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I never thought that I would get excited about a router, but Google’s OnHub wireless router has changed my mind. The Asus SRT-AC1900 OnHub that I received is a dual-band 802.11ac MIMO Wi-Fi router with speeds up to 1900 Mbps. This might sound like a normal high-end router, but the OnHub is not your average router.
It looks nothing like the normal rectangular router with lights, ports, and pointed antennas. Instead it is a black cylindrical device that is about 5” around and 8” tall. It is slightly larger at the bottom where a status light beams out in the front.
Google has designed the OnHub to look good in the center of the home. This is a good, but currently idealistic notion. I would love to see this router sitting on an end table in the living room. Like all routers, however, the OnHub must be hooked up to the modem and currently most homes, including mine, have the modem wiring in an obscure corner of the house.
Google’s futuristic design is also apparent in the fact that the OnHub has only two Ethernet ports, One LAN and one WAN.
Certainly our future will contain mostly wireless devices, but right now we still have many wired devices. In my home I have two computers, a Philips hub, and an Ooma which require a wired connection to the router. The solution is simple. Just add a six-port switch. Easy to set up and easy to use. Unfortunately this set up does take you back to the wires and lights that the OnHub was designed to eliminate.
In spite of the fact that my OnHub is not in the center of my home and has a switch with several wires attached to it, I love it for the other futuristic features that it includes.
Instead of being setup and controlled by a computer, the OnHub uses a free app called GoogleOn. There is a version for both Apple and Android phones and the app has accessibility options in that it supports both TalkBack for Android and Voice Over for iOS.
Following the instructions in the app made the setup extremely easy. When completed, the app showed me exactly how many and which devices were attached to my network.
My old router had recently become overwhelmed requiring me to reset it several times a day. I quickly found out why my old router was choking. The OnHub told me that I had 12 wireless devices attached and not all of my wireless devices were turned on.
The OnHub was able to correctly name ten of these devices and I was able to insert the names of the other two devices. OnHub also shows the amount of activity for each device.
I was very pleased with the coverage of the OnHub. Its intelligent array of seven antennas in a 360-degree arrangement was able to reach even the far corners of my home. A smart antenna algorithm in the router automatically selects the best combination of antennas to use for each device. Asus says that that the selected power amplifiers and the fine-tuned radio frequency design delivers wide wireless coverage in any direction. I can attest that the coverage was better than any other router I’ve tested. The OnHub also has congestion-sensing antenna which searches for the least-crowded channel also helps to optimal performance.
This Asus OnHub also has wave control which lets you simply wave your hand over the top of the router to prioritize traffic. You can even set the time the priority will last. You set the priority in the app and can also control it in the app as well as by a wave of the hand. This feature is pretty useful if you have a problem with having enough bandwidth for a certain device. For instance, if you want to stream a movie on the Xbox, you can give priority to the Xbox for two hours ensuring that you can watch the movie without Wi-Fi problems.
I also enjoyed the network usage display in the app which shows the average upload and download speeds as well as daily usage graphs. You can also easily monitor the speed of your network
You cannot get into the nitty-gritty of the router to tweak settings as you can for most other routers, but for the most part you don’t have to. This router was created for the average user who never looks at the router settings and who is happy to have a router that works simply and easily.
The best part of the OnHub router may be what is yet to come. Google promises that they will add new features with automatic updates like Amazon does with the Echo. Since its release, Google has added support for Guest Wi-Fi with an innovative On.Here interface which lets guests connect easily and lets the owner decide which devices guests can use. Google has also added support for IFTTT.
As you may know, I love IFTTT and use it every day. I never heard of a router with IFTTT, but I was able to visualize applications quite easily. For instance, you could get an email whenever a new device connects to your OnHub or be notified when your teenager gets home because his or her cellphone connects to the OnHub.
ASUS is known for making some of the best routers. This one is no exception. The OnHub’s hardware also shows plenty of support for additional features. This router has an unused USB 3.0 port and Bluetooth and 802.15.4 radios which are currently turned off. It also has a light sensor, a 3W speaker and 4GB of built-in storage. That gives the Google technicians plenty to work with. I can’t wait to see what comes next. This is truly an exciting wireless router that is geared to the future.