Nest Wi-Fi is a big improvement over Google Wi-Fi. But is it enough?

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Enlarge (credit: Jim Salter)

Google says its new Nest Wi-Fi isn't just Google Wi-Fi plus a smart speaker—it's new, improved, and with better coverage. This is good news—despite the impressive sales numbers Google says it has for the original Google Wi-Fi, the product never ranked very well in performance tests at Wirecutter, Smallnetbuilder, or here at Ars.
In fact, Google claimed that the new Nest Wi-Fi would cover "up to 3,800 square feet." This raised our eyebrows immediately, since one square foot is very much not like another—my own 3,500-square-foot house is a particular bear to cover due to the downstairs floor having plenty of packed earth occluding the line-of-sight between that entire floor and the router, for example.

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    The top floor of our test house is relatively straightforward—although like many houses, it suffers from terrible router placement nowhere near its center. [credit: Jim Salter ]

If you set up Wi-Fi systems in many houses, you'll also soon discover that even without an occluded sub-basement floor, a house shaped like one long Viking hall is very different from a house with similar volume but arranged in a mostly rectangular or L-shape. And heaven help you once you get into turn-of-the-century chicken-wire-and-daub walls, or apartments with central elevator shafts, and so forth.

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