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Google OnHub Review

WiFi was never as complicated as it is today and the ignorance of the hardwired lifestyle is to be appreciated. Personally I have owned a number of different firewall-routers going back to an Intel 56KB modem router; through many d-Link, TP-Link, Linksys, Apple. Now I'm the owner of a Google firewall router that is manufactured by TP-Link.

I'm not certain who did what part of the package, however, I recently read an article where Google is no happy with it's Nexus vendor(s) which is why they brought the Pixel-C under Google manufacturing. Who knows?

I watched a demo of the OnHub and I was immediately impressed. Not because the packaging looked like it was from Tiffany's but because it was said to have 16 antennas and one high performance directional. (My house is concrete and steel with metal studs. It's practically a Faraday cage. Second the software was described as advanced and feature-full... or some such.

While all that seems kitsch there are still plenty of warts:

  • The packaging is nice compared to current standards. I suppose it's meant for housewives(color recognition) or the less technical as techies might not care much about it. I don't.
  • The box indicates that there are setup instructions. There were none, however, once the app is installed all was revealed.
  • Since I was replacing an existing installation I decided to use my existing cables. Normal flex/tension gaskets around the typical Ethernet cable make it difficult or impossible to install the cover.
  • The documentation indicates that one should put the OnHub in a prominent place. On the one hand that makes sense so you can see the status color ring. On the otherhand it's stupid because most of the problems that the OnHub is supposed to solve are related to placement, power, and performance. Placement requires, access to power, the wired internal network, the external modem. None of these things are going to be in the "prominent" place in the home.
  • When the placement of OnHub is above eye-level it's impossible to see the status ring.
That was just the physical stuff. Now comes the software.
  • The setup was pretty painless
  • missing some features
  • couple of miscues but nothing terrible
  • some of the more complicated or edge case features have weaker interfaces
Customer Support:
  • on the phone within 2 minutes
  • answered all of my questions
  • she was just a little distracted in her environment
  1. guest networks are in the project plan
  2. directional antenna is opposite of the wiring
  3. actually 13 antennas
  4. cover is not required for airflow
I also offered a feature request: What about a Chromecast puck-like device that would provide a remote OnHub status. I suppose this could also be a WiFi bridge but my place is not that big.

UPDATE: One thing that is missing... MAC white and black lists so that you do not have to change your password in order to recover your network. Actually having dual passwords for the primary network would be very useful so I could rotate passwords without disrupting all of the users.

UPDATE:  I'd like to be able to name a device that did not provide a proper DHCP hostname. And guess what... no static IP addresses or set DHCP addresses.

UPDATE: my Tivo did not work. It uses the wired network but would not change it's DHCP address. I remember that there was a menu option but could not find it.  There was also an option to RESTART the Tivo but that too was absent (it's in HD mode now with a different menu tree). So I just unplugged the Tivo an all was good when it restarted.

UPDATE: This morning when I woke up the internet was down. I know that because the OnHub android app told me so, however, the status ring on the device was teal indicating that things were ok. This is essentially the same problem I was having with my Apple extreme router. I'm not sure when things went south but they did. My internet was fine when I went to sleep the night before and most of our devices were sleeping except one.  The family MacBook running a sync process for the new iCloud Photo Library. I rebooted the hub and put the mac to sleep... the OnHub app indicated that the macbook was consuming about 1.1GB per hour. The conclusion is that there is something that iPhoto is doing that is corrupting the network at a very basic level. There is a post on the apple discussion boards.


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