wonderful radio coverage - The router really does have 13 individual WiFi antennas. The most powerful is a 7dBi 2.4Ghz front facing reflected antenna, that I mentioned before. Another is a dual band antenna which resides between the speaker and its grill. The other 11 are a mix of 5ghz and 2.4ghz single band antennas that form a ring around the top of the router providing signal in all directions. There is also a single ZigBee/Thread antenna and Bluetooth has an antenna built into the main board. My other router is a Linksys WRT1900AC, which is pretty serious business in terms of its radio coverage and bandwidth capabilities. In all honesty I can't functionally tell a difference between the two routers' reception and bandwidth. If I take a signal reading around the perimeter of my property the Linksys wins, but in the ways that I actually use my network they're essentially the same. My main PC, the only one where bandwidth matters much to me, connects with both routers at a reliable 866mbps.
+Google DNS servers - These can be configured for use on any router, but it's nice that they are configured on this one by default. You can also select your ISP DNS, or custom.
+Even the box it comes in is awesome - Just a little larger than the router itself, so not overly large, the box is housed within a card-stock shroud. Removing the shroud will reveal a square instruction card sitting on top of the box which details what the 4 LED light colors indicate. The top of the box itself opens on a hinge and is actually held closed by two magnets encased within the box sides. The inside of the box lid points at you when it's opened and has basic instructions printed inside. The entire experience of opening the packaging not only excels in being simple and convenient but also gives the distinct impression of luxury and quality.
Cons: -Filled with currently unused features - It would be really clever and convenient to have this router double as a Bluetooth speaker. And why not? It has a speaker AND Bluetooth built-in. Currently the speaker is used only during setup and the Bluetooth chip does not seem to be currently utilized for anything. It would also be really nice to control Thread/ZigBee home automation systems via your home WiFi network. And why not? This 'OnHub' device includes the necessary chip sets to do exactly that. Unfortunately those features are also not currently utilized. EVEN THE USB PORT is not currently functional for network storage. USB storage through a router has been so standardized in high end home networking that it's difficult to even call it a feature, and yet that basic INCLUDED piece of hardware does not currently do its job. This is LOTS of potential currently going to waste.
-VERY limited customization - Advanced options are limited to Static IP, Port forwarding, and UPnP. That's not just a summary. That's the entire list. Nothing else. No MAC Cloning, no VLAN, no ability to change the subnet address, no wifi channel or encryption type selection, etc, etc, etc... If you need to fine tune your network configuration then give this one a pass.
-192.168.86.1 - Nearly every router uses 192.168.1.1 as its local address and I have my entire network set up with that address for the default gateway. The fact that this router uses a different address required me to go through and change all of the static IP addresses on every device on the network and update their gateway addresses. This was most annoying for my NAS, which can only be accessed via web interface using the IP address...I had to switch back to my older router just so I could connect to it and re-enable DHCP so it would see the new network. Also annoying was the fact that several pieces of software on my home network (media software on a couple HTPC's, network backup software, etc..) were configured to use, you guessed it, the previous static network addresses and must now all be changed. I still have several pieces of software complaining about missing network locations... In almost every router the local address can be changed so none of this would be a problem. This one cannot. I've also experienced issues trying to configure static IP addresses on devices. It seems the only way that this router is satisfied is if it controls everything via DHCP. You can set static IP address for devices THROUGH THE ROUTER, but it doesn't seem to like it if you try doing it any other way.
-Only 1 LAN port - My old router that this OnHub is currently replacing includes the typical 4 LAN ports which is precisely what I use. My home theater PC uses one, the game console uses one, and I have a NAS which uses two. With this router only providing one port I had to add a 5 port gigabit Ethernet switch to the mix which somewhat negates the clean/organized approach of the OnHub. Granted it wouldn't be practical to try to cram that many Ethernet cables through the small gap in the back of the OnHub, but they could have designed it to allow for that.
-Awkward Power Brick - This is one of those designs where the power brick itself, as apposed to a separate cable, plugs directly into the AC outlet. For many power strips, and particularly UPS's, this results in the brick monopolizing multiple outlets around it and generally just looking cluttery. This is a surprising lack of detail for a device that is otherwise so physically well thought out.
Overall Review: Even though the 2.4Ghz signal is transmitted in all directions, there is the fact that the strongest 2.4Ghz antenna is on the front, this makes the 2.4Ghz band somewhat directional. This could be a 'pro' or a 'con' depending on your layout. 5Ghz, on the other hand, seems to broadcast equally in all directions.
This router is extremely 'hands off'. This is another one of those things that could be a 'pro' or a 'con' depending on your needs. While I struggle to imagine a router that is easier to set up and use, there is very little that can be modified in terms of advanced options.
Overall, this device fills me with mixed emotions.
I am blown away with its design elegance, build quality, and ease of use. I also give it high marks for reliability and WiFi signal integrity. Those elements make it a solid wireless router but there are plenty of those on the market already. Nearly all of the competing high end wireless routers include functional USB NAS support AND more than one LAN port. This router COULD distinguish itself from those by offering features that none of them have access to (speaker, Bluetooth, Thread/ZigBee), but it currently does not. That leaves me disappointed...and hopeful...and disappointed...and I hope to use these features someday but for now I just have an expensive, albeit reliable and good looking, wireless access point.
If you buy this router now, you will get a reliable, good looking, super-easy-to-use, high performing router. And that's not bad, but the device is priced for features that are not currently functioning. Maybe someday they will be enabled, maybe they won't. Maybe when they're enabled they will work great, maybe they won't. It's a bit of a gamble at the moment and there's little information out there about what we should expect.
If all features were currently enabled and functioned well I would give this 5 eggs. If those features are never enabled then it deserves 3, maybe even 2. Because I TRUST that those features will be enabled soon I give it 4. Don't let me down, Google.
Pros: The Google On Hub sporting hardware from TP link is a an interesting product in its own right. In comparison to the many routers I have owned over the years the On Hub has an elegance to it, with no flashing lights, a bit of cable management, and a relatively simple setup process.
The setup process was strait forward. The item is plugged in using the included flat Ethernet cable (thicker ones would have trouble fitting under the cover). Then you have to download the app on your phone and run the setup. In my case the app downloaded an update for the router and after finishing the update it was stuck in a new "checking for update" loop. I closed the app (swiped up on iOS) and then reopened it to perform the rest of the setup.
Cons: This is where my negatives begin. Unlike all of the routers I've owned there is ZERO control of the routers setting outside of choosing an SSID and password. You cannot choose the channels, 2.4 or 5GHz only modes, etc. I understand that Googles philosophy is it should "just work" and the average customer is not smart enough to adjust the settings optimally, but there should at least be a hidden "advanced" tab for us enthusiasts.
Speaking of the many impressive features that the On Hub boasts on the outside of the box (which I will not repeat). Nowhere on the packaging does it say that you must give google permission to control your router for all the features to work. Instead during setup you are told "not all functions will be active unless you let google cache/control the router". To find out exactly what that means you have to read lengthy documentation on the On Hubs webpage...which goes something like this:
You must have a google account to setup your router. Your identity is tied to your router. Google says that they don't associate your web traffic with your personal identity but doesn't that go against EVERYTHING google does with their analytics? In the age of political races being hacked and the USA’s PRISM program I am not comfortable that giving away personal information to make a $200-$300 dollar router work.
Second, if you ever close your google account your router will remotely reset itself without warning, which means you are tied to using google products for the lifetime of the On Hub. If google were to go out of business, like companies sometimes do, this doesn’t bode well for extended support for this product
Third, all of the optimized wifi band selection, the network speed optimization, etc is all done on googles's servers, not on the On Hub itself. Although you have the option of not allowing these features (and thus Google to collect your personal data), you are effectively handicapping your expensive router. Essentially you've just payed google to harvest your information so they can either sell it or extend their business interests in the future.
Overall Review: So who is this product for?
If you want an elegant router which “just works” and have no qualms about giving away your privacy:
Then this router is for you. I have had no connection disconnects and often get a reminded via my phone that the internet going into the router has stopped working because of hiccups with the ISP. Just remember the quote from Franklin in 1755 “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”.
If you are a wireless enthusiast like myself who likes to turn all the nobs and dials to optimize yoru router for your use case:
No this router is not for you. I would recommend ANY top end Asus router for this purpose
As for me. I am left wondering if the Google on Hub was a collaboration between TP-LINK and Google, what exactly has TP-LINK included in the development in the product beyond providing the copper and microprocessors to run the device. I am frankly not comfortable with the mass data gathering necessary just to get my home wireless running.
Pros: 2-21-2016 UPDATE:
The OnHub has gone through several firmware updates and now has the capabilities to nickname devices on your network. The other gigantic update... GUEST NETWORK!!!
First impressions (before powering up and setting up):<br>Good looking, I like the design. It passed the wife’s test: says that our previous router, the TP-LINK Archer C8 looked like a white grasshopper (with it’s three antennas on top, spread at different angles); while the OnHub looks like it should be right where it is, on our desk in our home office.<br><br>Powering up and setting up:<br>Very easy setup! If it wasn’t UNDER five minutes, it was dang close to five. Download the app, “Google On” from the Play Store. Plug in all of your cables. Wait for the ring to pulse. Open the app. Follow the instructions… it’s that simple.<br><br>Use:<br>You still get advanced settings through the Google On app used to administrate the OnHub… Advanced Networking includes: DNS (was set to Automatic… Googles DNS servers), WAN (DHCP, Static IP, PPPoE), Extended Settings (in Advanced Networking) gets your Stat IP addresses, Port forwarding, and UPnP.<br><br>It’s very cool that you can see what devices are connected to your OnHub network (in the Google On app) AND how much bandwidth they are utilizing.
Cons: None of these are super deal-breakers, more like hyper-critical nit-picks:<br><br>First impressions (before powering up and setting up):<br>Only one LAN port… I got around this by adding a 5 port gigabit switch in our home office (Brother all-in-one needs a wired connection, so does our office workstation = 2 ports). It’s not so bad, because there’s a work-around, but after spending $200 on a wireless router, you’ve got to spend another $30 to fix the one LAN port issue.<br><br>Powering up and setting up:<br>Had to re-arrange plugs on my power strip...the provided power adapter is a little “wide”.<br><br>Only indicator(s) are the “mood” ring on the top of the router.<br><br>Use:<br>I can’t help but notice that it will not give me traffic statistics for my wired clients. All of their information shows up… Device Name, Status (Connected to OnHub), IP Address, and MAC address… all the while Download and Upload activity are “Unknown”.<br><br>Overnight, after setting up the OnHub… it changed wifi channels: now using ch. 11 for 2.4Ghz and ch. 39 for 5Ghz. I know it does this based on all of the other wifi networks in your neighborhood… but now my signal strengths have dropped an average of 10dB on both bands. It’d be best if it gave the user a choice… let Google do everything… or let me choose what channels I want to use. Heck, I’d even let Google suggest channels… just give me the dang choice!<br><br>Other:<br>I haven’t found a way to give my devices custom nicknames… so my wife’s iPad shows up as “iPad”... luckily we only have one of those, but we both have Galaxy S5s… and they both show up as “Android device”. It’d be nice to call our Blu Ray player “Living Room Blu Ray” instead of just “Panasonic” as it currently appears. (This was the same case with the D-Link DGL-5500… among all of its other shortcomings).<br><br>The OnHub can ONLY be administered from the Google On app… if you navigate to the router gateway… it brings up a page that says “Welcome. Download the Google On app to get started. If you already have the app, open it to access network settings and find help.” Further down the page is another message: “OnHub Status: Online OnHub is online. Open the Google On app to access more information.” I guess the web UI either a. isn’t coming at all in future firmware updates, USE THE DANG APP! b. Might be coming later in a firmware update, but USE THE DANG APP! or c. Probably coming later in a firmware update. Trust me, I like the app… but it’d be nice to get a web UI too, but I guess that might be too advanced a maneuver for the folks looking to purchase an OnHub in the first place.<br><br>Broadcasts one SSID for both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz… I usually segment my devices based on what is the maximum wifi spec they can achieve. We have two 1st generation Chromecasts (2.4Ghz only) that I like to keep separated on the 2.4Ghz band, while our Galaxy S5’s, iPads, and everything else gets separated on the 5GHz band. Maybe that’s just crazy… but the OnHub doing this for me is a little un
Overall Review: Packaging and Un-boxing:<br>Very “Apple” like packaging… what you would expect to get when purchasing a $200 wireless router.<br><br>Comes with:<br>OnHub router<br>2 ethernet cables (flat)<br>1 AC power adapter<br>Color code card<br>“setup instructions” printed on the inside of the lid<br><br>Powering up and setting up:<br>IT MAKES NOISES!!! Pairs with a “song” and then makes more noises when it’s “building your network."<br><br>Wrap-Up:<br>There are plenty of other AC routers that don’t tip the price-point scale at around $200. First, let’s recap the good:<br>- Setup is a BREEZE… short of plugging the cables in for you, anyone could be up and running within minutes<br>- Sleek design… it looks good and you won’t want to hide it away.<br>- Great bandwidth monitoring from the app… you can see who’s connected and how much bandwidth they are pulling (at least wireless clients). You can also prioritize a single client for a specific amount of time.<br><br>Now for the not so good:<br>- Only one LAN port… I got around this by adding a 5 port gigabit switch in our home office (Brother all-in-one needs a wired connection, so does our office workstation = 2 ports). It’s not so bad, because there’s a work-around, but after spending $200 on a wireless router, you’ve got to spend another $30 to fix the one LAN port issue.<br>- Can only be administered through the Google On app… not a huge deal… but it would be nice to get the same info that the app has, but in a web UI.<br>- Can’t nickname your devices… this is nothing new, as I’ve said before, I experienced this before with a D-Link DGL-5500… things can get confusing if you have multiple phones and / or tablets of the same operating system (my wife and I both have Galaxy S5’s and both show up as “Android device”).<br>- Broadcasts one SSID for both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz… I usually segment my devices based on what is the maximum wifi spec they can achieve. We have two 1st generation Chromecasts (2.4Ghz only) that I like to keep separated on the 2.4Ghz band, while our Galaxy S5’s, iPads, and everything else gets separated on the 5GHz band. Maybe that’s just crazy… but the OnHub doing this for me is a little uncomfortable (it often places devices that can utilize the 5Ghz band on the 2.4Ghz, so then they only get 2.4Ghz speeds).<br><br>Buy it because: it looks good and is easy as pie. Also Google has said they’re going to keep it fresh with firmware updates every once in awhile (...to enable new features?!?!); you’re sort of investing in it now and hopefully down the road it will do more. I feel like parents or grandparents could handle this without any issues.<br><br>Skip it because: there’s only one LAN port, can only be administered through the Google On app., can’t nickname devices, Broadcasts one SSID for both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands, lacks advanced networking features of other more affordable routers. Not for advanced users… yet.
Pros: Very easy to setup and optimize if you have a basic home network
Impressive Wireless signal strength and speed, very consistent.
Very stylish, it's much more of a conversation piece than the 4+ year old router it replaced.
The app is elegantly designed, and offers a fair amount of network usage information quickly and easily.
Cons: Bluetooth 4.0 and 801.15.4 (ZigBee/Thread) built in, but not currently implemented.
*USB port is NOT CURRENTLY USABLE for NAS*
Speaker is useless outside of the initial setup.
One usable ethernet port.
Overall Review: Firstly, I want to note that while the packaging was extremely well done, there really aren't any instructions that come along with it. While that largely isn't an issue, I couldn't find anything anywhere that specifically stated how you remove the outer cylinder (which you have to do in order to take off the anti-dust plastic wrap and plug in the various connectors). For documentation purposes, I want to state that the outer ring has to be twisted off in a counter-clockwise direction. Other than that, all you have to do is download the OnHub app (called Google On in the play store) and it will walk you through the rest.
Now that that's out of te way, I want to state that this is simultaneously one of the easiest, and one of the most frustrating routers I've ever worked with.
If you look at it from the perspective that Google initially designed it for (great wifi/easy setup/elegant design) it scores high marks in all of those areas. The problems come into play when you step ANYWHERE outside of those three things.
As stated above, practically every other feature that the onhub has that is meant to compete or beat most other routers is simply NOT implemented right now, which means if you buy it right now at full price, you're buying an incomplete product.
I can live without most of the features, but the speaker and the USB port are a real slap in the face. Why would you go to such great lengths to incorporate a speaker into your router design if all you're going to use it for is part of the setup process? That's absurd.
The USB is even worse, as that's something implemented in nearly all routers at every level of market today. The least they could've done was mention that the USB is currently not usable for network storage on or in the box. There are bound to be a few frustrated purchasers as a result of that.
Finally, the lack of ethernet ports. Even the Apple AirPort Extreme (which this is clearly meant to compete against) has THREE ethernet ports available on the back. How could this have been so easily overlooked? Of all the things this router does wrong, this is probably the smallest problem, but also would've been the easiest to fix.
As far as wireless/ease of use/elegant design are concerned, this thing gets five stars. However, until Google decides to update the software to fully implement all of the potential features of this router, I'm forced to take away two eggs. I'm very close to taking away three, but it DOES do what it's meant to do extremely well. I just wish this wasn't so half-baked.
Pros: - Super easy setup!
- Simple Ui.
- Elegant design.
- Brilliant LED status ring.
- small footprint.
- Flat Cables!
Cons: - A little pricey for the hardware. *You're paying for the convenience and ease of use more than anything else.*
- Limited connectivity and functionality (For now) *2 LAN ports...*
- USB port not really useful at the time of review.
- App is pretty basic *But that's the point!*
Overall Review: If you're looking for a no-nonsense, no frills router that is geared for mainly WiFi devices, and or, you're not too tech-savy, this is the router you've been looking for! Seriously, the setup takes less than 10 minutes at the most.
In the future I'd love to see a beefier model with more LAN ports, processing power, and added features for the same price point.
Pros: Perfect for the not-so-tech-savy hipster that mainly has wifi devices
Setup was super simple - plug in the unit, download the app, put phone near router "beep beep bo beep" and the wifi is configured.
Looks pretty sweet - the pulsing LED ring on top is kind of neat too
Signal and speed compared to most $200 AC routers is good to decent
Its looks let you mount this piece in your living room or other social area without looking ugly
This last benefit makes effectively adding strong wifi to the areas you spend the most time in (instead of having your ugly 10 pronged Wifi router in your office or basement)
Has 1x gigabit ethernet port and 1x USB 3.0 (see cons)
802.15.4 wifi and Weave ready which will open up a host of opportunities down the road (think smart home communications- ie controls dishwasher, thermostat, lighting...etc)
Cons: What does the USB 3.0 do? I have no idea... because there are no instructions.
There are no instructions except the downloadable app.
What if you want to plug in more than one computer...? You need a switch. (no one who buys this will know what or how to set up a switch)
It is smart bluetooth, weave, 802.15.4 ready, but not yet.
Overall Review: This really a product for the future and not so much the right now. The generation of folks with actual computers and light switches will not so much benefit from this device over any other AC wifi router currently available. The total nerded-out futurist though will have a field day wifing up their place with cool gadgets and controls for their own personal cloud/home. In my view, for the money right now though your hard earned cash would be better spent on a top of the line feature rich AC wifi router in all but a few circumstances.
Pros: I tested the TP-LINK - Google OnHub Dual-Band Wireless AC1900 Gigabit Router. I received the blue colored model for my testing. One thing I really like about this router is its appearance; gone are the ugly antennas sticking out that make other routers look like something out of B-rated science fiction movie. The OnHub has 13 internal WIFI antennas in total. Six for the low band, six for the high band and one for detecting and correcting local WIFI congestion. Some of the outstanding features include:
WIFI-AC1900 2.4/5.0 GHz Dual band support
An Easy Smart Phone Setup App
The App supports both Android & Mac Smart Phones
13 Internal WIFI Antennas
Memory: 4GB of eMMC, 1GB DDR3L, 8 MB NOR
USB 3.0* Support
Gigabit Ethernet LAN Support
Bluetooth Smart Ready
Built-in 3-Watt Audio Speaker
Trusted Platform Module - Infineon SLB 9615
ZigBee local wireless mesh networking support*
Accepts other decorative outer covers
To install the OnHub: Begin by connecting the WAN and power cables, then download the OnHub installation App to either an Android, or a Mac Smart Phone. For an Android phone simply visit the Google App store. The App will request the usual onerous permissions to detect your location, snoop your phone's directory, Etc. After agreeing to these requests and entering your desired WIFI password the OnHub App will prompt you to hold your phone near the OnHub's top mounted speaker. The OnHub then communicates with your phone using audio signals that sound similar an old fashioned dial-up modem. The OnHub also has an LED light ring near the top that glows different colors depending on its current status. Red and amber both indicate problems, while a soft blue/green glow signals that all-is-well.
The Android App also has an Internet benchmark speed test and an advanced features setup menu. The App can be used to set one of your portable devices as a preferred WIFI device for a specified period of time. This would be useful if you wanted to view a movie on a tablet without interruptions from other nearby WIFI devices. You can also control the LED brightness, view the OnHub's current status, any connected devices, trigger a restart, or perform a factory reset to the OnHub, all via the remote control phone App. Firmware and software updates are also handled by the phone App's intelligent user interface.
Cons: *It's not a finished product. The USB 3.0 port does nothing, the ZigBee support is turned off, will Google add voice control commands?, Etc. This also begs the question will it ever be completed? Google worked with TP-Link and Asus to co-develop the OnHub hardware. They plan to turn-on additional features via future firmware/software updates. That's nice, but Google has a long history of starting new projects and then abandoning them before they are ever completed. I would caution potential OnHub buyers to weigh spending $200.00 for an OnHub router until after Google and TP-Link turn-on more of the promised features and show they are truly committed to this new router platform technology.
I had a problem getting the outer blue cover off of my OnHub so I could access the wiring jacks. No setup directions are provided in the box and you have to get the outer cover off in order to access the: WAN, LAN and power jacks. Google and TP-Link's OnHub websites were not much help either. I finally found a tear-down site that showed the OnHub with its cover removed. I was able to discern by the photos that it uses a bayonet locking mechanism. Pushing down and turning counter-clockwise real-hard finally broke the stubborn cover loose from its mounts. After that it was a cinch to hookup.
Given its size and cost: the lack of a hard drive bay, SD card slot, or a working USB 3.0 port for connecting an external hard drive or a networked printer; I subtracted half an egg from the OnHub. The unit is large enough it would be nice if it had a hidden bay that you could slip in either an: SD, SSD, M.2, or an mSATA card to provide centralized NAS storage similar to a Mac Airport router.
If you own: a Windows home server, a NAS server, or hard-wired Ethernet connected printer(s) in your SOHO that require fixed IP addresses, there is presently no way to assign a fixed IP range for these networked devices. They are normally assigned a fixed IP address above or below the normal DHCP range. There is also no way to specify a Windows workgroup name for your LAN. These are both oversights that are going to limit the real-world SOHO uses for an On-Hub in a Windows based peer to peer networking environment. Hopefully these and other shortfalls can be addressed in a future software update for the OnHub.
Overall Review: A lot of reviewers have complained about the fact the OnHub only has one Ethernet LAN jack. I really don't have an issue with that. Many users already own an Ethernet switch, or an existing 4-port router in their home or office that could be pressed into service. So simply run a patch cable from the OnHub's Ethernet out jack to a LAN switch located in an out of the way location, or inside a cabinet where all the wires are all kept out-of-site. The 4-ports provided on most routers are too few to be of much use anyways. I have a 16-port gigabit switch located in my den, where it and its connected wiring spaghetti are all kept mostly out-of-sight. I think that Google is on the right track here. I was able to place the OnHub out in the open in my family room, where it was closer to where we actually use our portable WIFI devices and provides better overall WIFI reception.
As an EggExpert I have tested a lot of high-end AC routers in the past few years and the OnHub has so far provided the fastest, strongest, most consistent WIFI-AC connections to our various laptops, tablets and smart phones, as compared to any other router I have tested to-date. I ran the OnHub concurrently with another $200 WIFI-AC router. When I pull into my driveway after work, my Android phone automatically seeks out and connects to the stronger OnHub WIFI signal. My wife has noticed that her Android based Nexus-7 tablet now has a more stable Internet connection via the OnHub. Our previous AC router would cause the signal strength indicator to continually rise and fall and constantly drop connections to her tablet. The OnHub feels more like being connected to a hard-wired Ethernet connection than it does to WIFI. The OnHub automatically optimizes and determines the best frequency band and channel to use for a given WIFI device connected to it
If you are a power-user, I guarantee that you will be totally frustrated with the OnHub's lack of an onboard web site and the associated myriad of settings, that you would normally be able to tweak via your desktop or laptop browser. I subtracted another half an egg for this missing feature. Hopefully Google will add a built-in web site at a future date. Also if you don't have access to an Android or Mac smart phone you should take a pass on buying an OnHub. On the other-hand if you are a new-user, a technophobe, or Mac user, I can highly recommend the Google OnHub for its setup simplicity, fast WIFI connections and ease-of-use. If you are interested in using the USB 3.0 port for NAS storage, or the ZigBee home automation, or the Smart Bluetooth features, I would hold-off purchasing an OnHub until after Google activates these and other promised future software features. Highly recommended; provided the reader is aware of the device's current feature limitations.
Pros: - Aesthetically, the OnHub is unique; I happen to like its transmogrification on the traditional router, but others may disagree. There’s an argument to be had that it more seamlessly fits into your family room, as it looks like a speaker… or a techy trash can. The outside shield has a magnificent matte finish that doesn’t show fingerprints. When powered on, it has a beautiful LED rim at the top which–depending on color–will act as a simplistic status indicator.
- The packaging that the OnHub comes in is phenomenal. It’s packaged like a Tiffany’s jewelry box. Included are the best Ethernet cables I’ve laid my hands on; flat, extremely flexible, long (~46”) and black. To that extent, there’s even a rubber tie-wrap on the power adapter for cable management (see Cons).
- The OnHub has no visible antennae but sport 13 of them hidden inside of it. In terms of aesthetics, this helps greatly and seems to be better than most external antennae routers. Its hardware includes support for AC enabled devices and will support 802.15.5 and ZigBee. Due to the App usage, it can be expected that future firmware updates will further improve the OnHub, but that’s just conjecture, even though Google is known to deliver in this department.
- The OnHub has probably the best reach of any router I’ve used, and trust me, that’s a lot of routers. In a known dead-zone in my house, where merely a weak Wi-Fi signal creeps in, the OnHub manages to achieve great speeds with reliable streaming integrity and signal. Its reach is far too; as I have a very long one-story ranch house, and the OnHub hits every area while centered in the middle of the home. When on the AC band, it scores exceptionally in speed tests, as well. I won’t provide benchmarks since they’re mostly relative with networking devices, but I have yet to encounter a single signal drop.
- Though I encountered one issue with setup and many with limitations (see Cons), the companion Google On App is easier to navigate than the traditional Network Browser. It also was quick to setup. It warned me that there was another router present in my network, eloquently explained every setting, and drew up a web-like diagram to illustrate the network and connected devices (which you can’t rename). There’s a built-in Network Check that will report your upload and download speeds, as well as the connection’s efficiency. It presents the number of devices connected to your network and the bandwidth usage of these devices in real-time. You can also check how much data was used over an hour, 7 days, or as much as 30 days. There is even a setting for the LED strip’s brightness level, and to switch from a NAT to a Bridge mode. The advanced tweaking includes DNS, WAN, Port Forwarding and Static IP settings, but lacks the broad scope of some browser network configurations (see Cons).
Cons: - Though I love the included cables, the power brick is huge and built into the outlet plug like an oversized wall wart. This inevitably causes outlet positioning and space issues on power strips (it’s horizontally built so on wall outlets, it shouldn’t block the adjacent outlet). I’d much rather have a laptop type power brick than one big wall wart. The OnHub also lacks an included manual for setup, just a post-it note card. It doesn’t even tell you the name of the app needed for download.
- The OnHub indeed has two simultaneous Wi-Fi bands, the 2.4GHz and 5GHz; however, you don’t have the choice of picking which band you’d like to connect to or naming separate SSIDs for them. After testing one device that only supports 2.4GHz and one that supports AC/5GHz, it appears the OnHub will automatically select the band best for you at the given time. I personally like the option of choosing which band to connect to, as it does matter. This is another example of the OnHub’s streamlined design that ends up being a detriment to users, rather than a benefit.
- Setup is interesting, and in typical Google fashion, unlike any router setup I’ve done before. At first, you try and use the companion App (Google On) by placing your phone over the OnHub. Then you’ll hear a series of audio beeps, claiming they are trying to receive a secret audio code. After multiple failed attempts, I threw in the towel and set it up manually using the password on the bottom of the device. The manual entry was an instant fix.
- The companion App is sleek; the GUI is intuitive, it’s very streamlined, and it gives you some quick, handy tweaking options. Nonetheless, the app is the OnHub’s Achilles heel. It’s constrictive, restricting advanced networking options and not even offering a way to configure a USB connected device. I assume the USB port is there simply for connecting a printer, because my external HDDs weren’t even recognized. Also, you’re forced to use the app for all administration purposes and to do so with a Google account. Using a Google account to me isn’t a cardinal sin, it’s just annoying and I would understand users taking issue; especially Apple device owners.
- I do like the OnHub’s minimalistic design and I understand to that extent why they implemented only one LAN port, but there’s only one LAN port... You’ll definitely need a bridge/switch/AP if you’d like to expand your home’s connectivity. Also, there’s only one USB 3.0, while most routers in a similar price range, offer two, but in this case makes sense due to the limited capability.
- The LED rim at the top are the sole status indicators. Since there’s only one LED, there aren’t many troubleshooting or status checking options available at a glance. For example, you can’t quickly see if the USB device connected to it is working or what exactly is wrong with your network at first glance.
Overall Review: - I didn’t want to force it too much and break it, so it honestly took me 30 minutes to figure out how to open the outer shield. You have to have both hands on top and bottom of the device, twist left with some force, then lift up. I don’t know if just mine was stubborn or if they all are. I know it’s silly, but I still thought it worthy of mentioning–if not just to prove I’m an idiot and that the lack of manuals can cause easy issues to be easily resolved.
- Google/TP-Link never specifies the app you need to download (again, lack of manual) but it’s called “Google On.” During setup, the router actually produces noises, as the top is, interestingly enough, a speaker.
* The OnHub will be a great router for a consumer that desires a simple home network; one who primarily uses mobile devices, who doesn’t need to toy with advanced network settings, one who doesn’t use a USB connected NAS or a quick removable storage device, and one who doesn’t have a user for more than one LAN hardwired port. Though this router doesn’t fit my networking needs, I will be using it as a simple Wi-Fi bridge in order to replace two Powerline Wi-Fi adapters, as its signal strength is much better. However, I would never be able to supplement my main router with this. It would decimate the way my network functions, handicapping me in more ways than are worth mentioning. I think this may be a good router for a user that desires simplicity; Nevertheless nowadays, there are a slew of simple, cheap devices to quickly get online. For these reasons, I believe the OnHub falls short in finding that right balance between functionality, price and simplicity. *