A year after the launch of its Velop mesh router system, Linksys is back with a smaller, cheaper model, with one big catch: it’s slower, too.
The new Velop units, first announced in January, are available to preorder today with sales starting May 15th and will be sold in one-, two-, and three-packs, for $129, $199, and $299. That’s a lot cheaper than the old models, which cost $200, $350, and $450 for those same quantities. Because it’s a mesh system, which uses multiple router units working together to blanket a home with Wi-Fi coverage, you’ll presumably want at least two.
There’s one substantial difference between the cheaper and more expensive models. The cheaper models are dual-band routers, meaning they broadcast two wireless networks, whereas the more expensive models are tri-band, so they broadcast three. That third band isn’t strictly necessary — it’s only used so that the routers can relay information between each other. But having a dedicated router-to-router communications band can allow for faster speeds.
How many bands do you need?
That said, depending on the size of your home, how many devices you’re connecting, and what you’re doing with them, you may not need that extra speed. So it’s entirely possible that a dual-band model will be just fine and save you a lot of money. The dual-band routers support the latest Wi-Fi standard (802.11ac Wave 2), and they can be used alongside the tri-band models. They’ll only be available in white at launch, but a black version will launch this summer.
Mesh router systems have been taking off over the past few years, and now just about everyone is getting in on them. Netgear took the same approach as Linksys, starting with two large tri-band models and later releasing cheaper dual-band models. But most companies have gone straight to cheaper dual-band models, including Eero — which is really the space’s pioneer — and Google, with Google Wifi.