Tech Reviews

Linksys Velop Dual-Band Mesh Routers Review

Wi-Fi is Simplified thanks to the Velop Dual-Band

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When Linksys released the Velop Tri-Band Mesh Router system earlier this year, the up-front cost of switching over to the sleek new design was a bit high for some users. The Tri-Band system was powerful, quick to install and easy to manage, but the $199 starting price for a single node was a hurdle for users that didn’t need a Tri-Band system. Now Linksys offers a Dual-Band option, and the new model is launching at a much lower cost on May 15th. The new Dual-Band configuration still maintains many of the fantastic features that won over critics earlier this year, including Intelligent Mesh, advanced parental controls, website blocking, Amazon Alexa compatibility, and connections through the Linksys App, but the Dual-Band system is smaller and less expensive.

The new Dual-Band option is a minimalist dream that you can setup in your home or apartment in just a few minutes. The best part is the price, with starter packs launching today, starting at just $129. Even the advanced pack, which offers three-towers, is just $229. For comparison, the Tri-Band bundle of three towers costs $449. The Tri-Band option is more expensive because it’s much more powerful, but as we said before not every household needs a Tri-Band system. The Dual-Band Series (AC3900 Wi-Fi speeds) is designed for basic Internet plans, or anyone with up to 100Mbps speeds in the home. If your home or apartment is under 4,400 square-feet (pretty much all of us living in New York) this is the option that was made just for you. The Dual-Band Velop series ships in three configurations (Single Tower, Dual tower, or a Trio of Towers for maximum coverage) and you simply place the small towers throughout your domicile to blanket your dwelling in Wi-fi.

Unlike traditional routers, mesh routers have unique features to maximize connections. Users are able to easily customize who-and-what can connect to their network, and mobile apps make managing your connections easier than ever. While I describe them as “towers,” they are technically called nodes. All of the nodes on your network work together as a single Wi-Fi system, one that will provide optimal wireless connectivity throughout your home. Each of the Velop nodes itself is a Dual-Band AC1300 device, and it can act as a parent node or client node to deliver Wi-Fi.

Individual nodes may be connected wirelessly or by Ethernet for the fastest, most reliable connection. If you have an Amazon Fire TV or a Roku you’ll probably want to go wired, but you can just as easily connect via Wi-Fi. It’s important to note that even though you have multiple nodes throughout your house, this is all just one network. That’s why this isn’t just a simple router with repeaters. Just like with a traditional router, you will have one network name and just one password to remember. This is one of the major benefits of the mesh router system. If you have a traditional router, and some network extenders to kill the dead-spots in your Wi-Fi coverage, you know that you have to connect to each extender and that extender’s network. Sometimes the “hand-off,” or switching from one network to another, is problematic, and it’s not the best system anymore. None of that happens when you have a mesh router system, all of your devices connect to the one network broadcast, and the mesh routers do the work. It’s seamless, and it makes moving your devices around your home, or adding new devices to your network, much easier.

The device will also make sure that you have the best connection possible, whether you choose to go wired or wireless. This is all done with Linksys Intelligent Mesh Technology, an evolution in home Wi-Fi engineering that combines Linksys software and hardware to deliver Wi-Fi via the fastest path to the internet. All of this is to give you the best experience possible. Intelligent Mesh Technology helps provide better speed at distances, improved client handling between nodes, and dynamic improvements to back-haul to always ensure the best connection to the Internet.

As we mentioned earlier, each node is really a Dual-Band AC 2×2 802.11ac Wave 2 with MU-MIMO radio configuration, they offer combined speed up to 1300 Mbps. Each node is built to connect with each other over Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet, or even a combination of the two. You don’t have to tech-savvy to take advantage of this option, the nodes auto configure and will work with the best option on whatever setup you choose to use. This means you can have wired/wireless configs throughout your home, and Linksys will always choose the best option to communicate with the network and other nodes.

If you are having trouble with the technical side of things, the app will be your best friend. Since the placement of each node is so critical, during the setup process Velop will recommend the best placement to reduce latency, maximize throughput and improve range and signal strength. You’ll be walked through the best place to set your nodes and you can rest assured that you are getting the best performance from your new hardware. You can also count on automatic software updates, making sure your devices have the newest features and the best security patches.

These devices were designed to seamlessly blend into any decor as they offer you Wi-Fi signals. Linksys will also be shipping new wall-mounts to make hiding your devices even easier. Linksys told us that those devices are expected to start shipping later this summer, but third-party options are already available on Amazon. Each of the nodes work together to keep your connection optimal even as you move about the house. As you move from room to room, your internet connection won’t skip a beat or change networks, but you will start communicating with the optimal node near your location. The nodes also make sure that all of your devices are on the optimal channel, so that your network workload is spread-out evenly. This way no one gets bogged down, even when others on your network are streaming videos or playing video-games.

“Velop is now the most flexible whole home mesh WiFi system on the market,” said Justin Doucette, senior director of product management at Linksys. “We have a Velop offering that fits any home or small business environment as well as options for different broadband service packages to deliver the best WiFi experience for all the devices on the network. Our new Velop Dual-Band provides the price for performance that customers are looking for plus all the intelligent software and security features that continue to be updated for real time access to the latest enhancements.”

You can also upgrade or add new nodes down the line. Not only is Velop compatible with any ISP modem or gateway, the Dual-Band and Tri-Band nodes are 100% interoperable and interchangeable. This means that anyone can join the mesh router upgrade process, it doesn’t matter if you have Comcast, Fios, Spectrum, or AT&T U-verse. As we mentioned earlier, you can fully control the Velp system through an online app, which is available on iOS and Android devices. You can take a quick glance at who is currently on your network and there are a ton of parental controls that you can use. You can set “bedtime” hours for users, and for their devices. You can shut down internet access on your kids’ gaming console after 7pm if you wanted, or shut down internet access to phones and tablets after 9pm when everyone should be getting ready for bed. You can set these functions whenever you like, or set a weekly schedule so you don’t have to manage it daily.

Alexa is also invited to the party. You can have Alexa learn your wi-fi password, so it’s always available when guests, babysitters, or family members come over and need to get on the network. It’s also great for when you are setting up a new device and don’t feel like running into the other room to get the password. You can stop taking pictures of your Modem, Alexa has you covered.

Linksys Velop Dual Band

So you may be asking yourself if you should jump into the mesh router system now that it is more affordable. The answer depends on your network. First of all, if you do pay for internet speeds above 100Mbps, you should get the Tri-Band option. If you are under 100Mbps, and you are frequently having connection issues with your Wi-Fi, the mesh router system is a fantastic upgrade. Looking back at your network experience over the last year, try and remember if you have the basic issues that mesh routers fix.

If you have had issues with video-streaming when other users are playing games or watching videos; or if you notice connectivity issues when everyone is home and the number of devices on your network skyrockets, then you should consider the mesh system. If you used extenders in the past to blanket your home in Wi-Fi, and found that mobile devices have a hard time jumping from one connection to the other as you move about, that is another reason to do mesh routing. You shouldn’t be restarting your modem or router frequently, and you your network should run itself without any input from you. If you find yourself manually changing networks from an extender, or resetting the modem when things seem sluggish, your network isn’t working as intended and it might be time to jump on the mesh router system.

If you have great Wi-Fi already, or if you need USB connections to your router for backups or media, then you can wait this one out. With the exception of some new technology coming out over the next year, mesh routers will most likely become the standard devices in most homes. They are easy to manage, do all of the heavy lifting within the network, and are becoming more and more affordable. If you’re not a power-user that needs to set custom VPNs or DNS settings on your router, you will most likely be making the switch at some point in the future.

You can find the Linksys Velop Tri-Band system on sites like Amazon.com, and the Dual-Band system launches on May 15th.

Review overview

Price9
Performance9
Design9

Summary

9While small details like USB connections may be a dealbreaker for some users, the Velop Dual-Band system offers mesh WI-Fi at a comparable price, all with amazing app support and features.