So I talked about my Google WiFi experience a couple of weeks ago, here's some more updates from having a bit more experience with it.
Notably, I got my fourth unit, and what remains the real bright spot with Google WiFi is the easy setup. Adding the unit to the network was truly trivial, and when I then plugged it into ethernet at my office, things "Just Worked(tm)".
That's what I like to see.
That experience also just reinforced my opinion that these mesh systems really should be able to mesh both wirelessly and over ethernet - the wireless mesh is great for the trivial cases and for easy setup, and the wired mesh is what makes it so good to expand on the system and get to places that would otherwise be unreachable or cause unnecessary extra wireless hops.
So I continue to be a fan. I don't think I ever want to deal with a traditional wireless router again (but I'll make a separate post about using the Ubiquiti system in more challenging environments).
Small details that have cropped up in the meanwhile:
As with every system before, I did end up having to make dhcp address reservations for the printers after all. Without doing that, discoverability is just too flaky. I'm sure the whole PnP experience works for some people without it, and maybe it's the particular printers I have, but giving the printers a static IP address just helps with all those situations where they otherwise don't seem to be discoverable.
This isn't specific to Google WiFi, and the App makes it fairly easy to do. But it would be more natural to do it when looking at the device in the network overview screen, rather than having to go into "Settings" and "Advanced networking".
What I'm left missing (and nobody else seems to do that either) is to add a new DNS entry for the device when I do this. The dhcp names are good as they go, and the DNS client on the router does the right thing with them, but having a printer named something like "HP874661" is not exactly a human-friendly name.
In fact, the IP address is easier to remember than the odd dhcp name. So I'd like to be able to add a "office-printer" DNS alias when I assign the IP to the device (or even without assigning an IP to it - some things are fine to leave as dynamic addresses, but you might still want to have a local name to reach them).
And on that note:
Like a number of other fancier routers, Google WiFi does traffic tracking, and let's you name your devices so that it's easier to see exactly which device does what (so you can have "Linus' Pixel Phone" instead of some ambiguous "Andoid-2" device). This isn't the DNS alias I'm asking for, but it makes it much easier to read the statistics. Good.
And what I found interesting was how much more useful this was when you just carry your phone around with an App, rather than having a web interface on your computer. I've used routers with per-device network statistics etc before, and I've named the major devices before, but Google WiFi made it really easy to just walk around and see "ok, that name refers to this piece of equipment" and give them all more useful human-legible names.
As a result, I ended up naming everything, including things like my Rachio sprinkler controller etc. Things that I've never bothered with before, because it was just not very convenient. Walking around with a phone I could just go to the kids and say "ok, show me your phone settings screen so that can tell which IP is your phone".
So the "configure everything on your phone with the App" clearly has some secondary convenience advantages. I'd have liked to be able to filter devices (by IP address and by which unit they were connected to), but even without that, the app just made some things much simpler.
However, I do note that not having a traditional web interface at all then makes the "what the hell was the printer called again" problem much worse. If I'm at the kids computer, configuring the printer setup, and I don't have my phone with me, I can't just look it up on the router config web page on the same device that I'm trying to configure the printer on.
So you win some, you lose some.
But that issue made me really want those DNS aliases, because it's so hard remembering what IP address you picked for the printer, or what the crazy dhcp name for the printer was. Let me just call it "office-printer" or something.