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Circuit Breaker

Linksys releases a cheaper version of its Velop mesh router

Linksys Velop dual-band router Image: Linksys

Linksys launched its Velop router line this time last year, and now, it’s announcing the line’s first expansion: a new model that’s smaller and cheaper — but a little bit slower, too.

The Velop line is Linksys’ entry into the surprisingly buzzy world of mesh routers, which ask owners to put multiple units around their home to build out one bigger, stronger network than a single router could create.

Like some of its competitors, Linksys’ initial routers were all tri-band — that is, they had three lines of wireless connection that they could use to talk to other router units and connected devices. Most typical routers are dual-band, and it turns out that adding that third band is expensive and makes devices a lot larger.

So the new Velop unit is a dual-band router, which looks to be a couple inches shorter than the original model, which really stood out at 7.3-inches tall. Linksys hasn’t announced pricing for the new units yet, but for context, a single unit of Netgear’s dual-band mesh router sells for $50 less than the tri-band model. A single Velop sells for $200.

It’s an obvious and necessary expansion for the Velop line that ought to help it get into more homes. The big downside is that speeds are going to be slower and the router is going to worse at handling large numbers of devices. But that’s not necessarily something every home needs, so a lot of people may not notice the difference.

The dual-band Velop is supposed to launch sometime this spring. Linksys also says it’ll be releasing parental controls and some other software features that ought to improve stability and speeds.