Home / Technology / $ 70 Mesh Wi-Fi System: Rest is actually good

$ 70 Mesh Wi-Fi System: Rest is actually good





CNN

The running speed of a reliable Wi-Fi system that blankets a house with a reliable internet connection can cost hundreds of dollars, and sometimes more. If Vilo, which admittedly was a company we had never heard of before this review, has its way, Wi-Fi homes at home are becoming very cheap. Like $ 69.98 for a three-pack Wi-Fi system. If you need more, look at $ 27.98 per unit.

For the last ten days, we have had Vilo running in our home office, and connected several devices to the wireless network. During our time testing, we did not notice too many hiccups or delays, which shows that Vilo has something here. But the system is not perfect. Let’s explain.

Who this is for: Vilo’s mesh system is perfect for someone who does not have a high speed internet plan, but they are struggling to get a reliable Wi-Fi connection in every corner of the home. It is affordable and easy to set up, and the app does not overcomplicate the management of your network.

What you need to know: This system lacks advanced features to manage the network, along with Wi-Fi 6 for increased Wi-Fi throughput, but that is to be expected with an entry-level mesh system. The app you use to manage your network has some frustrating bugs, but you do not have to spend a lot of time using it after your network is up and running.

Here’s how to compare: Our best choice for the best wireless Wi-Fi routers, the Eero 6, is currently priced at $ 279 for three devices. And it is one of the cheaper mesh systems we tested. The Velop MX4200 currently sells for $ 499, but also offers Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. When we look at prices for competing mesh systems, it quickly becomes clear how ridiculously low the costs for the Vilo system are. Eero, and for that matter the Velop systems, are for rooms with several heavy Internet users, while Vilo is intended more for rooms that can manage with a basic Wi-Fi system.

All Wi-Fi wireless systems rely on a number of access points to create a cover for your room. Each point sends a Wi-Fi signal and is in constant communication with the rest of the access points that are part of the same network to ensure that each connected device receives the best possible signal and speed.

When you go around your home using your phone to stream music, each access point will automatically provide the connection to which node your device will benefit the most from.

And because a network consists of multiple devices, you can create a much larger Wi-Fi network that will also be more reliable and provide better speeds.

Jason Cipriani / CNN

Vilo’s three-pack system throws a wide grid of 4,500 square meters, and each point covers 1,500 square meters. The units themselves are quite small and choose a rectangular building that reminds us of the Wyze Cam Pan or a miniature version of the Linksys Velop MX4200.

The front of each unit has an LED indicator light and a small button. That button is used to get online, while the light gives you an overview status update based on the light color.

The back of each mesh point is slightly busy and starts with a pinhole for a reset button to factory reset each unit. There are also two LAN ports, a WAN / LAN port and a power button. The ports are used to provide internet to the Vilo network on the main node (more on this in a moment), or to connect a nearby device to the Vilo network via an Ethernet connection. Everything quite convenient.

Vilo’s design is minimal and does not take up much space, and even if you are limited to a white house, they will not distract from the home decor, even if you have to place one of the access points on an end table.

The whole setup took under 20 minutes. You need to download the required iPhone or Android app before connecting any of the Vilo devices to power. The app not only acts as your means to control all aspects of your network, but it also guides you through every step of the installation process.

As expected, the necessary steps, including a connection to the router and power, scanning a QR code on the bottom of the device and creating the wireless network. Adding the second and third access points to the network is even easier. You just need to connect them and wait for them to find and connect to the newly created network.

It is quite convenient for the mesh points to connect automatically, but it only works if you use Vilo devices out of the same box. If you bought a total of four devices, it will work on the three that came in the same box, and connecting to the fourth access point requires a little more work. You need to connect and press the mask button on the front, which then lets it find and join your network.

Vilo recommends placing each unit within 30 meters of each other, but we have ours located a little above that area and have not had any problems. Your experience will certainly vary, depending on what kind of obstacles – such as walls, appliances or furniture – are between each mesh point.

This is without a doubt one of the simplest network layouts we have tested thanks to all the devices that are already connected and ready to connect to each other. Other systems require you to use the app to add more mesh devices to your network, extending the time it takes to get the system up and running.

Jason Cipriani / CNN

We hesitate to recommend the Vilo system to a household that routinely has several people streaming 4K videos, playing online or doing other bandwidth-heavy tasks. This system is just not built to handle that kind of work. It’s best to think of the Vilo Mesh layout as an entry-level Wi-Fi system that will expand coverage and provide a more reliable connection, but it will not impress with heavy bandwidth.

We ran several speed tests, only once did we see the results break 100 Mbps second when we were connected to Vilo’s network, and that was immediately after the restart of the Vilo main node. Otherwise, it was on average over 90 Mbps. We are also testing Wi-Fi 6 compatible Plume SuperPods right now, and during the same speed test that broke 100 Mbps, SuperPods hit speeds above 560 Mbps.

Although Vilo’s test results were nowhere near the speeds of our current Wi-Fi 6 system, over 90 Mbps on a speed test is still more than fast enough to play, stream 4K video on YouTube or participate in a Zoom call.

In fact, the MacBook Pro was automatically connected to the test network one morning when we had many Zoom calls, and we noticed no difference at all. Only after the last call when we went to switch networks, did we realize that we had been connected to the test network all the time.

Each Vilo device is equipped with 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios that are compatible with Wi-Fi 802.11ac. If this is nothing but gibberish for you, just know that 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios are designed to spread the connected devices across multiple bands, which will help eliminate delays on your network. In the case of 802.11ac, the Wi-Fi standard for non-Wi-Fi 6 devices is capable of transmitting and receiving data at impressively high speeds.

Although the Vilo system is not Wi-Fi 6 compatible, Vilo states that it is capable of handling 300 Mbps over the 2.4 GHz radio, or 867 Mbps over 5 GHz. Our home has a 1.2Gbit (1,200 Mbps) connection from our ISP, so the speed should have been achievable for the Vilo system.

Jason Cipriani / CNN

The Vilo app as a whole – when you are past the layout – feels both slow and unfinished. When you receive a notification that a new device is being detected on your network, the notification will not come quickly. It may take a few minutes to even show that a new device is connected to the app itself. This is a feature every Wi-Fi system should have, and so we are glad that Vilo included it – just not with the implementation.

Another problem is updating the firmware. Each time we are asked to update, the app has told us that it failed as the progress bar reached 100%. Just for us to return to the home screen, and the app tells us that there is no update available anymore. Why? Because the update was actually successful.

It’s a basic app that makes sense, but it’s also buggy.

Vilo seemed like a network setup that was too good to be true. $ 20 per node? Get out of town. Especially.

It surprised us with reliable and steady performance. And they’re obviously targeting the system at someone who won’t pay to rent a Wi-Fi setup from their service provider, while increasing overall coverage.

We would say that the Vilo system is ideal for an average person who does not need large amounts of bandwidth to accommodate multiple 4K streams, online games or countless smart home devices. If your Wi-Fi network acts as a means of working from home and entertaining, the Vilo system is more than capable of enhancing your overall experience.


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