This $100 Mesh Router Might Be a Good Reason to Finally Upgrade

Illustration for article titled This $100 Mesh Router Might Be a Good Reason to Finally Upgrade

Take a moment to count all the gadgets that connect to your home’s wifi network and it will soon become obvious why it doesn’t feel as fast or reliable as it used to. A mesh network with multiple access points can help alleviate an overtaxed wifi network, and for the first time you can finally make the upgrade for less than $100 with TP-Link’s new Deco W2400 kit.


Available exclusively from Walmart (at least for the time being) the Deco W2400 is not the most powerful whole-home wifi solution currently available. It includes two nodes which TP-Link claims are enough to thoroughly blanket a 3,000 square foot space and connect up to 100 devices at once, but it’s limited to being just a dual-band AC1200 system, so if you have a lot of internet hungry devices (i.e. streaming boxes) connecting to the W2400's faster 5GHz network, you might see a bit of a performance hit. It also lacks the gigabit ports included with TP-Link’s comparable Deco M4 kit, so homes with gamers might want to splurge a little more for something with more connectivity options.

It’s not terribly surprising that there would be some feature trade-offs to get a mesh wifi solution below the $100 price point. But while a traditional wireless router is probably still the better bang for your buck if you live by yourself in a cramped bachelor apartment, the addition of a second connection point to share the wireless burden should go a long way to improving internet speeds and reliability in a home with multiple residents each relying on several connected devices. The hardware also automatically connects devices to either its 2.4GHz or 5GHz networks, so you don’t end up having to figure out which access point will work best for a given device.

If you haven’t upgraded your wireless hardware in a few years, TP-Link’s Deco W2400 kit might also be a good opportunity to try out the massive improvements made to getting wireless networks up and running. Instead of relying on a browser to access the router’s settings through its IP address, an iOS or Android app puts a polished face on the entire process. It even includes tips on where to position the two nodes for optimal wireless coverage, as well as easier configurations for parental controls and filters.

The price cut is not an altruistic move on the company’s part, it’s an attempt to broaden the market for its mesh wifi hardware. Hopefully, it performs as well as the pricier Deco M4 kit does, but as a wireless-only alternative. Will the Deco W2400 be the best choice for everyone’s first mesh network? Definitely not, but for $100 it will probably improve your parents’ lives, and halve the number of tech support calls you have to field.


> A mesh network with multiple access points can help alleviate an overtaxed wifi network

Not really. Mesh networks improve coverage, but they still have to relay traffic over wireless to the wired station(s).

A mesh does nothing to increase wireless bandwidth. In fact it adds latency with each hop, and uses bandwidth to carry the traffic from mesh nodes without wired backhaul.

The best option will always be a wire (gigabit ethernet, powerline networking, MoCA, etc..) to each access point. Give them all the same name and passphrase and your devices will automatically select the strongest one. They don’t even have to be the same brand.

If you can’t do that and signal strength is your problem, mesh might help you.