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Linksys Velop Plug-In Review: Reliable but Overpriced Plug-n-Play Mesh

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The Linksys Velop Plug-In AC4800 (model WHW0203P) is the third revision of Belkin’s popular Velop Wi-Fi system. It’s a mashup between the 2017 original tri-band Velop and the Velop Dual-Band that came out earlier this year, with a twist. Instead of three identical units, it includes a main tri-band Velop router and two plug-in mesh points.

In testing, the new system delivered about the same coverage as the Dual-Band but with clearly Wi-Fi faster speed. Other than that, its features, setup process, and mobile app remain the same.

In all, if you’re looking to cover a large home with reliable Wi-Fi, the Velop Plug-In is a safe bet. Just make sure you have plenty of power sockets around the house. Oh, a deep pocket helps, too, since its suggested retail price of $400 (for three units) is no chump change.

The Linksys Velop Plug-In includes two Wi-Fi mesh points that are designed to plug directly into a wall socket.
The Linksys Velop Plug-In includes two Wi-Fi mesh points designed to plug directly into a wall socket.

Linksys Velop Plug-In: What’s with the name?

The way Belkin calls its Linksys Velop systems can be confusing. Initially, the first system is called Velop. It’s a tri-band system with each unit (out of three identical ones) being a tri-band router. Later on, Belkin released the Linksys Velop Dual-Band, of which each unit is a dual-band router.

Now with the Linksys Velop Plug-In, well, there’s a new naming convention. The networking vendor has opted for the AC designations and called the new system Velop AC4800. The reason is it includes a tri-band AC2200 router and two wall plug AC1300 satellite units (nodes). Here’s the math: 2200 + 1300 * 2 = 4800.

The problem is there’s already another Velop AC4800, which includes a tri-band router and two non-wall-plug dual-band nodes. To make matter worse, most of these systems are also available as a single router or a set of two units. Also, since all Velop units (of different sets) can work with one another, you can mix and match them to create even more Velop combos.

The table below somewhat breakdowns the current state of different Velop systems:

Fancy NameReal NameWhat it isBottom line
Velop AC6600The original Velop (A)Three identical units. 
Each is a tri-band router: 
Two 867Mbps 5GHz bands 
and one 400Mbpz 2.4GHz band
Fastest Velop system with dedicated wireless backhaul. 
Minimum signal loss in a wireless setup. 
Option to use network cable as backhaul. 
Large coverage of up to 6000sf (560 m2)
Velop AC4400The original Velop (Two Pack)Two identical units. 
Each is a tri-band (A) router: 
Two 867Mbps 5GHz bands 
and one 400Mbpz 2.4GHz band
The same as above but with less Wi-Fi coverage.
Velop AC3900Velop Dual-Band (B)Three identical units. Each is a dual-band router: One 867Mbps 5GHz band and one 400Mbhz 2.4GHz band.No dedicated wireless backhaul. 
Mediocre Wi-Fi speed when used in a wireless setup due to heavy signal loss. 
Option to use network cables as backhaul 
to deliver a similar rate as the original Velop.
Velop AC2600Velop Dual-Band (Two Pack)Two identical units. 
Each is a dual-band (B) router: 
One 867Mbps 5GHz band 
and one 400Mbpz 2.4GHz band.
Same as above but with less Wi-Fi coverage.
Velop AC4800Mashup between (A) and (B)Three mixed units.
One tri-band (A) router 
and two dual-band (B) nodes
Large Wi-Fi coverage, no dedicated wireless backhaul. 
Slow Wi-Fi speed in a wireless setup due to signal loss. 
Option to use network cables as backhauls.
Velop AC4800Velop Wall PlugThree mixed units. 
One tri-band (A) router and 
two new dual-band nodes 
designed to plug into a wall socket
Large Wi-Fi coverage, no dedicated wireless backhaul. 
Slow Wi-Fi speed in a wireless setup due to signal loss. 
No option to use network cables as backhaul.
Linksys Velop Wi-Fi Systems 101

And by the way, the full name of the new system is Linksys Velop Mesh Wi-Fi Plug-In WHW0203P AC4800. It’s a mouthful, so for the sake of simplicity, I’ll call it Linksys Velop Plug-in from now on.

Linksys Velop Plug-in: Convenient but awkward design

There’s not much to say about the main router unit of the Velop Plug-in. It’s the same as any unit of the original Velop. It takes a cylindrical design with two Gigabit network ports on its underside.

These are auto-sensing WAN/LAN ports. You plug one of them into an internet source — such as a cable modem –, and it will work as a WAN port. And now, the other port will work as a LAN port to host a wired client.

The Linksys Velop Plug-in satellite unit (node) is a bulky two-prong plug-in device with no network port at all.
The Linksys Velop Plug-in satellite unit (node) is a large two-prong plug-in device with no network port.

What’s worth talking about is the plug-in satellite units. They don’t have any network ports, which means you can’t use a cable to connect them to the main router — there’s no wired backhaul option — nor can you connect a wired client to them.

Secondly, considering the satellite units are dual-band, there’s no dedicated backhaul band, which translates into a large amount of signal loss. There’s no way around that. In other words, devices of the same or faster Wi-Fi standard connected to one of these units will have at least half the Wi-Fi speed compared to when connected to the main router.

RELATED: All you need to know about Wi-Fi mesh systems.

I also have issues with their physical size. These are bulky adapters that will for sure block access to adjacent sockets when plugged in. That plus the fact they have no pass-though socket means you will likely lose more wall sockets than the ones they occupy.

Yes, the plug-in units are convenient to use but only when you have plenty of wall sockets around the house. Otherwise, it will be tricky to find suitable locations to place.

Linksys Velop Plug-in: Hardware specs

Model nameLinksys Velop Mesh WiFi Plug-In 
WHW0203P AC4800 System
HardwareOne tri-band AB2200 router 
and two dual-band AB1300 wall plug satellite units
Dimensions (each unit)Tri-Band Router: 3.1 x 3.1 x 7.3 in 
(7.87 x 7.87 x 18.28 mm) 
Wall Plug Node: 3.05 X 2.1 X 4.7 in 
(7.74 x 5.33 x 11.93 mm)
Network standardsIEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, 
IEEE 802.11ac, IPU4, IPU6
CPUQuad-Core 716MHz (each unit)
Wi-Fi specsRouter: AC2200 
(Two 867Mbps 5GHz bands + One 400Mbps 2.4Ghz band) 
Wall Plug Nodes: AC1300 
(867Mbps on 5GHz band + 400Mbps on 2.4GHz band)
MU-MIMO supportYes
Antennas (each unit)Tri-Band Router: 6 antennas and high-powered amplifiers 
Wall Plug Nodes: 3 antennas and high-powered
amplifiers.
Ports (each unit)Two Auto-sensing Gigabit network ports
MSRP$399.99
Warranty3 years
Linksys Velop Plug-in’s hardware specifications.

Linksys Velop Plug-in’s detail photos

Linksys Velop Wall Plug 8
The Linksys Velop Plug-in’s retail box.

Linksys Velop Wall Plug 1
The mesh system includes the main router and two plug-in satellite units.

Linksys Velop Wall Plug 4
The Linksys Plug-in satellite unit is relatively compact.

Linksys Velop Wall Plug 2
The Plug-in unit has a two-prong plug on its underside.

Linksys Velop Wall Plug 3
And a tiny status light on top.

Linksys Velop Wall Plug 6
The light changes its color to show the mesh satellite’s status.

Linksys Velop Plug-in: Easy setup

Setting up the Velop Plug-in system is like that of the Velop Dual-Band but faster. Since the original Velop, Belkin has made many improvements to the mobile app and the firmware.

That said, all you have to do is to install the Linksys mobile app on your phone (or tablet) and follow the instructions. Every step worked as intended in my trial, and there was no hiccup at all. I finished setting up all three units in less than 10 minutes.

In addition to the Linksys mobile app, the Velop Wall Plug shares the same web interface as that of previous Velop systems.
In addition to the Linksys mobile app, the Velop Wall Plug shares the same web interface as previous Velop systems.

Remember that using the mobile app also means you’ll need to log in via an account with Linksys. Consequently, this means your home network is connected to the vendor’s server at all times, which can be a privacy risk.

Linksys Velop Plug-in: Familiar feature set

The Velop Plug-in, like the Dual-Band before it, shares the same feature set as that of the original Velop. You can customize your home network with all standard settings, including but not limited to Dynamic DNS, port forwarding, IP reservation, and so on. However, it doesn’t have advanced features like real-time protection against online threats or a VPN server.

To make up for that, its Parental Controls works well and effectively, being able to block any websites you want, including secure sites (YouTube, Facebook, etc.). The QoS feature, which prioritizes Internet traffic, works well and is easy to use.

Like earlier systems, the Linksys Velop Plug-in can also work in access point mode — or Bridge mode as Belkin calls it — allowing the system to work with an existing router or gateway as part of one seamless home network. You’ll lose the mesh’s features and settings mentioned above in this mode, however.

Linksys Velop Plug-in: Performance

The Linksys Velop Plug-in performed well in my testing.

First of all, its main AC2200 router — which, again, is supposedly the same unit used in the original Velop — gave me a pleasant surprise. Just by itself, the router delivered fast speed and long range, much better than when I first experienced it with the original Velop back in January 2017.

As it seems, over the past almost two years, Belkin has invested a lot in improving its Velop systems, assuming the hardware has remained the same. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the original Velop to re-test.

Linksys Velop Plug in

The satellite units performed as expected. I tested them in the star topology, and there was indeed signal loss. Even when I put the satellite unit close to the main router, I couldn’t get the client to connect to it at more than half of the speed compared to when the client connected to the main router. This type of performance is typical for a system with no dedicated backhaul.

But even with the signal loss, the system worked out well. I used the three units to cover some 6000 ftΒ² (560 mΒ²) of residential settings (half of which is open space) with Wi-Fi speeds faster than 75Mbps even at the furthest corner.

I came up with the numbers on the chart with the satellite unit at precisely 41 feet away from the main router. Keep in mind that you can move the satellites closer or father to get faster Wi-Fi speed or broader coverage. Also, Wi-Fi speeds vary greatly depending on the environment, so your mileage will likely differ from mine.

The Linksys Velop Plug-in also proved to be reliable. I continuously used it for more than a week as my primary Wi-Fi system and didn’t run into any trouble. It also didn’t disconnect even once.

Linksys Velop Plug-In AC4800 Mesh Wi-Fi System's Rating

7 out of 10
Linksys Velop Wall Plug 8
Performance
7 out of 10
Features
7.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
7 out of 10
Value
6.5 out of 10

Pros

Large and reliable Wi-Fi coverage

Easy plug-and-play setup

Convenient mobile app

Cons

Expensive, no dedicated backhaul band

Wall plug units are extremely bulky and without a pass-through power socket

Not as fast and feature-rich as similarly priced mesh systems

Conclusion

This new Linksys Velop Mesh Wi-Fi Plug-In WHW0203P AC4800 system is meant to be somewhere between the original tri-band Velop and Velop Dual-Band, and it turned out to be precisely that. If you only need Wi-Fi to share an average residential Internet connection, the system will work out well.

However, there are faster alternatives with more features that cost less, such as the Asus Lyra Trio, the Netgear Orbi, or an Asus AiMesh router combo. These systems might not be as easy to set up at first, but they offer a lot more for your money. At the least, none of them requires an account with the vendor to work well.

For this reason, consider the Velop Plug-in, but know that you’ll spend a lot more for convenience.

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4 thoughts on “Linksys Velop Plug-In Review: Reliable but Overpriced Plug-n-Play Mesh”

  1. Wow, it shows that I haven’t been keeping up with the router marketplace. I only remember Cisco bought Linksys, but I didn’t know that Cisco sold Linksys to Belkin. I think I still have Linksys WRT54G v1.0 somewhere in my storage closet… Does Linksys quality go down after Belkin’s acquisition?

    Reply
  2. Hi Dong, one more: “The Linksys Velop Plug-In AC4800 (model WHW0203P) is the third revision of Belkin’s popular Velop Wi-Fi system”. Is it really Belkin’s Velop? πŸ™‚

    Reply

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