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We have seen a plethora of mesh networking devices in the past one years, and now we are heading into the next generation of this technology. Linksys' Velop made use of high-speed tri-band routers that offers high speed for your new Wi-Fi network, but it came at a hefty price, especially for people who did not have a large area to themselves.
With the new line of Velop Mesh WiFi systems, Linksys aims to provide a more affordable solution for smaller homes. The system still takes the fundamental approach, using two to three identical routers that the company likes to call 'nodes' in different areas throughout the home.
Users can connect these nodes to build a mesh network which is capable of covering a large area, offering a more stable Wi-Fi signal compared to your conventional router. Let's find out whether you should buy one for your home in our review:
• Wi-Fi Mesh Connectivity for Seamless Wi-Fi and Simultaneous Streaming
• Wi-Fi AC1300 (867 + 400 Mbps) with MU-MIMO
• 2.4 GHz radio - 400 Mbps
• 5GHz radio 1-867Mbps
• Simultaneous Dual-Band
• IEEE 802.11b/g/n - 2.4 GHz - 256 QAM support
• IEEE 802.11a/n/ac - 5 GHz
• Beamforming - Beamforming for 2.4 GHz and 5GHz bands
• Roaming technology
• 716 MHz Quad Core
• 256 MB Flash and 256 MB SDRAM
• Two Dual-Band antennas and high powered amplifiers
• Two auto-sensing Gigabit Ethernet ports for WAN and/LAN connection
• WPA2 personal wireless encryption
• 3.1 inch Square base
• 5.5 inch from top to bottom
Similar to the larger variant, this one is also available solo, or in multi-unit packs. Each node is around six inches tall, and has an uncanny resemblance to Apple's AirPort routers, just with a more edgy design.
On the top, you'll find small circular vents along with a status LED that assists the user during the setup process, and is an easy way to check on each node's status in a glance. The power toggle and the reset button is housed on the underside. Both Ethernet ports and the power input can be found around the back.
Having only LAN port feels a bit restricted, making it an obligation for a standalone Gigabit Ethernet switch for anything beyond the basic setup.
Setting up a Velop system was very smooth. You just have to download the Linksys app, and it automatically detects the nodes to be set up. The app offers an animated setup guide explaining the full setup process and includes Spot Finder technology for best placement.
Users can connect the second and subsequent nodes with taps in the app. The Linksys app also serves as a tool for network administration. Download and install the Linksys app on any iOS or Android smartphone. Launch the app, and the on-screen instructions will guide you the rest of the way.
Each Velop node has an integrated Bluetooth radio to talk to your phone, making the setup process secure and simple. While you can set up Velop over WiFi, Bluetooth proves to be a better option.
After the setup is done, a blue light indicates that the device is connected to the internet, while the red light indicates it is out of range, and yellow means the connection is weak.
The Velop Dual Band costs nearly half the price of its tri-band precursor, but still offers an impressive performance, where the BT routers struggle to deliver. Each Velop node is a Dual-Band AC 2x2 802.11ac Wave 2 with MU-MIMO radio configuration with combined speed up to 1300 Mbps.
To determine the difference, we put the Velop Dual Band through our usual set of tests. First, we placed the nodes across our office, keeping one next to the modem, the second one at the other corner of the office, and the third in a different bay of the office.
After the installation, we tried downloading a small file while sitting near the router, away from the node, and other places. The download process was swift with the 14MB/sec speed, which is actually slower than what you get from the regular Velop but is still enough to take advantage of a fast internet.
However, we saw a drop in the speed when we actually started roaming around the office. Away from the node, it offered a mere 6MB/sec. The speeds fell even further when the device was taken to other places like the washroom, or the conference room. It seems the 5GHz signal from the Dual-Band nodes wasn't enough to go through the walls of our office.
This is something you won't have an issue with the bigger variant. This also makes the connected device to fall back to the slower 2.4GHz band. And, if you plan on using a 5GHz connection, you might be disappointed, as the software doesn't allow band splitting.
Additionally, the Velop works well with Amazon Alexa. It includes custom Amazon Alexa "skills" that can turn the guest network on/off and read back the credentials of both the main and guest networks. The system automatically monitors for updates and apply new software that brings new features, a resolution to security vulnerabilities, and improved performance as they become available.
Users interested in Velop routers might have a tough time choosing from the options. You have two different models, which further have one, two, and three packs of each of them. Unless you are someone who owns a house bigger than 4500 square feet or an internet connection that churns out more than 100Mbps, the AC3900 could be a good alternative.
The Velop Dual Band offered good speeds, with powerful signal and easy setup and installation. The pricing would still be on the higher side if we compare it with the other present in the market, but it does ramp up the quality as well.
Overall, the Velop Dual Band qualifies as a decent performer that offers a reliable network upgrade for places that find it hard to get a good Wi-Fi signal. Also, it costs much less than the Tri-band variant.
If you are someone planning to get the Velop, you can get it via Linksys authorized channel partners. The 3-pack system would cost you Rs 21,999, while the 2-pack and 1-pack systems will be selling for Rs 14,999 and Rs 7,999 respectively.