But what do you do? Apart from cursing everything under the sun, you can perhaps splurge on a really expensive Wi-Fi router and hope it offers better range. Chances are, more often than not, it won’t. That is because a Wi-Fi router in most homes is not placed exactly in the geometric centre. What should you do, in that case? Shift into a smaller home? Kill all your dreams of being able to play PUBG after you tuck into the bed for the night? Never be able to stream Netflix on your bedroom TV? Fret not, because there is a rather simple solution—a Wi-Fi Mesh system, that links multiple nodes to talk to each other and spread the Wi-Fi signals across your home. With no discrimination whatsoever.
Though Wi-Fi Mesh systems aren’t exactly the most affordable, prices have started coming down off late. The latest kid on the block is the Tenda Nova MW6, and the set of 3 units which claims to cover 6000 square meter, is priced at Rs 14,500 and you can get a two unit set (if you have a smaller home) for around Rs 12,000.
Just as with all other Wi-Fi Mesh system, what you get with the Nova MW6 is a base unit that connects with your internet connection (if it is a cable or a fiber line, for instance) or an existing internet modem (if you have a DSL broadband connection, for instance). Then there are the accompanying units, two more in this specific configuration, which then wireless hook-up with each other to extend the effective and usable range of Wi-Fi signal across your entire home.
The design itself of each of these units is something worth admitting. They simply are designed like cubes, and considerably smaller than some of its more expensive rivals. This looks quite cool to look at when you keep this on a table, and can be effectively hidden away as well if that is what you would prefer. The matte white colour finish, the tiny LED light indicating the status of connectivity and the power as well as connectivity ports hidden behind and below each Nova MW6 unit gives it a very clean look overall.
Inside each of these Nova MW6 units is a Realtek RTL8197FS SoC with a 1 GHz processor, 128 MB RAM, and 16 MB storage. You really don’t need to worry about the processing power in a Wi-Fi modem (we never have come across one that was too slow to manage the internet connection plugged into it), and the same applies for a Wi-Fi Mesh and each of the nodes in play. This is a dual-band system, which has a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 867Mbps on the 5GHz band and 300Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band. For the mesh functionality that includes the data transfers between the different units, the Tenda Nova MW6 uses the 867Mbps pipeline, which means you may find some reduction in download speeds if you end up connecting multiple devices with different nodes at the same time. At this price, we really wouldn’t hold this up as a big limitation however. Let us take the example of the Linksys Velop (around Rs 15,000 for set of two and Rs 22,900 for set of three) which brings to the table a tri-band dual stream with two 5GHz bands (up to 867Mbps) and one 2.4GHz band (up to 400Mbps)—one 5GHz band is dedicated for the backhaul task to link the nodes together. With a dedicated backhaul pipeline, you will not see any reduction in broadband speeds with range or network congestion.
But for whatever the Tenda Nova MW6 may lack on the spec sheet in comparison with more expensive alternatives, chances are this will be more than adequate for your 50Mbps, 100Mbps and 300Mbps internet connections at home. With that as the standard comparison point, the internet speeds and bandwidth across the three nodes is the same as the Linksys Velop and the Netgear Orbi. It is only for high bandwidth usage scenarios where the Nova MW6 Wi-Fi Mesh may struggle in speed comparisons—but then again, those users would probably be looking at something more powerful anyway. This worked well for us, be it on Android phones, iPhones and iPads, Windows laptops, MacBooks, the Nvidia Shield and the Sony PlayStation 4.
Setting this up doesn’t take up your time. You need to download the Tenda Wi-Fi app (free for Android and iOS) to set this up, get the Wi-Fi access point ready and connect the mesh units as well. Interestingly, there is no option to have different identifications for the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands, something that quite a few routers allow, but it isn’t a deal-breaker by any stretch of the imagination. The Nova MW6 will automatically detect the device you are using, the distance from the nearest node and switch you between the 2.4Ghz and 5GHz bands. You can set up a guest network, and even set parental controls including giving children access to the internet for certain hours in the day.
As things stand, this is the most cost-effective solution for replacing your inadequate or old Wi-Fi router. It is simple enough to set up, works well for home broadband usage environments and is quite hassle free to use. You will just be glad to have uninterrupted internet all around the home.