Routers are pretty boring to write about, but every once in a while I’ll make an exception, as is the case with the new Vilo mesh Wi-Fi system.
Why? Because it’s dirt cheap and stupidly simple to set up — and I mean that in the best way possible.
Each access point costs $20 bucks ($28 with shipping), and each individual unit is rated for coverage up to 1,500 square feet. The company sells the units individually, or as a 3-pack of units ($69 with shipping) that are automatically paired with one another. Each unit is identical, so you don’t have to worry about picking a ‘main’ unit to connect to your modem.
With a disclaimer that I haven’t put the system through extensive long-term testing yet, I can tell you the basics: it took me less than five minutes to go from unboxing to having a working wifi-network with three mesh units. The additional units automatically connected to my new network, even after I changed the network name. I have not had any network issues since.
This isn’t a full review, but honestly, that’s all I really need from a router. I’m not doing anything crazy on it, I just need an internet connection that supports 4K streaming and the occasional gaming experience without a hiccup. That was the case here.
Despite the low price, it was the easiest setup process of any router system I’ve used, including the far more expensive Google Nest Wifi (that includes a voice assistant, but for this price you could just get add a Google Home Mini to the Vilo system and still save money).
I also appreciate that despite being fairly compact, each unit has three gigabit Ethernet ports ( though one is used to connect to your modem on the main unit), making it easy to have a ‘semi-wired’ connection should you want to connect your desktop via Ethernet or want an extra layer of reliability during an important meeting. Other features notable features accessible through the app include:
- Parental controls
- Guest networks (which can be made temporary)
- New connection alerts
- Data usage reports
They’re all very simple to use and set up.
Look, this isn’t a mesh system you get if you want the latest and greatest technology or a laundry list of features. It’s using Wi-Fi 5 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac) as opposed to Wi-Fi 6 or 6E, (802.11ax), so you’re limited to a ‘measly’ theoretical top speed of 867 Mbps (realistically more like half of that).
You might want a faster router if you’re on Gigabit internet or additional futureproofing, but for the vast majority of people, the newer standard is overkill. Vilo is also stuck on good old WPA2 security protocol instead of the fancier WPA3 protocol, but again, WPA2 is just fine for most people.
I suspect those limitations are far from dealbreakers for most people. Unless you have unique performance requirements — or something breaks during my extended testing — I’m more than happy to recommend the Vilo system. It’s cheap, and it just works. What else do you really need?