Google Adds to Its New OnHub WiFi Router Line

The new device, built by Taiwanese hardware maker Asus, is similar to its predecessor but is taller, broader, lighter and more expensive.

Google OnHub

Google added a second member to its recently introduced OnHub router family, this one built by Taiwanese hardware maker Asus.

The new Asus OnHub router is similar in looks and capabilities to the introductory OnHub model built by China's TP-Link Technologies that Google released in August.

It has the same narrow, lampshade-like shape of its predecessor, but is taller, broader, lighter, and at $219, also $20 more expensive than the first model.

A Google spec sheet that offers a side-by-side comparison of the two devices shows that the Asus OnHub and the introductory model are identical in most respects but a few.

Like the TP-Link OnHub device, the new Asus OnHub supports a feature that lets consumers prioritize bandwidth speeds for different devices based on use. The new model, however, introduces a feature called Wave Control that lets users boost WiFi speed to a particular device simply by waving a hand over it. That's different from the TP-Link OnHub, which features a front-facing antenna reflector for enhancing WiFi signals to the device it is pointed at.

The Asus OnHub also comes with a proximity sensor and what Google describes as a smart antenna algorithm for directing WiFi signals to devices based in different locations of the house.

"Phone in the kitchen? Laptop in the living room? OnHub will intelligently select the best combination of antennas to direct Wi-Fi to your devices, based on their location and orientation," Tron Wuellner, group product manager for OnHub at Google, explained in a blog post Oct. 27.

Google pitched OnHub as smart routers optimized for the WiFi consumption habits of modern household and emerging smart homes. The company said OnHub routers can be used to direct WiFi to 128 connected devices simultaneously, including those using nascent smart-home wireless standards like Weave and Thread.

Google has touted features like OnHub's circular antenna design, its frequently updated software and device prioritization as key to enabling optimal WiFi service in homes. Each device comes with up to 4GB of space to receive software updates. OnHub is designed to work with existing Internet services and wireless devices and can be used either as a router replacement or as an upgrade to devices that combine a router and modem capability, according to Google.

Consumers can use the Google On app to set up, configure and manage OnHub devices. The app allows users to see WiFi-connected devices in their homes that require the most bandwidth so they can prioritize service availability to those devices.

Since its launch in August, OnHub has received a fair amount of positive press from reviewers and users impressed with its sleek design and ease of set up, but the product has received mixed reviews on the performance front. Some have lauded OnHub as leaving rivals in the dust, but others have faulted the routers for not delivering the speed and performance of devices in the $200 price range. And a few have described OnHub, with its 14 internal antennas as overkill and a device in search of a purpose for most households.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.