One year after the launch of its Velop mesh router system, Linksys returns with a smaller and more economical model, with a big catch: it is also slower.
The new Velop units, announced for the first time in January, are available to preorder today with sales starting May 15 and will be sold in one, two and three packages, for $ 129, $ 199 and $ 299. That's much cheaper than the old models, which cost $ 200, $ 350 and $ 450 for those same quantities. As it is a mesh system, which uses several units of routers that work together to cover a house with Wi-Fi coverage, presumably you want at least two.
There is a substantial difference between the cheapest and the most expensive models. The cheaper models are dual-band routers, which means they transmit two wireless networks, while the more expensive models are tri-band, so they transmit three. That third band is not strictly necessary, it is only used so that the routers can transmit information between them. But having a dedicated communications band from router to router can allow for faster speeds.
That said, depending on the size of your house, how many devices you're connecting, and what you're doing with them, you may not need that extra speed. So, it is very possible that a dual-band model is good and saves you a lot of money. Dual-band routers support the latest Wi-Fi standard (802.11ac Wave 2), and can be used in conjunction with three-band models. They will only be available in white at the launch, but a black version will be released this summer.
Mesh routers systems have been taking off in recent years, and now almost everyone is taking advantage of them. Netgear took the same approach as Linksys, starting with two large tri-band models and later launching cheaper dual-band models. But most companies have gone directly to cheaper dual-band models, including Eero, which is really the pioneer of space, and Google, with Google Wifi.