Google announces $200 OnHub wireless router -- but why?

onhub

Wireless routers are rather ubiquitous nowadays. Many homes and businesses have them installed, making connecting to the internet a fairly mindless affair. They have even dropped in price -- a solid router can be had for under $50, while some ISPs give them to users at no charge.

With that said, why the heck would Google expect people to pay $200 for a rather basic router? Today, the search giant announces OnHub -- a run-of-the-mill TP-Link router, without external antennas, for an insanely high price. Don't get me wrong, some routers are worthy of the money, but surely not the Amazon Echo design-inspired, OnHub.

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"Ugh...not again. You get home at the end of the day, and sit down to stream a new movie or upload vacation photos -- and your Wi-Fi slows to a crawl or just stops working. Instead of relaxing in front of the screen or sharing those photos with friends, you spend it unplugging and re-plugging cords, trying to decipher blinking lights, or contemplating a call to customer support", says Google.

The search giant further explains, "while we count on Wi-Fi more than ever to be entertained, productive, and stay connected, we’re streaming and sharing in new ways our old routers were never built to handle. So today, with our partner TP-LINK, we’re launching OnHub, a different kind of router for a new way to Wi-Fi. Instead of headaches and spotty connections, OnHub gives you Wi-Fi that’s fast, secure, and easy to use".

As you can see in the above video, Google seems to paint a picture where setting up a router is painfully difficult and they are constantly dropping connections. Maybe that was the case a decade ago, but quite frankly, modern routers can be configured fairly easily and offer dependable service.

Google touts the benefits of having an app that can monitor the router, but that is not new -- many router manufacturers offer such a thing. Luckily, Google is supporting both Android and iOS.

Google explains the benefits of the app by saying it "tells you how much bandwidth your devices are using, lets you run a network check, and if there's an issue with your Wi-Fi, the app offers suggestions to help. And, instead of lost passwords and sticky notes, it even reveals your password with a single tap and lets you text or email it to friends".

Why the heck does Google think the world needs this? Emailing my router password in plain text to friends? No way.

The search giant promises to roll out more 'OnHub' routers in the future, and mentions ASUS as a partner. This comes across as an attempt by Google to control router software.

The problem is -- and I'm not a conspiracy theorist -- I don't know that I want Google controlling my router software. The company already has access to my search history and email -- this sort of crosses a line. Let's not forget how disastrous Android has been from a security standpoint lately -- maybe Google should focus on that operating system instead.

If you want to buy this thing for some reason, you can pre-order now at the Google Store, Amazon, and Walmart.com.

Will you buy this router? Tell me in the comments.

26 Responses to Google announces $200 OnHub wireless router -- but why?

  1. benjamin franklin says:

    yes. all wireless routers from isp are crappy. it's cheap,neat,easy to use and antenna specs is quite very good. for 200 I'll go for it than wasting my time researching which one is the best wifi router, and I still have to spend above 200 and signal doesn't even reach my room.

    • 1DaveN says:

      You can get a number of the TP-Link Archer series routers for under $100, and I've seen the C7 rated as the best value quality router available. If you look at the choices once you get above $150, I can't see anyone who does any comparison shopping buying this one - there are some screaming fast, proven reliable models for well under $200.

  2. 1DaveN says:

    This thing has Bluetooth and a bunch of "smart home" features. Aside from the fact that I don't want my router and smart home hub to be one device (what do you do when it breaks?), I don't find any smart home stuff I've seen so far to be compelling enough to buy at. And, I am a conspiracy theorist, so no Google for me.

  3. spwx says:

    I cant find good router that works fine with everything i have, and has good reception throughout the house.. so i cant wait for the reviews.

    • Fatman says:

      $20 wifi extenders will fix that for ya. Healthier (IMO) than bombarding a much stronger/wider-than-needed signal from a single point, anyway.

      • Pascal Aschwanden says:

        Wifi extenders may increase your channel strength, but they also reduce your speed quite a bit, sometimes drastically.

  4. psycros says:

    Much like the federal government, Google wants end-to-end data monitoring of everyone on Earth. Its no more complicated than that. I look forward to the reports from hackers who've torn this router to bits..I'm sure they'll be quite revealing.

  5. PC_Tool says:

    "a run-of-the-mill TP-Link router, without external antennas"

    rofl...

    Damn, Brian. Thanks for the laugh.

    Run of the mill? Er...no. Read the list of tech it supports.

    Without external antennas? Well yeah...That's actually one of their selling points, sparky.

    Don't bother mentioning the array or 13 internal circular antennas or anything, though. That'd be silly.

    Now, I'm not going to go out and buy one of these - I have a very good ASUS router that originally retailed for a bit more than this one.

    • Fatman says:

      +1 for the Asus RT-AC68U mention.

      A router ain't supposed to be pretty and shit.

      • PC_Tool says:

        But if it can be and still be highly effective, it's all good. :)

      • Fatman says:

        At no added cost and without compromising on functionality or health? Sure. I still get a feeling this thing won't become one of the top 10 favorite routers among the geeks.

      • PC_Tool says:

        Depends entirely on the class of geek. ;-)

        (Still sticking with my Asus, but when this hits the streets, if the price goes down and reports are good? Options...)

      • swattz101 says:

        I'm waiting for Google to combine them with Nest thermostats and smoke alarms through weave to create a mesh network. Then maybe these will be a little more impressive.

        The addition of BlueTooth and Zigbee is interesting. And I like the idea of 6 antenna for each band that can use beam forming. My Asus AC87U has 4 antenna. I's still sticking with my Asus for the foreseeable future also, but who knows what the future might bring?

      • PC_Tool says:

        The tech is pretty slick - still not sure if it's worth the price though. I'll wait and see what they do with it.

        (Your mesh idea is probably on their list....)

  6. happysmash27 says:

    Google controls your phone (Android).......... Google controls your computer (Google Chrome)....... Google controls your router (OnHub, the thing you just looked at)......... Google is your isp (Google Fiber)...... I think Google has a home automation system too........ Google controls your search (Google Search).......... Google controls your email (Gmail)........ Social Networking (Google+), your school (Google Classroom), your documents (Google Docs), and even more services......... and when you try to get away from Google, they even have your car. An don't forget the Google Glasses........

    This addition of a router means that Google finally has complete control of your life.

    • Designer Dragon says:

      I don't use a single one of those products or services.

      • Fatman says:

        I use plenty of Google services and products and they don't control my life one iota. If they start pissing me off one way or another, I'll be able to switch to an almost-as-good alternative in a matter of minutes... (My Gmail accounts are with my domain names, for example). "Control" is when it's too hard to say "F U" and move on.

        Now if Google paid me $20,000 a month to use their products & services, then yes, I'd probably willfully give them control of almost every aspect of my life (including city/state of residence)... But even then I would never let them tell me "eat unhealthy and don't exercise" for NO AMOUNT OF MONEY IN THE WORLD.

    • PC_Tool says:

      I believe you may have a somewhat confused definition of "control"...

      Get some therapy and maybe try again.

      • Fatman says:

        I hope that therapy is near a McDonald's because he is controlled by their Big Mac and especially their delicious French fries! Where's the NSA when you need it!? I said FRENCH fries are controlling American citizens via the biggest food FRENCHise in the world!

        ...

        Hehehehe. Controlled by your choice of products/services... Rrright...

  7. Neoprimal says:

    https://on.google.com/hub/#specs

    Not to defend Google or anything, but that is actually quite easily a $200 router, at least at this point in time. If you check on the several other $200 routers out there, apart from the external antennas those have, the specs are similar and this one has them beat on the features end. Not to mention I'm sure this will constantly get security (and software_ updates and such whereas my current AC1200 Linksys router hasn't had an update since it hit the market and it's definitely not perfect, I have to turn upnp off for it to give me full bandwidth of my cable over time (otherwise it slowly drops after a week or so).

    I would not hesitate in getting one at that price, except that I am old school in a way (I try to embrace change, I really do) prefer my main/gaming PC and my HTPC on wires and this thing has only 1 LAN port as it is definitely built to be a wireless monster. I could use a switch though. After all the reviews hit and the Asus model comes out I'll make a decision. If it delivers on it's promises, I have no problem buying one.

    The point is that this is not your run-of-the-mill router by any means.

  8. wittgenfrog says:

    It appears partially to be their bid to pre-empt the Internet of Things fad, and try and "do an Android" by getting their system out to secure market share ASAP.

    Many people using a Home Router probably have a Windows PC or laptop as their "main" device.
    According to Google:
    "...For initial setup, the Google On app on a device with Android 4.0 or higher or iOS 7 or higher is required."
    To call this requirement perverse, is an understatement. OK we know Google has an anti-MS stance, but this is ridiculous....

    From a security perspective, the use of Android devices to "control" my router from "anywhere" doesn't impress either. This has all the hallmarks of (yet another) short-lived Google product tha'll be scrapped or replaced fairly rapidly.

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  10. Jeff Miller says:

    Not a chance. I'll stick with my WRT1900AC. The thing is a beast, and can be had for under the $200 that Google is pushing. Cloud-based monitoring, apps for Android/iOS devices, and fantastic UI... not to mention killer performance.

  11. Metalp3n says:

    Thank you! I agree with you here 100%. I actually recorded a video yesterday stating much of the same thing. I just don't get the point behind the OnHub.

    It's a WiFi router that's intended to simplify WiFi networking and use for the average, non-techie, Internet user. It does this by doing what Auto Channel mode does on most routers these days already. Oh it also has 13 internal antennas.

    Everything is designed to be simple. Simple setup. Auto managed WiFi settings. Things your average techie doesn't like. Not to say that the setup for a Netgear N900 or a Linksys WRT1900AC is hard - it's just not as simplified.BUT then the Google OnHub goes on and has fun techie features like support for Zigbee and Google Nest's Weave - which means It will probably do cool techie things with IoT devices. That techies will like. But then they'll try to change settings and customize things and find a simplified interface with limited functionality. Things techies do not like.

    All while that's happening the average Internet user never realized the OnHub had half of those features. They just like that it has 13 antennas.

    So what's the point exactly?

  12. Pascal Aschwanden says:

    This article is wrong about one thing: We still have problems with Router signals dropping out! The reason is, the 2.4 ghz bands are excessively congested, so much so, that we're only getting 1-4 mbps, on a 12 mbps connection. We can't switch to a 5 ghz connection, because most routers have extremely limited range on that band.

    What I'd really like to see, is some comparison of the Google Onhub Range and speed decay on the 5 Ghz band. If they could create a decent 5 ghz range of about 40 feet with very little speed lose, that would solve a huge pain point that most routers have not been able to address.

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