Google’s latest gizmo—the OnHub—promises a new way to Wi-Fi. But is this just a router? Or the prophesied future hub of an automated home? We dove in to see if the OnHub does more than just what’s on the tin.
With a boatload of antennas, elegant design, and a huge speaker (of all things), this is like no router you’ve ever seen. There’s certainly experimental tech in here. But the speaker is just a speaker, not the Echo's magnificent sound chamber. And the lack of microphones makes us wonder if the real home automation hub might happen in the upcoming ASUS version. Specs aside, do we think the OnHub was on-point in repairability? Not quite. And that’s why we gave it a 4 out of 10 on the repairability scale.
Google OnHub Teardown highlights:
• Tucked just beneath the speaker grille, we find the highly anticipated congestion-sensing antenna.
• Once inside, there are 14 antenna cables—that's one more than we expected, what with OnHub’s advertised "13 antennas (six 2.4GHz antennas, six 5GHz antennas, and a congestion-sensing antenna)." A little careful sleuthing finds the extra antenna is included for the upcoming 802.15.4 ZigBee networking support.
• The OnHub’s 3-watt speaker uses ultrasonic tones to configure Android devices running Google's companion app. Without any volume controls or obvious microphones, it seems this Hub isn’t destined to be a music machine.
- Hardware on the Hub: • Qualcomm Atheros IPQ8064 Internet Processor with 2 Krait 300 CPUs clocked at 1.4 GHz • Micron MT41K256M16HA 512 MB DDR3L SDRAM • Micron MTFC4GACAAAM 4 GB NAND flash • Qualcomm Atheros QCA8337 • Qualcomm Atheros QCA9882 • Qualcomm Atheros QCA9880 • Silicon Labs EM3581 SOC network co-processor for ZigBee • Skyworks 66109 2.4 GHz ZigBee/Smart Energy front-end module • Skyworks SKY2623L 2.4 GHz WLAN power amplifier • Skyworks SKY85405 802.11ac 5 GHz WLAN power amplifier • Atheros 3012-BL3D Bluetooth radio • Micron 25Q064A 64 Mb SPI flash • Infineon SLB9615 Trusted Platform Module • National Semiconductor LP5523 programmable 9-output LED driver
This was just the short, short version of the teardown. You can see the full teardown on iFixit.com. Also, check out Annalee Newitz's great article on the OnHub teardown over at Gizmodo. It was her personal OnHub that we sacrificed upon the teardown table. Thanks, Annalee!