Google has been promising a second OnHub router from Asus ever since announcing the first model from TP-Link in August.
Now, that Asus router is official, and it’s not much of a departure from the original (which is not what we predicted in our review of TP-Link’s OnHub router). Like that model, Asus's interpretation will deliver the same AC1900 speeds and is squarely aimed at novices, not home-networking enthusiasts. The main difference is that the Asus OnHub supports a wave gesture that can boost wireless throughput to one particular device.
Apparently, the device to be boosted must be identified in advance in the router's firmware. So if your kid is downloading a Torrent, your wife is surfing the web, and you're watching a movie on Netflix (and you've given your home-theater PC or streaming box most-favored-device status in the OnHub's firmware), waving your hand over the router will give that device higher priority.
Interestingly, Google is now touting the TP-Link OnHub as having a “front-facing antenna reflector for greater range in that direction.” Google didn't mention this at all in its original OnHub announcement back in August.
Aside from those distinctions, the Asus router is taller and wider, but about 0.24 pounds lighter, and its wider base has a tri-color LED instead of an ambient light ring on top. The specs for both routers are otherwise identical, featuring 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a single ethernet port, 4GB of flash memory, 1GB of RAM, and a 1.4 GHz dual-core CPU. Why all that power? Google’s big selling point is that it will upgrade the router over time, even supporting various smart-home protocols that haven’t been activated yet. To that end, Google says a software update is coming this week to improve its smart antenna algorithms.
Google hasn’t given a release date for the Asus OnHub router, but it’ll cost $220 when it goes on sale. TP-Link’s version is available now for $200.
The impact on you at home: To be honest, we expected that Google would try to cover a greater price range or deliver higher performance with its second router partnership. Instead, the new OnHub offers mostly the same internals and just a slightly different design, though it’s certainly possible that Google could unlock new gesture controls over time with the Asus model. For now, users who want advanced features such as USB storage, printer sharing, guest networks, and more should continue to look elsewhere.
Google tells us they have a limited number of review units and won't be able to honor every request, so we may or may not have an opportunity to evaluate this new version of the OnHub in the coming weeks.
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