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Google re-invents the Wi-Fi router

Google is introducing a Wi-Fi router that it says will provide more reliable coverage in more areas of the home and be easier to use than other long-established competitors.

Preorders for the $200 cylinder-shaped router, called OnHub, can be made at Google's online store, Amazon.com and Walmart.com. It will go on sale in stores in late August or early September.

Google teamed up with networking device maker TP-Link to build OnHub. The router will achieve speeds of up to 1900 megabits per second, the companies say.

Trond Wuellner, a Google product manager, said Tuesday that he expects most people will be able to set up OnHub in three minutes or less. The router is designed to be managed with a mobile app called Google On that will work on Apple's iPhone, as well as devices running on Google's Android software.

The most striking thing about the OnHub is the way it looks. It doesn't have wires and antennas poking out from every side; it's outer shell is removable, and will come in various colors to suit an owner's room. (Initially, it is available only in blue and black.)

Google sought to make the router pretty enough to sit out in a room, a boon to connection. Hiding a router behind closed doors or underneath a TV degrades the signal. "We discovered that when you put a router on the floor versus on the shelf, the one on the shelf performs twice as well as the one on the floor," Wuellner said.

The OnHub has 13 antennas inside, 12 for casting signal and one for measuring congestion on your network. The device's software is constantly monitoring channels and frequencies, making sure you're connecting in the most efficient way.

OnHub also will adapt to the evolving needs of its owners because its software will be regularly updated to unlock new features, according to Wuellner.

Initial reaction to the router on techie websites is very positive. "Rejoice: Google just created a stupidly simple Wi-Fi router,'' writes David Pierce at wired.com.

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