Wi-Fi dead spots are a drag. It’s no fun roaming all over your home, phone held high in the air while you try to catch a signal. A better plan is to increase the coverage of Wi-Fi in your house. It can make everyone’s life a little easier, particular in larger spaces.
I asked guest blogger Dave Ware to take on the challenge of testing out the new Linksys Velop mesh Wi-Fi system. -Erin
Linksys Velop Review
Linksys claims to have the answer to the modern problem of dropped Wi-Fi signals within the home. They’ve come up with the Velop system, which is essentially a series of high-powered Wi-Fi repeaters or nodes designed to keep your entire home covered with a strong signal. I set out to discover whether they’d actually done it.
Setting up Linksys Velop
Setup of the Velop was very straightforward. My 9-year-old was excited to help, and was able to install one of the nodes by himself. Basically, the first node is plugged in to a wall, and connected via ethernet directly to your modem.
Linksys recommends removing/unplugging your router first, though I’m not sure how realistic that is when people still use ethernet within the home.
Our Velop nodes were white, (they also come in black) and had a very clean look to them. They could be mistaken for a vase or bookend if one doesn’t look closely. The only sign of electronics is the wall plug, and a soft LED light glowing on the top.
We connected the first mode to our modem, and waited for the flashing blue light to become purple, as directed by the instructions. It went relatively smoothly, though I did end up hitting the reset button on the bottom of the node, as initially I didn’t see any flashing lights. After hitting reset, it immediately caught on, and was ready.
At that point, I downloaded the phone app, which walked me step by step through the rest of the setup—with pictures. With the first node installed, we moved to the main floor of the house, and installed the next node. It was the same as the first, except that the app also helpfully checked in with the second node to ensure signal strength.
I elected to place the last node in our garage. Our home’s Wi-Fi doesn’t reach that far, and it’s frustrating dead spot where I spend a lot of time, so I was looking forward to getting connectivity out there.
The app told us that the third node was just on the edge of being too far away, but the signal worked anyway. Victory!
Setting up a secure channel
The next order of business was to set up a dedicated Wi-Fi channel. This step was dead simple, and took only as long as thinking up a new name for it. The channel is secured by WPA2 encryption, making it nice and secure.
How is the signal with Linksys Velop?
Once everything was ready, (total setup time was about 15 minutes for 3 nodes), I wandered about the house and yard checking the signal strength.
Linksys claims the nodes can be 30-60 feet apart, and that one only needs 1 node for a house 2000 square feet or less. I found that the node signal was amazing while I was close to the nodes, but by the time I got all the way across the house from the node the signal was already down from full strength. In my opinion, you’ll want to place these in specific dead zones where you’ll be able to use them while you’re close by.
So how did it work in the detached garage? It didn’t meet up to my hope of having solid coverage in the backyard, and that was with 2 nodes only a wall away from the backyard. On the plus side, I didn’t lose the signal until I was a good distance from the house, further than I’d likely need to be.
Signal strength of Linksys Velop
I haven’t had any issues with the signal dropping or shutting down, and when I unplugged one of the nodes, it rediscovered the signal quickly and was back up in no time. I did notice that due to the daisy chain effect, when node 2 was unplugged, node 3 also stopped working (this might vary if your nodes are spaced such that 1 and 3 are still close enough to talk to each other). Linksys claims that the signal doesn’t degrade from node to node in the way that other Wi-Fi repeaters might, and that seems to be true.
Using the Linksys app: guest access and priority devices
The app allows you to control the Wi-Fi, providing or denying guest access, and you can prioritize up to three devices, giving them the lion’s share of the bandwidth.
Parental control with Linksys Velop
There are parental controls that will allow you to set up time frames for access on devices, as well as the ability to block certain websites.
Speed test with Linksys Velop
The app also gives you a speed check to test upload and download speeds. I was able to pull 177 Mbps on downloads and 12 Mbps on uploads. It also remembers devices that have been on the system so there’s no need to constantly reconnect.
The final feature I thought was a smart idea was a notification that tells you if any of the nodes are losing signal or not responding. The app really does a good job of taking most of the controls of a web based router and placing them conveniently on your phone.
Overall review of Linksys Velop mesh Wi-Fi
I noticed a slight increase in speed on my network, and there were no dropouts or lag that I could see, so this system seems like it would be great for families that might be spread out around the house, or people with a big distance between their router and the places they use their phones most. It held up to all the video and audio tests I set it to, having no issues streaming content from my Apple TV box, and holding up against multiple users in the house all streaming Spotify.
The 3 node Linksys Velop sells for about $600 (though prices do vary quite a lot), while a single node runs you about $300. For that price you might be able to find a router that would give you enough signal to replicate the Velop, but it strikes me that the Velop is simpler and easier to deal with, as well as being customizable to your specific layout. If I were in the market for a router upgrade, or had a weak Wi-Fi signal in the home, I’d seriously consider the Velop.
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