I have not found any detailed Velica reviews based on the actual experience of using the unit. There are few “unboxing”/“setup” style posts here and there, but no long term usage review. Without further ado, let’s start.
In the summer of 2021 I replaced my Convexa (B1300) mesh setup with two Velicas (B2200)…
TL;DR: Forget about OpenWRT (“flexibility”), forget about DFS (“high speed” in urban areas), hardware is decent but very very limited by the software and the software is locked airtight. This is a regular vendor-locked proprietary device, unlike the previous models. It works well, though. Of course, within the boundaries of the tiny walled garden GL.iNet allows you to play in, but sadly useless in many locations. Buy something cheaper instead or do not afraid to pay extra for DFS support.
Important things you need to know before considering Velica:
- There is NO DFS support, which means it can only use channel 36 (42 since all your neighbours using entire 80MHz, too)
- There is no OpenWRT exposed in the mesh mode on the sub-nodes and very limited control over the main node, too.
- Not a deal breaker unlike the previous two, but still important. There is no parity for web and mobile admin apps, you have to stick to one method of changing the settings.
DFS support is nowhere to be seen, well, it has been confirmed already, not much to add there. It is a glaring omission, buy Convexa instead, DFS is working there with minimal scripting. It is a real shame, because it kills WiFi mesh performance – imagine being able to have your backhaul connection using different frequencies from your client’s network. However, in reality if you are using Velica all your data is competing twice for the same frequency (in my flat there are a dozen APs all sitting on the same channel 36(42) and using 80MHz).
OpenWRT is a marketing gimmick, do not expect to be able to use any of the advanced capabilities especially in the mesh mode. Most of the settings are locked and will be overwritten if you change them manually (presumably by the mobile admin app?). In fact, in mesh mode you cannot even access the sub nodes anymore (it was working fine with Convexa). Again, compared to Convexa is it a huge step back. While not supported, I could tweak each node’s config via SSH on Convexa, something not possible with Velica.
The mobile app, well, maybe useful for attracting TikTokers (or, more seriously, simplyfying first time setup), but I wish GL.iNet invested more in the DFS support instead or at least unlocked proper SSH/UCI access. It’s hard to justify mobile app when they do not provide MVP with basic necessary features (DFS and OpenWRT). Keep in mind that certain settings can be accessed via web admin only, e.g. if you create VPN client config using web UI, you won’t be able to see in the app.
Do I still use it? No longer, it sits in the storage, waiting for the proper OpenWRT to be ported there. If it won’t happen soon, I have plan B. My friends need a better connection in their garden shed which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Sadly, this is the only use case I see for this promising-on-paper device.