Review: Linksys Velop wifi mesh network

Flexible domestic wifi system delivers performance boost at prices starting at €299.99

The Linksys Velop system delivered an improved wifi signal and faster downloads.

Product name: Linksys Velop

Price: €299.0

Where to buy: www.apple.com

Website: www.linksys.com

Thu, Jan 25, 2018, 05:35

   

How is your wifi? Fast and covering your entire house or a bit slow with some black spots? Does your tablet refuse to connect in the spare room? Does your smartphone fail to get online when you walk into the kitchen?

It’s frustrating when things don’t work how you expect. But before you start investing in powerline kits and range extenders, maybe you should consider the Linksys Velop system. Apple has just given it the thumbs up by listing it in the Apple Store, the first third-party product of its type that has made it in. So with that in mind, I’ve been putting it through its paces.

The first question is the most obvious: what’s a wifi mesh network? It’s a way to blanket cover your home in wifi using nodes. Each node will take the network coverage and push it out a little further, making sure you don’t have any blank spots or dead zones. They are relatively easy to set up, and once you have it all configured how you like, it generally requires little to no intervention. All of which makes it sound like a very good idea for most people.

But they’re not for everyone, for one main reason: cost. If your wifi speeds are adequate and you can live with the odd weak signal here and there, you can get by without one and never miss it. But if you need strong, consistent wifi – and I do – then mesh networks like Velop are a good bet.

Setting it up is simple. It’s controlled via the Linksys app, linked to a Linksys account and accessible to a certain extent outside your home.

There is one network name for the entire system, no matter how many nodes you have plugged in, which means no messing about with passwords and network IDs.

Choice of packs

One node will cover about 2,000sq ft of your home, depending on the layout of your house, how thick the walls are and so on. You have a choice of a two pack or a three pack, depending on how big your home is – the kit I tested was a triple pack of nodes.

One node is plugged in and connected to your wifi router with an ethernet cable. The others can just be plugged into the wall and switched on, and connected to the mesh network through the app.

The effect was instantly noticeable. Not only did the wifi signal improve, it was faster for downloads. There’s a speed test within the app, but for this review I used a third-party service called Ookla. The Velop network was consistently faster than the wifi signal from the hub installed by my broadband provider. That was true even after I connected several smart home devices, two smartphones, a laptop and two tablets to it.

Aside from set-up, the app gives you a significant amount of control over the system. You can see how many devices are connected at a glance and set some as priority for internet access. Up to three can be chosen and these devices will always get the best access when they’re connected to the network.

Parents take note: you can easily block certain devices or restrict their internet access according to a schedule, and blacklist sites for individual tablets and smartphones.

The good:

Wifi speeds were noticeably faster and the connection was more consistent. It dropped only once, and that also coincided with an issue with the router’s signal. So it’s probably safe to draw assumptions from that.

The not so good:

As far as wifi add-ons go, it’s expensive. Is better wifi really worth that much to you?

The rest:

You can keep adding nodes to cover your property, or cut it down to a couple. The system has also been future-proofed with the inclusion of a zigbee radio that will be turned on in the future when it is required.

The verdict:

Great for delivering consistently fast wifi, if you’re willing to pay for it.