Settings up a WiFi router isn’t exactly rocket science. But it does take a bit of work to change the default password, find the channel with the best connection, and solve problems as they arise.

Google thinks it has a solution: the company has partnered with TP-Link to release a powerful but simple router called OnHub.

It’s available for pre-order for $200.

onhub_08

TheOnHub has a few things going for it. First, it’s not a bad looking device: so Google figures you’re less likely to hide it behind furniture or on the floor where the signal won’t be as strong.

Second, it can automatically detect the best channel for an optimal signal… and it’ll continually scan and make adjustments without any user interventions.

Third, OnHub is designed to work with the Google On app for Android or iOS, making it easy to manage your device from your phone or tablet. The app can show you how much bandwidth devices connected to the network are using, manage your password, and even share it with friends who want to connect to your network.

OnHub is also designed to download software updates automatically, and it’ll support smart home standards including Bluetooth Smart Ready, eave, and 802.15.4.

The OnHub is a cylinder that measures about 7.5″ tall and 4.6 inches in diameter. It weighs about 1.9 pounds.

The system is powered by a 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Atheros IPQ8064 dual-core processor and features 1GB of RAM, 4GB of eMMC flash storage, and 8MP of NOR flash. It has a USB 3.0 port, six tri-color array LEd lights, a TPM chip, and an ambient light sensor.

There’s also a 3 watt speaker which is used during setup. The OnHub device emits an audio tone which can be detected by a mobile app to help pair your phone or tablet with your router.

The router supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi networks and features 13 antennas (six for 2.4 GHz networks, six for 5 GHz networks, and one that’s dedicated to network congestion-sensing). There’s an Ethernet jack for input and a single 10/100/1000 Ethernet out jack.

You can connect up to 128 devices to a single OnHub.

While the first OnHub product is manufactured by TP-Link, Google says it’s working with Asus on another device that will be available in the future.

While there are certainly cheaper 802.11ac WiFi routers available, the TP-Link OnHub certainly isn’t the most expensive model I’ve seen either. And it certainly seems like it could be simpler to manage than some other routers.

via Google Blog

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30 replies on “OnHub is a simple $200 WiFi router from Google and TP-Link”

  1. The media seem to have swallowed Google’s spin. The “simple” features are standard these days in routers. They seem to be coming people who haven’t bought a router in 10 years (or perhaps by dirt cheap ones).

    Auto detection of best channel and mobile apps for control are bog standard features, as are whole loads of other features.

    Oh, they’ll be a new one from Asus later this year. I expect it to be similar to the one I have, with a Google logo on the front .

    I’m sure it’ll be a reasonable router, but the features are nothing new.

  2. This would be great for my elderly parents, except… no way they pay $200 to replace their $20 TP-Link router.

    So they will continue to service their own router when it hangs up:

  3. Interesting that they snuck ‘Google Tone’ (the Ultrasonic broadcast) in there. Why prefer this to NFC?

    1. Almost certainly because it covers far more phones than NFC would. Even a large number of 2015 phones have no NFC support.

    1. The whole concept seems to target a narrow market segment, but one that probably includes most of the market: simple consumers. The bad news is if this catches on we could see more traditional products fade away to a handful of pricey options because everyone wants the mass-market gravy.

      1. Except if they do catch on, all the manufacturers will begin competing in the same space and will be forced to compete on price. For example, smart TVs are no more expensive than the dumb ones they succeeded. And anyway, there will always someone around (TP-Link itself, for one) who will make money selling their $20 cheapo routers for those who don’t need the bells and whistles.

        1. The smart tv example is poor. They amortized it by spreading it across the entire line up of TV accept for the cheapest models. That made getting Smart TVs less expensive.

          As for fear mongering that simpler to use routers would make more hard core models obsolete is ludicrous. With the Baby Boomers being the largest generation of people over 50 in this country, they don’t need a 1/10th of the features a power user needs with a router. They aren’t trying to stream ripped high bit rate HD video, playing demanding shooters on consoles or PC’s (or both) and stream Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu all at the same time.

          For the vast majority they need one port maybe for a printer and that’s it.

          Everything else is WiFi and will increasingly go that route.

      2. These high end routers with lots of features already exist. And the cheaper options still exist too.

    2. Most Wifi routers seem to have 4 LAN ports. If you’re someone who needs more than one LAN port, wouldn’t you also want more than 4? In which case you’d probably be using a network switch anyway.

        1. 5-port gigabit switches are only $10-15. I don’t think people willing to spend $200 on a router are going to care about this minor additional expense. In fact, many of those willing to spend that much on a router, probably already have a switch.

        1. I would call that four. One is for connecting to the modem so I wouldn’t count it.

  4. If you’re comparing to a low end WRT54g clone, it’s overpriced. But the price isn’t too out there compared to similarly-speced devices. What I’m curious about is if the 6 antennas per band are laid out in something akin to a Xirrus array? Could be an interesting option for high-device-density locations, if it is.

    1. Though the flip side is, those similarly priced similarly specced routers already have all the features that Google is claiming make this special.

    2. D-Link makes a similar product but their firmware isn’t exactly easy to use or user friendly. As Brad mentioned try changing your SSID without jacking the whole thing up with most routers. This is why service provider router/gateways are very simple to use/navigate and most of time don’t need messing with. For all you with high end Asus and Nighthawk routers have no business through your narrow lens try to assume you know what most people want. Speaking from experience you are likely to suggest something that’s easy for you to use, but requires a sizable learning curve to somebody else.

      1. “For all you with high end Asus and Nighthawk routers…”. Haha, I usually go for the cheapest thing I can load OpenWRT/DD-WRT/Tomato Firmware on. Never spent more than $35 on a router. I’m also aware that I’m not the average user :-p. However, I think you may have misunderstood my comment: All I explicitly stated was that the price is not unusual for similarly spec’d routers, and asked a question about the antenna array. Never said anything about other products being better/easier/whatever.

        1. The cheapest thing to load DD-WRT on are usually slow, lack features, etc. You can do some shaping with WRT and enable some features but it won’t increase speed in most cases, it’s down to the hardware.

          Asus firmware is great.

          1. I’m sure experiences vary, but I’ve never had any problems maxing out my broadband connection with open-firmware’d cheapo routers. It could just be that my needs are simple: Basic QOS shaping, DynamicDNS updating, and OpenVPN support (and obviously the basics like DHCP & port-forwarding). Don’t need anything else extra; I use an old pc with wake-on-lan support for file, printer and app serving. It’s much more flexible & performant than any router, and doesn’t use much more power (sleeps when idle, and wakes up when needed).

            Anywho, that’s all besides the point. Going back to the original topic of discussion; yes, I agree that there is a market for premiumly-priced devices with simple setup and above-average hardware. There’s a reason Apple exists.

  5. Will be very interested to see the reviews on this. I know other routers play in this price range so if it’s a performer I guess it isn’t outrageous. Still it seems high priced to me at first blush. Also the idea of wireless management of my router seems scary. Though I suppose a lot of people don’t even have desktops any more.

    1. Even my crappy old router could be managed over wifi with my laptop. My new asus router also has mobile applications for platforms too incompetent to use the web page.

      1. Most routers can be managed over wifi if you enable it. Enabling it is generally seen as not-the-thing-to-do from a security standpoint.
        I can see this being great for lots of things though. I know more than one person these days with phones/tablets but not even a laptop in the house. The only reason their router setup wasn’t an issue is because somebody else set it up for them using a laptop. (It was me. I did it. hahahah)
        In the end I’m sure Google has given some thought to security. It’s just one of those things which my immediate reaction to is a long practiced ‘no’.

        1. Exactly! Most people’s provider router/gateways work because they didn’t set it up, somebody else did. I will be changing out the TWC gateway for one of the newer 3rd party Motorola Surfboards to get a few features not in the Motorola provided by TWC. I will say one thing about this Gateway it auto-detected my Windows Server and now I can access it away from the house, WEE! So much for my IT skills I could never get it work with AT&T 2 Wire Gateways…

          1. I dumped the TWC modem when they decided I should pay a monthly fee for it. Put in a Moto 6141 (think that’s right – off the top of my head) and it has worked great for quite a while now (knock on wood).
            I’m not accessing anything from the outside though so I’ve no idea if it would have issues with that.
            For my router I’m using a cheap-as-chips Rosewill (I think it is) I got for like $22. Has worked great for me. However I’m in an isolated area with no wireless congestion to worry about other than what I generate.
            Of course it doesn’t have the speed or multiple radios of what Google is proposing here so it is in no way a reasonable comparison if you need/want that higher speed or different spectrum for something.
            Mine streams Netflix/Youtube/HBO just fine and I can check my mail so – good enough for now.

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