Tech

Google's All New Smart WiFi Router OnHub: Yay or Nay?

By Monica U Santos , Oct 13, 2016 11:11 PM EDT

Google just announced its second wireless router for the home as part of its big hardware event - the Google smart WiFi Router called OnHub. What are its upside and downside?

What is OnHub?

It is a new cylindrical router that is worth $200. It promises a new way to Wi-Fi at home. The OnHub is a dual-band router designed by both Google and TP-Link that operates networks on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands simultaneously. The device supports Bluetooth 4.0 and a few smart home protocols. One such protocol is Weave, the Android team's Internet of Things (IoT) communications layer that it announced at Google I/O alongside Brillo, its Android-derived OS for IoT. It also supports Thread, an IoT wireless protocol created by Google's Nest Labs and Samsung. OnHub also offers IEEE 802.15.4, the basis for Zigbee, another IoT protocol that is popular in many devices.

OnHub: Yay or Nay?

The OnHub does have some features not commonly found on consumer routers. Unfortunately, most of them are not that useful or valuable right now.

Power users, won't be as satisfied with the OnHub for their own use. It's a strong performer, and it has some innovative features including that TPM module to foil hackers-but its feature set is much too limited. The OnHub won't let you share storage or a printer over your network - it doesn't have DLNA, FTP, or VPN servers; and it has just one LAN port.

One feature that is useful the OnHub's trusted platform module is the component more commonly found in other enterprise-class hardware. The TPM prevents the OnHub from booting if it doesn't recognize what's installed on it.

Google is currently striving with Asus on the design for the second release of OnHub model. Given Asus’s history of delivering high-performance routers with great features, let us all hope that this collaboration generates a router that will be more appealing to all kinds of users.

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