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​OnHub: Google offers secure, easy-to-set up Wi-Fi access point

Google has gotten tired of insecure, hard-to-set up Wi-Fi access points so it's offering its own model.

Let's see. Set the DHCP range to to, check; point DNS to and, done; and Wi-Fi Analyzer tells me I'd be best off using channel 14 for my 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. OK, I'm ready to set up my router. What's that? Have I lost you? Well, if you too find setting up Wi-Fi access points about as pleasurable as a root-canal, you'll want to check out Google's newest hardware product: OnHub.

Simple, easy, secure: Google's OnHub Wi-Fi access point.
Why is Google getting into the home and small office/home office (SOHO) network business? Trond Wuellner, Google's OnHub Product Manager, explained that for far too many users getting Wi-Fi to work is time wasted on "unplugging and re-plugging cords, trying to decipher blinking lights, or contemplating a call to customer support." So, with Google's hardware 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."

Google proposes to ensure that OnHub is secure by automating updates. All too often fixed router security holes persist in the firmware because their vendors never bother to update out-of-date equipment. Even when the vendors do issue patches, clueless users and overworked network administrators don't go to the trouble of flashing old, but still working, Wi-Fi access points (AP). That way leads to security breaches but, as we all know, security is seldom anyone's job one.

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With the OnHub, the device simply won't run unless it's been updated with the latest and most secure version of its operating system. This is taking a leaf out of how Google updates Chromebooks. This feature alone makes the OnHub interesting for businesses even as Google is advertising it primarily as a consumer device.

The OnHub is also designed to be managed by Google On either Android or iOS programs or over the cloud. This means you can manage the OnHub even if you're hundreds of miles outside its Wi-Fi range.

While no benchmarks have been done yet with this device, it appears ready to deliver performance. The OnHub comes with twelve antennas: six 5GHz and six 2.4GHz. It also has a 2.4GHz reflector that acts like a radar dish to focus its signal to speed-hungry devices and applications. Besides that, it also has an antenna to personal area network's 802.15.4 and Bluetooth.

The device also supports not only the full-range of 802.11 Wi-Fi standards, 802.11b to 802.11ac, but it also supports Nest Weave, 802.15.4 and Bluetooth. In addition, the OnHub is constantly scanning the 802.11's family 2.4Ghz and 5GHz frequencies. When it detects that a channel is being overloaded, which means your performance will go down, it automatically changes to the least crowded channel.

Powering all of this is a Qualcomm IPQ8064. This is a Snapdragon ARM processor. It's backed by a GB of RAM and 4 GBs of flash storage. While Google won't talk about its operating system, it's suspected that it's built on top of Chromium OS.

OnHub is available for online preorder today at the TP-LINK store, the Google Store, Amazon.com and Walmart.com in the U.S. It will be widely available at retailers in the U.S. and Canada in the coming weeks. At the moment, the Google Store is reporting that the OnHub is out of stock. The suggested list price or OnHub is $199.99.

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