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Google OnHub Does Not Look Like Your Average Wi-Fi Router

08.25.15 | By
Google OnHub Does Not Look Like Your Average Wi-Fi Router
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With a cylindrical design which bears resemblance to that of sedate hued Dyson prototype, Google’s new OnHub Wi-Fi router is the company’s attempt to wrap simpler, intuitive design around the often onerous task of creating and connecting via Wi-Fi. And Google wants you to feel free and comfortable keeping it out in the open instead of hiding it away like most Wi-Fi routers…

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The design is clean and simple, but the specs are impressively robust: dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac offering Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1900 Mbps supporting both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, Bluetooth Smart Ready, Weave (Google’s “Internet of Things” strategy to connect multiple devices within the home), and home automation standard, 802.15.4. The OnBoard is designed to handle almost anything you can throw at it from a home user’s perspective, right down to its impressive array of 13 antennas within – 12 used for Wi-Fi signals, and the lucky 13th for keeping tabs on signal strength, which it adjusts automatically for up to 128 connected devices. Users can also pick device speed priority, meaning streaming content can take precedence over other devices when you want to eke out as much bandwidth for episodes of Mr. Robot.

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The tall cylindrical design wasn’t simply an aesthetic decision by Google’s team, but the result of measuring the strength of online signals cast from routers placed on floors versus on shelves. The difference between the two placement options was dramatic enough for Google to orient their device vertically:

“We discovered that when you put a router on the floor versus on the shelf, the one on the shelf performs twice as well as the one on the floor.” – Trond Wuellner, Google Product Manager

Another commendable detail: the OnBoard has forgone blinking indication lights and integrated a dimmable light ring with four color indicators to provide visual feedback. More detailed information is pushed to users via the Google On mobile app, where internet speeds and Wi-Fi signals can be monitored and adjusted.

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In some ways Google OnBoard could be considered the physical hardware companion to their Material Design push. OnBoard “flattens” and unifies the user experience of Wi-Fi network management with the same emphasis on making core functionality accessible for user actions while being visually unobtrusive. With the Internet of Things universe expanding exponentially, it will be interesting to see how Google uses the OnBoard to promote their vision of the connected home and their expanding list of Fiber connected cities.

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at gregoryhan.com.