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Google’s OnHub Wi-Fi Router Gets A Sibling

Google’s OnHub Wi-Fi router is getting a companion.

The $219 Asus-made OnHub will join the $199 OnHub made by TP-LINK and launched in the summer through Google and retailers. The new model is expected to be available by mid-November.

The Asus model adds the ability to boost the Wi-Fi speed of a pre-selected device by waving a hand above the router instead of going through Google’s OnHub app. The app, available for iOS and Android, is designed to simplify setup, management, troubleshooting and picking a device to prioritize.

Both models will also operate as a home-automation hub when the company activates built-in Bluetooth Smart and wireless 2.4GHz 802.15.4 mesh-network technology. Google hasn’t said when it would activate the technologies.

The OnHub routers already incorporate the Thread home-automation standard and will add the proprietary Weave home-automation standard as a firmware update at some point as well.

Thread was developed by The Thread Group, led by Google-owned Nest, to run on an IEEE 802.15.4 wireless network to ensure devices will connect wirelessly to one another. It’s promoted as delivering more security and reliability than the ZigBee and Z-Wave standards for home automation.

Thread is Nest’s proprietary applications layer, providing the command protocols to carry out commands over a Thread network. Multiple home-automation companies plan to support Thread and Weave.

The hubs, equipped with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, are designed to look good out in the open, where they work best, rather than in a closet, Google said. The hubs were also designed to boost speed, range and reliability through a variety of means, such as a circular array of antennas and special antenna reflectors that boost range.

In the coming week, Google will roll out its first OnHub software update with several performance improvements, including a new smart antenna algorithm that will select the best combination of antennas to direct Wi-Fi to devices based on their location and orientation, the company said.

Both models feature 1GB RAM, dual-core 1.4GHz CPUs, and simultaneous 2.4GHz/5GHz operation to accelerate speeds to 1.9Gbps.

Both have tapered cylindrical shapes, but the Asus model barrows at the top, while the T-LINK model gets wider at the top. The Asus model will be available in gray; the TP-LINK version comes in blue or black.