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Review: TP-Link’s slim deco offers mesh Wi-Fi at AirPort price

(Source: 9to5mac.com)

For the last year or so I’ve been on the fence about picking up a new router. But along with moving into a new house, I decided to finally retire my Time Capsule. After a lot of deliberation, I landed on TP-Link’s deco mesh Wi-Fi system and I’ve been really impressed with the features it offers, such as the app, performance, and price. Read on for our full review.

AirPods

Even though I had heard lots of great things about mesh systems and could have improved my wireless situation long ago, I had an attachment to my 2009 Time Capsule. I’m not sure if it was nostalgia, the dual functionality, or something else, but it kept on trucking for almost a decade and I kept pushing off replacing it.

After moving last week, I finally decided to upgrade to a mesh system (it was also nice to hear official confirmation of Apple discontinuing its AirPort lineup). After chatting with my colleagues I narrowed down my list to eero, Linksys Velop, Google WiFi, and TP-Link deco.

I chose deco for a mix of reasons, but among them were price ($180 for a 2-pack), performance, parental controls and form factor. I also really like that deco comes in a 2-pack that covers homes up to 3,800 sq. ft. Google Wifi only comes in single or 3-pack varieties and eero feels overpriced to me at $300 for it’s 2-pack that only covers 1-2 bedrooms.

Specs

  • Quad-core CPU
  • Wireless 400 Mbps on 2.4 GHz + 867 Mbps on 5 GHz
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • 4 internal antennas per Deco unit
  • 2 Gigabit ports per Deco unit
  • 1 USB Type-C port
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • IPv6 compatible
  • Dimensions: 120 mm (4.72-inch) diameter x 38 mm (1.5-inch height)
  • 2-year warranty

Set up

Just like the clean and simple packaging that deco comes in, the mesh system is super easy and quick to set up with the minimalist deco app. The hardware sports Bluetooth 4.2 for fast detection of the units with your iPhone or iPad.

It took less than 10 minutes from unboxing to getting both routers set up. I put one in my upstairs office and one in our living room on the first floor of our house.

TP-Link has integrated Ookla’s Speedtest into its app to check your connection. I pay for 150 Mbps service and have been getting around 130 Mbps in day-to-day use with deco.

Another nice feature if you opt for app notifications, you’ll be pinged when a new device joins your network.

In use

As I mentioned above, I’ve been really happy with deco’s performance so far. I’m getting about 85% of the speed I’m paying my ISP for. Over the last couple of years I was getting about 40% the speed with my 2009 Time Capsule.

While my son is still young enough that he’s not online too much yet, I like that as he grows older, my wife and I will have simple and easy to use parental controls to guide his internet use.

As for the Antivirus protection, it seems like more of a marketing approach than anything, but I suppose there could be a bit of value with the malicious content filter, intrusion prevention, and infected device quarantine software included via Trend Micro.

One downside is that each unit only sports two Ethernet ports. So depending on your situation, particularly if you have a good amount of HomeKit accessories, you may need an Ethernet switch. However, most mesh systems feature the same limitation and Ethernet switches are cheap.

Another aspect I love about deco is its small footprint. From what I can tell, it’s one of the most compact mesh systems out there. It’s more than an inch shorter than Google Wifi, and even though Linksys reduced the size of its rectangular Velop system, deco is still much easier to keep out of sight.

While I was about ready to wipe my Time Capsule and recycle it, I realized today I could just run it in bridge mode and conveniently continue using it for wireless backups.

Conclusion

With great features and performance that feel just as good as what the competition offers, TP-Link’s deco is a compelling option with its minimal footprint and affordable price. The solid app with a simple and smooth UI only adds to the appeal. It’s no surprise deco is getting close to 1,000 reviews on Amazon with a 4.2/5 average.

You can pick up a single unit for $96 to cover 1-2 bedroom homes, a 2-pack for $180 for 2-4 bedrooms, or a 3-pack for $223 that will handle 3-5 bedrooms.

More Info: 9to5mac.com