Linksys unveiled a new addition to its Velop mesh Wi-Fi lineup with a dual-band model that will also get a boost with new software called Intelligent Mesh.
Last year, Linksys launched the Velop Wi-Fi mesh system at CES, and has followed that up with a newer version at this year’s show. However, this isn’t a successor. It’s a dual-band version of the tri-band original, meaning it doesn’t have the same specs.
This dual-band version is a 2×2 Wireless-AC (802.11ac) at a combined speed of 1300Mbps. It will also have MU-MIMO built-in, and each node will be 2-inches shorter than the originals were.
It seems like a big step back compared to the power of the previous model, but this is largely meant for users who want wide, consistent coverage without the need for more bandwidth capacity. For example, if you’re paying for a lower speed from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) relative to the faster tiers they offer, a dual-band system like this would make more sense.
Linksys says little will change in system setup, including administering it via the app on iOS and Android. No in-app features will be missing, either.
One exception is that the tri-band model has Zigbee built-in, a wireless protocol many smart home products use to communicate. The dual-band model won’t, but there is a way around that.
One key tidbit to this announcement is that the previous tri-band and newer dual-band nodes are interoperable. If you want to expand your current mesh, you can do it with one of the new nodes. If you get a dual-band system, you can add a tri-band Velop node to it and get its built-in features.
In looking to add some automation to how mesh Wi-Fi works, Intelligent Mesh is designed to improve performance without much know-how. The idea is to keep the Wi-Fi connection consistently steady and maximize throughput wherever, and whenever necessary in the home.
The company has broken this down into four “pillars” it says the software is based on.
Self-Organize speaks to the system’s modularity, both in the interoperability I noted above, and the way in which it supports both Wi-Fi and wired back-haul. It should also come as no surprise that it works with any modem from your ISP.
Self-Optimize refers to how the Velop monitors signal strength and speed between nodes to boost the Internet connection. This will evidently work through a patent-pending Spot Finder technology that kicks in during setup to optimize both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands and channels.
Self-Healing is, like its namesake, a contingency plan wherein the system reconfigures itself anytime a node goes offline. Using Channel Finder on the app is another will scan for a better channel to clear up network congestion.
One Network keeps it simple by using one network name, one password and one admin password.
The plan is to add to these throughout the year. New parental control features will let parents to override allowing or blocking access, along with website content filtering. Security features will include some monitoring for malware, viruses, phishing attacks and malicious websites.
Client Steering will be better at keeping a device connected to the closest node. That way, there’s no confusion between two nodes on who should hand off to who.
If you already have a Velop system, you will get these new software updates as they roll out over the course of the year.
The Linksys Velop Dual-Band Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System will be available in one-pack, two-pack and three-pack this spring. Check out my review of the Linksys Velop for more on how the system works.