Google has beefed up its Wi-Fi hardware, which can be used to extend the reach of wireless internet to the far corners of your home, and crimp your kids' access when necessary.
At the same time, it's inked a deal with Orcon that will give new customers to the ISP get Google Nest Wi-Fi free when they sign up to an unlimited data, naked (that is, no homeline) broadband plan.
It'll also be available at retail for $299 from next week.
Google released its Wi-Fi, in 2016 - also with a marketing partnership with Orcon.
The new Wi-Fi incorporates the company's "Nest" smarthome brand, and pumps up its range. The router is faster than its predecessor, has double the memory and twice the number of antennas with its 4x4 setup.
If you've got the fastest type of UFB fibre connection, the Nest can share it around your home at full-tilt - people's fast fibre connections are sometimes let down by a creaky Wi-Fi setup that only supports a limited maximum speed).
A Nest router will cover a one to two-bedroom home, or up to 200sq m.
Expansion points can be added for every other couple of rooms or floors.
I've been using Google Wi-Fi for a couple of years in a three-storey home, with the router on the ground floor, then Google Wi-Fi points on the middle and top floors (the points look the same as the base unit, as with Nest Wi-Fi).
Broadband speeds were always screaming on the ground floor where the router sits for a 1 gig Orcon connection, but speed used to degrade by a third or more on the middle floor and fall away noticably on the top floor. The Google Wi-Fi points even things out.
Many brands offer Wi-Fi extenders, but Google has one of the most user-friendly apps for seeing what devices are connected, then setting times when they be blocked - which can be automated on a schedule, or done manually with a couple of clicks.
A content-filtering option can be set to device-level.
I used to shout and shout for our kids to come downstairs and do the dishes. Now, I send a txt saying "Dishes now or wi-fi off" and I know they'll march down the stairs like clockwork a couple of minutes later.
Google Wi-Fi (and the new Google Nest Wi-Fi) is controlled by a smartphone app, which also comes in a version for iPhone.
The ability to block or filter individual devices, or a group of devices (say, a child's smartphone, tablet and laptop) means parents can merrily stay on
Facebook, even as they cramp their kids.
A key difference was at that time, you had to plug a Google Nest Wi-Fi point into your Orcon router.
The new one can be plugged straight into an optical network terminal (ONT), or the box that brings UFB fibre into your home. In simple terms, that means one less piece of hardware - making a physically cleaner setup, with less likelihood of any device conflicts causing glitches behind the scenes.
Slightly annoyingly, Google has so far only lined up the Google Nest Wi-Fi router for local release, with expander points not yet available, and no immediate ETA. Americans and others can buy the router bundled with one, two or three satellite points - which support Google's voice assistant.
However, the Nest Wi-Fi is backward compatible with older Google Wi-Fi points. You can buy a single point for around $179, or a three-pack for around $599.
Orcon is also offering the points for $5 a month each.
Note that although they're wireless in terms of broadband connectivity, each point needs to plug into the wall for power.
Wot no Wi-Fi 6
Google Nest Wi-Fi also lacks support for the latest Wi-Fi 6, which is not ideal for future-proofing - although for the foreseeable future, there's nothing that could soak up all the wireless oomph provided by the Nest.
Google's Nest product lead, Sanjay Noronha told the Herald that with the limited amount of smart devices today that support Wi-Fi 6, adding it was not worth the extra expense.
And there are lots of smarts under the bonnet to improve performance. For example, as devices move around a home, they connect to the closest access point. Under this "mesh" arrangement, multiple satellite units improve overall Wi-Fi performance by increasing speed to each device, while lowering contention (that is, fewer devices on each unit and a shorter distance to each access point).
"Our focus is on coverage, and our software algorithms optimise user experience - better video calls, better roaming as you walk across your home, regular software updates that keep adding features, and improving performance," Noronha said.
Two ports, no storm
The Nest Wi-Fi router also only has two ethernet ports, compared to the four or more you'd find on most home routers. But it also belts out wireless broadband at sufficient speed that there's no real need to cable any device to your router.
And if you're all Wi-Fi, that also gives you more control. I changed from cabling our smart TV to our router to connecting it via Wi-Fi, for example, which added the option to turn off wireless internet telly from the Google Wi-Fi app on my smartphone - giving me the ability to block the likes of Netflix, Disney+ and Neon at will.
The video is still smooth on the wireless connection. And with my new Google Wi-Fi powers, dishes get done.