A GOOD WI-FI connection at home is vital, whether you’re working from home, remote schooling, or streaming Loki in 4K. A single router may be enough for some people, but others need a broader range to extend to every corner of the home and garden. Mesh Wi-Fi systems promise exactly that, combining a central router and several satellites or nodes to give you blanket Wi-Fi coverage everywhere.
Most mesh Wi-Fi systems can set you back several hundred dollars. Google’s Nest Wifi, for example, is $349 for a router and two nodes. That’s why the new Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi System is so intriguing. You can buy a single Vilo mesh router for $20. If you need more coverage, a three-pack is $60 and will purportedly cover a 4,500-square-foot home while providing connectivity for up to 120 devices. How good can a system this cheap be?
Setting up the Vilo system is easy. I was sent the three-pack, and each router in it is identical, so there’s no need to worry about which should be the main router. Pick one, plug it into a power outlet, and use the provided Ethernet cable to connect your modem to the Vilo’s WAN port.
Use the Vilo iOS or Android app on you phone to enter any login details required for your internet service provider. After that, just find suitable spots in your home for the other two routers and plug ’em in. The main router will instantly and automatically find and add them to the network. I placed one in the living room at the back of my house and the other upstairs.
Your gadgets will generally connect to the nearest router. A device like your phone will connect to each of them as you move around the house, but all this happens seamlessly. Each Vilo router also has two LAN ports for directly plugging in devices, which I use for my TVs and consoles.
The Vilo app is very straightforward. It shows each of your Vilo routers and lists the devices connected to them. There’s an option to set up parental controls on a per-device basis. I added my kids’ phones and scheduled internet downtime at night. You can also block specific websites here. And like most routers these days, there is an option to create a guest Wi-Fi network for any visitors (handy, now that people are actually visiting again).
The app’s usage report logs and displays how much data each device is guzzling over time, and you also have a way to restart the Wi-Fi network regularly on a schedule, which can solve recurring issues with connectivity.
I switched out a powerful Asus DSL-AC88U router that cost me $200, used, for the Vilo mesh system, so I was expecting a performance hit. I was pleasantly surprised. My connectivity on Vilo’s system has been stable and reliable.
Vilo says its routers support up to 867 Mbps on the 5-GHz band and 300 Mbps on 2.4 GHz. Sadly, the internet in my area is limited to around 30 Mbps, so I’m unable to test this. My house is also only about 1,600 square feet, but coverage feels similar to the Asus—slightly better in my garden with one router at the back of the house and slightly worse near the main router.