What Google's OnHub Wireless Router Brings to Consumer Networking

1 - What Google's OnHub Wireless Router Brings to Consumer Networking
2 - OnHub's Design Is Meant to Stand Out and Work Better
3 - It's All About Connectivity Prioritization
4 - Easy Set-Up Is Nice to See
5 - The Google OnApp Is Integral
6 - OnHub Lets Router Owners See Who Is on the Network
7 - It Also Enables Remote Router Troubleshooting With Friends
8 - An Early Supporter of 802.15.4 and Weave Networking Protocols
9 - Router Software Updates Are Automated
10 - OnHub Simplified Password Management
11 - Pricing Is at the High End
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What Google's OnHub Wireless Router Brings to Consumer Networking

Google has expanded its efforts in the smart home business with the announcement of its OnHub smart wireless router. We take a look at its key features.

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OnHub's Design Is Meant to Stand Out and Work Better

If Google's design says anything, it's that the days of ugly boxes with antennas are over in the router business. The company's OnHub is has a cylindrical, contoured design that's meant to be left out for people to see—a stark contrast to the Plain Jane alternatives gathering dust on desks everywhere. Google's design also has a purpose. Its round top is meant to beam wireless connectivity in all directions to enhance its coverage area. From a design perspective, OnHub offers both form and function.

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It's All About Connectivity Prioritization

Google is pitching OnHub as the "smartest" router on the market, due in large part to its ability to prioritize connectivity. So, if users determine that they want streaming applications to run well and certain devices to have the best possible throughput, they give those instructions to OnHub. Simply put, the device gives users the ability to prioritize traffic, like streaming, or devices such as Apple TV, to make the overall user experience better.

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Easy Set-Up Is Nice to See

Google said that the set-up for its OnHub is best in class. Whether that's true remains to be seen. But it's nice to see a WiFi router producer improve the wireless set-up experience. Since the early days of WiFi, people with little computer experience have found themselves stymied in their attempts to connect their wireless router to the Web. Google claims OnHub does all the dirty work to get users online quickly and without too much fuss.

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The Google OnApp Is Integral

The Google OnApp software that works in tandem with the router is what sets OnHub apart from typical consumer WiFi routers The software, which runs on mobile devices, allows users to see hardware connected to the router, check out speeds, change traffic priorities and more. OnApp is all about simplifying the process of seeing behind the scenes of a wireless network and looks like a fine add-on for OnHub.

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OnHub Lets Router Owners See Who Is on the Network

One of the biggest potential security threats facing a wireless network is rogue users secretly logging on other people's networks wreaking havoc. Although it's possible to see what devices are running on a router through its IP address, Google has streamlined that process by providing analysis both online and in its OnApp. The feature could prove to be an important security component if users suspect neighbors or others are trying to hack into their networks.

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It Also Enables Remote Router Troubleshooting With Friends

In order to troubleshoot other routers, users will need to be on the local wireless network to solve connectivity problems. With OnHub, however, users can be remote and, through their OnApp, start troubleshooting another network. Better yet, the app allows users to ask friends to join in by providing them temporary access to the router. Remote troubleshooting could be a helpful addition when part of the family is at home and incapable of connecting to the Web and a family member who is tech savvy is someplace distant.

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An Early Supporter of 802.15.4 and Weave Networking Protocols

OnHub attempts to be a solution for the smart home and will play a central role in the Internet of things. The router achieves that goal with help from support for 802.15.4 and Weave, two protocols that are designed to deliver connectivity to Internet of things devices. Few routers currently support the protocols, making OnHub one of the leaders in enabling proper wireless connectivity for Internet of things' devices.

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Router Software Updates Are Automated

In the vast majority of cases, updating firmware on a router requires that a user go to his or her router's unique IP address in the browser and log in to update its software. Instead, OnHub automatically updates software from its own Web connectivity. Other routers need to go offline during software updates. It's a small feature but an appealing one, nonetheless.

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OnHub Simplified Password Management

OnHub also handles passwords differently than most other devices do. With help from OnApp, users can create an exceedingly strong password and not have to remember it for access. Instead, they can simply send over a message from OnApp to a friend who is visiting and needs permission to access the wireless network. The feature removes the need to remember simple passwords or store strong passwords separately from the router, thus boosting network security.

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Pricing Is at the High End

The OnHub is available for preorder through several retailers, including Amazon, Google and Walmart. The router will retail for $200, putting it at the higher end of the consumer router market. Google has not pegged an exact launch date for the device, saying only that it will be available "in the coming weeks." Look for it to be available well before the Christmas shopping season.

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