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Wireless Reviews

Setup

Section by Craig Ellison

Like most other DWS on the market, setting up the Linksys Velop is very simple. The entire setup process is done using an iOS or an Android application on your mobile device, with four main steps:

  1. Download the Linksys App
  2. Connect to your Modem
  3. Name your Wi-Fi Network and create password
  4. Place nodes throughout your home

It really is that simple. Just a note: The setup process uses Bluetooth for device discovery, so Bluetooth has to be enabled on your mobile device. Linksys also provides a short tutorial that walks you through the process.

When you finish setting up, there will be only a single network name (SSID) for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks, which is standard for DWS. The gallery below gives you a feel for the setup experience. I've omitted screenshots for naming the network and entering the Wi-Fi password.

Features

Section by Craig Ellison & Tim Higgins

Like other DWS products, Linksys has pared down features for the sake of simplicity. In our review of the first Wi-Fi mesh system, the eero Home Wi-Fi System, I took a list of typical AC1200 class router features and edited it to show the supported features. Features with strikethrough text aren't supported. I took that same list of features and updated it for the Linksys Velop and there were only a few features that were different. Here's the updated list:

Routing

  • Static and Dynamic IP, PPPoE, PPTP and L2TP
  • IPv6 WAN connection (native IPv6 only)
  • DHCP Server, range setting, lease time setting, and default domain
  • DHCP Client list
  • MAC address cloning
  • MTU Adjustment
  • DHCP reservation (by setting LAN Static IPs)
  • Bridge Mode (bypass NAT router)
  • Port forwarding for single ports or port range with TCP, UDP or both forwarded. (No pre-configured services) Enable/disable for each entry.
  • Port Range Triggering (no pre-configured apps)
  • Port filtering – can set individual or range of incoming ports. Allows you to enable or disable TCP and UDP ports on network devices.
  • Four level priority-based download QoS control. Bandwidth rules list based on IP or MAC address, port range and protocol
  • DMZ Host
  • UPnP enable/disable
  • Can set up to three "priority" devices that receive more bandwidth
  • Total and per device bandwidth monitor, real-time, last hour, last 7 days, and last 30 days
  • Internet up and downlink speed test
  • DDNS support for Dyndns (www.dyndns.org)
  • NAT enable/disable
  • RIP 1/2 dynamic routing
  • Static routes

Security

  • VPN Passthrough enable/disable for PPTP and IPsec
  • DoS (denial of service) enable/disable
  • Enable UDP Flood filtering (with settable threshold)
  • Enable TCP-SYN Flood attack filtering (with settable threshold)
  • Ignore Ping Packet from WAN port
  • Secure remote management via iOS and Android apps
  • Ability to control multiple Velop systems
  • Wi-Fi MAC filtering (Allow or Deny applies to all filtered MAC addresses)
  • URL filtering (applies to all users, HTTPS not blocked)
  • Internet access control - Rule based access control for host (domain name or IP address)
  • IPv6 firewall

Wireless features

  • WEP, WPA / WPA2 Personal and Enterprise (RADIUS) support
  • One SSID for entire wireless network
  • Guest network
  • 4 guest wireless networks per band
  • Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) support
  • Auto and manual channel set
  • SSID broadcast enable/disable
  • Enable/disable wireless
  • Beacon interval, RTS threshold, Fragmentation Threshold adjustments
  • Wireless MAC address filtering (allow or deny based on MAC address)
  • WMM disable
  • Short GI disable
  • Wireless access schedules
  • 5 GHz Wireless modes: a, a+n, a+n+ac (default)
  • 2.4 GHz Wireless modes: b, b+g, b+g+n (default)
  • 5 GHz channel width 20MHz/40MHz/80MHz
  • 2.4 GHz channel width 20MHz/40MHz
  • 5 GHz channels: 36, 40, 44, 48, 149, 153, 157, 161
  • 2.4 GHz channels: 1-11
  • Transmit power adjust, 15%, 35%, 50%, 70% and 100%
  • Wireless network bandwidth use per client

Storage features

  • SMB file sharing (no user accounts)
  • FTP server. Can set port and control anonymous FTP and anonymous write protection. No secure FTP
  • DLNA media server

Velop doesn't support disabling its NAT router and running all nodes as access points. So if you're happy with your current router's features and are just looking to improve your Wi-Fi, Velop can do it, but will separate devices connected to it from devices connected to your router.

IPv6 is supported, but for native IPv6 only with DHCP connection type only. Selecting DHCP connection type will obtain both IPv4 and IPv6 IP addresses.

The other "feature" worthy of note is that Velop doesn't depend on cloud services for network management tasks like managing backhaul links and channel selection. The only things Velop depends on Linksys' Smart Wi-Fi cloud service for are remote management, event notification and setup.

As noted earlier, all setup and configuration functions are performed through the latest Linksys app, which has been updated to handle Velop as well as Linksys' other Smart Wi-Fi routers. You can also manage almost all features remotely. The exception I found was that you couldn't manage/configure the WAN connection.

Linksys by default directs you to set up a Smart Wi-Fi account with them to manage Velop. But you can get around this by clicking the Log in with Router Password link on the login screen. If you haven't yet set up a router password, you'll be directed to do that by entering a code on the internet-connected Velop.

Linksys Velop login options

Linksys Velop login options

If you've used a Linksys "Smart Wi-Fi" router, you'll be familiar with the way the Velop app is organized. When you first log into the Linksys App, you land at the Dashboard, which gives you a quick snapshot of your system. The screenshot below shows Velop connected to the Internet with two active devices connected. The most likely items that you'd want to control are also listed. Here's a brief description of each:

Linksys Velop dashboard

Linksys Velop dashboard

Wi-Fi - You can change the Wi-Fi password, access Advanced Wi-Fi settings or connect a device to Velop using WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Service) using a virtual pushbutton or PIN. You can also email, text or copy the Wi-Fi password.

Guest Access - In this menu, you can enable/disable Guess access, change the guest network name, and change the guest network password. Guests using guest access will be able to connect to the Internet, but will not have access to any resources (shared folders, printers, etc.) on the home network.

Parental Controls - Parental controls are very basic. You can manually block an individual client from Internet access, or you can block specific sites. Linksys mentioned parental control scheduling, but I didn't find that feature in the Linksys app. Perhaps that will be in a future firmware upgrade.

Device Prioritization - You can select up to three devices (from the known client list) for device prioritization. Those clients will get more bandwidth than the others, but you can't control bandwidth by client. As the help file indicates, the prioritized clients get the best access when connected, and the other clients share leftover capacity.

Tapping on the menu icon in the upper left corner of the dashboard opens up the complete menu system shown below.

Linksys Velop Menu

Linksys Velop Menu

As you tap each item, another menu opens with expanded options. For example, if you tap on Devices, a list of active and inactive devices appears. From the device menu, you and enable/disable device prioritization, parental controls, and reserve the current IP address using the Reserve DHCP function.

Several features are worth noting:

Channel Finder - Under Wi-Fi Settings, Advanced Settings, there's an option named Channel Finder. If you run Channel Finder, Wi-Fi access will be temporarily disabled while Velop searches for the optimal channel configuration for the network.

Linksys Velop Channel Finder

Linksys Velop Channel Finder

Speed Test - Velop includes a built-in internet speed test. I've run it multiple times with mixed success. I've also run it using a remote network. The screenshot below shows the Speed Test results. The Results screen warns that using multiple devices, you may run into slow speeds and buffering. When the test runs, the results returned appear to be accurate.

Linksys Velop Speedtest

Linksys Velop Speedtest

Velop Administration - This menu lets you check the status of each of your Velop nodes. If a node is offline, troubleshooting information is presented to help you get the node back online. This menu also lets you enable Automatic Firmware Updates (enabled by default).

Advanced settings - This menu lets you configure your Internet connection, configure port forwarding and port triggering, and configure Wi-Fi MAC filters. For port forwarding, you can forward an individual port or a range of ports, but no services (such as HTTP) are pre-configured. For Wi-Fi MAC Filters, you can either allow or block based on the MAC address of selected clients.

The gallery below provides a fairly complete walkthrough of most of the Linksys Velop features not already discussed. The general takeaway is Velop's feature set should be enough to satisfy its intended audience; folks who don't get their kicks from futzing with router settings.

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