Nest Wifi Pro brings 6E network, removes Assistant and backward compatibility

enlarge / The four Nest Wifi Pro colors you can buy for your bird’s-egg-style connectivity. From left: Linen, Snow, Fog, Lemongrass.

Google

Google’s Nest Wifi Pro system, previously seen at the Federal Communications Commission and in accidental retail listings, has been made official. The system expands the wireless powers of a Nest mesh system and adds Thread and Matter support, but it can’t work with older Nest Wifi hardware.

The big upgrade in the Pro system is Wi-Fi 6E, which makes use of newer spectrum space in the 6–7 GHz band, along with the common 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. For those living in a crowded Wi-Fi environment, 6E could mean better, faster connections, though at reduced range and with less wall and floor penetration than 2.4 GHz. If you have very new devices that work with Wi-Fi 6E, you’ll immediately see the change. For most of us, at the moment, 6E is more future-proofing than signal-boosting, though each device that uses the newer standard takes some load off the network.

Google says that Nest Wifi Pro’s router unit ($199) can cover up to 2,200 square feet per piece, which is 200 questionable feet more than the Eero Pro 6E and has a theoretical top speed of 5.4Gbps. Notably, each Wifi Pro piece comes with two 1 Gbps Ethernet ports, not just the router, allowing for both wired backhaul between multiple units and for connecting select devices via Ethernet (likely with the addition of a network switch). That’s an improvement over the prior Wi-Fi 5-based Nest Wifi, which was an otherwise all-around decent performer in our benchmark testing.

The backside of a Nest Wifi Pro unit.  Unlike prior Nest Wifi units, each Nest Wifi Pro is the same hardware, with two 1Gbps Ethernet ports.  Whichever unit you plug into your Internet source becomes the router.
enlarge / The backside of a Nest Wifi Pro unit. Unlike prior Nest Wifi units, each Nest Wifi Pro is the same hardware, with two 1Gbps Ethernet ports. Whichever unit you plug into your Internet source becomes the router.

Google

If you owned that decent-coverage Nest Wifi and wanted to use its access points with a single new Nest Wifi Pro router, you’re out of luck. The Nest Wifi Pro is not backward compatible with either Nest Wifi or the Google Wifi that preceded it. You’re also losing a feature from Nest Wifi: Google Assistant microphones and music speakers built into each unit. While some might not miss having an always-on microphone and $30-Bluetooth-level-speaker at each access point, it’s strange to see Google miss a chance to expand its Assistant reach.

There is something new in the Nest Wifi Pro besides 6E, however: Thread and Matter support. Each Wifi Pro unit can act as a Thread border router, creating and expanding a mesh network of connectivity for low-power devices around your home. And each hub also supports Matter and can act as a Matter hub, allowing for easier setup and management of the Nest Wifi outside of Google’s own apps and opening up other Matter devices for you—when Matter launches in the (seemingly already here) fall of 2022.

Software-wise, Nest touts that the Wifi Pro system can monitor itself and correct problems like streaming video stuttering and set priority devices with preferred access. It also touts the now-standard features of a commercial mesh system, like guest networks, parental controls, and automatic security updates.

Nest Wifi Pro costs $199 for a single router, $299 for a two-pack, or $399 for a three-pack. Units are available on October 27, though you can preorder at Amazon and the Google Store now.

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