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Normally a three-node mesh network system would cost you hundreds of dollars. This new one from Vilo is just $70. (Photo: Vilo)
How's the Wi-Fi in your house? When you take your laptop into certain rooms, does internet performance plummet? When you're watching Netflix, does video stutter or look grainy? Issues like these can result from poor Wi-Fi signal strength — kind of like when your phone is too far from a cell tower and gets only one or two bars.
Installing a mesh Wi-Fi network can help; it boosts signal strength beyond the immediate area around your router. However, these kits can be extremely expensive: You'll pay anywhere from $200 to as much as $700 for products from Asus, Eero, Google and Nest.
Good news: a newcomer to the mesh market has a kit that costs considerably less. Even better news: It works quite well. It's not the fastest or fanciest, but it's definitely the cheapest — and it might be just what you need to give your home Wi-Fi a shot in the arm.
I'm not going to dive too deep into the tech side of things, because I suspect most people don't care about "dual band," "Wi-Fi 6" and the like. You just want faster, more reliable Wi-Fi throughout the house, right? And simple setup and operation?
Done. The Vilo system is pretty much plug-and-play, relying entirely on a phone app that walks you through each step. Basically, you're going to connect one node to your modem, then plug in the other two elsewhere around your house. In a two-story, for example, you might put one upstairs and another in the basement.
My hands-on experience with Vilo actually comes from my nephew, who encountered major Wi-Fi dead zones in his house. His verdict after two weeks with the mesh system: “Life-changing. Five stars. [The] dashboard is pretty cool. Setup was super-easy. It auto-restarts once a week at 4 a.m., which I thought was neat.” (Restarting a router periodically is a smart way to clear out the gunk, so to speak, and make sure it's operating optimally.)
Needless to say, your mileage may vary. There are lots of variables that can affect Wi-Fi strength in a home or apartment.
But if you want to see whether a mesh network can make a difference, $70 is a pretty palatable price to pay.
What do you think? Share your Wi-Fi woes in the comments section below!