We quickly adopt comfort habits. Wi-Fi has long allowed us to get rid of the bulky and inconvenient Ethernet cables to be connected almost anywhere. With the proliferation of connected devices in our homes, the need for Internet access has also grown, colonizing the bedroom and living room through the kitchen and bathroom, not to mention the toilets. Wi-Fi is now as necessary as electricity or running water. Better yet, it should be as easy to use as a tap. This is why products like Google Wi-Fi, Netgear Orbi or, in this case, Deco M5, from TP-Link, are flourishing on the market. But for now, this wireless bliss comes at a price. It is precisely this entry fee that the Deco m5 is trying to reduce. With what success?
The price advantage and the same promise
Before even taking it out of its box, to see if it does indeed “repaint” our interior in Wi-Fi, the Deco could have an advantage over the competition, its price. With a price found oscillating between 279 and 249 euros, the kit including three wireless routers is better than Google’s solution (359 euros for three modules and 230 euros for two) which had pulled prices down.
For this amount, the promise is similar to that of the Deco M5’s competitors and is no less beautiful: cover 400 m2 (in theory) thanks to a single network. One SSID and one password throughout your home. You will be able to move around in your accommodation while remaining connected, without you or your devices having to configure anything on a daily basis.
Small Deco point
Discreet and rather design, the Deco M5’s cases will not shock in a somewhat modern interior. They can easily be placed on a shelf, chest of drawers or a chimney corner as long as they are within reach of an electrical outlet to power them. Obviously, one of them – they are interchangeable – will have to be close enough to your Internet box to be connected to it via Ethernet on one of the two ports it ships.
Therefore, its four antennas will use two frequency bands 2.4 and 5 GHz for speeds of 867 Mbit / s in Wi-Fi 802.11ac and 400 Mbit / s in 802.11n. We can therefore immediately understand that the TP-Link does not play the card of a dedicated frequency band like the Orbi, which is tri-band. Concern, dual-band is synonymous with loss of throughput since it is theoretically necessary for routers to share their bandwidth between their communications with one another and the data that travels from the Net.
Nevertheless, the engineers of the Chinese giant put forward a homemade solution, called ART, for Adaptive Routing Technology. It promises to optimize the Wi-Fi connection used whatever the bandwidth. Thus, in addition to adjusting the channels in real time, if the user is connected at 2.4 GHz, the box will exchange with others on the 5 GHz frequency band, and vice versa. ART is also supposed to always connect to the router with the best speed. In broad terms, this is also highlighted by Google Wi-Fi. Where the Deco m5 go a little further is that they also manage the Ethernet connection in the same way.
So, if you have the option of connecting all routers (which can also act as an access point) to a local wired network, if you have installed Ethernet cables throughout your home, they will continue to offer only ” a single Wi-Fi network without having to use part of their bandwidth for their communication.
Express installation, very simple management and little extra
One thing is certain, regardless of your environment, the installation of Deco m5 will be quick and extremely easy, whether you have an Android or iOS smartphone. The configuration is done from an application once the phone is connected via Bluetooth to the first module. The first router is connected to the box, the second at ten meters (in theory) and the same for the third. You can decide to place them at the tail leu leu (connection in daisy chain) if your accommodation is in length, for example, or in star, within the framework of a house, in particular.
In any case, the configuration tool will automatically tell you, after a short review, if the connection is good. It is from the application that we will then control the routers and that we will access all the tools offered. On this point, TP-Link is strong, better than its main competitors.
Thus, it embeds the HomeCare solution, developed by the renowned Trend Micro. The latter offers the user in charge of Wi-Fi administration the benefit of an antivirus, parental control and a quality of service tool.
The antivirus filters possible malicious content, prevents intrusions and quarantines devices that may have been contaminated. The simplicity bias of TP-Link may be explained because it offers no advanced settings and requires no intervention. It will also update itself, like the router, in the background. Note that you will receive a notification after each update or connection of a new device, which allows you to know what is happening on your network without having to worry about it. We will move on to the very basic quality of service part, which essentially amounts to favoring a type of use (games, navigation, etc.).
The parental control part is more complete and concerns each device. Here, TP-Link (and its partner) does better than Google. It is possible to define a filter based on the age range of the user for each tablet, PC, console, etc. It is also possible to go a little further by banning certain adult sites, online games, e-commerce, etc. The Deco tool includes black and white lists that you can obviously customize later.
Modern parental controls would not be complete without the ability to limit Internet access time based on different days of the week and number of hours.
Very useful if you have children who are a little too web-consuming! These Trend Micro services are available for free for three years. Then you will have to pay a subscription.
Coverage, speed and connection quality
Once the installation and configuration are complete, we first see that the coverage of TP-Link Deco m5 is slightly worse than that of Google Wi-Fi and Netgear Orbi. As part of our review apartment, which is a real hell for Wi-Fi (many very thick load-bearing walls, a series of rooms, etc.), we had to bring the three routers closer to allow the network to be stable and avoid holes in the cover. Note also that the application can judge the positioning of the routers correct, while in fact it is better to bring them a little closer.
However, once the three routers are in place, the measured speeds are very good within reach of the first router, regardless of the size of the files transferred. The Deco m5 does (almost) as well as the Orbi RBK50 and RBK30: 407 Mbit / s in down stream, 378 Mbit / s in up. In the coverage area of the second Deco m5, download speeds drop by almost half to 230 Mbit / s.
However, despite Adaptive Routing Technology (and once again in the context of an apartment where routers are effectively in a daisychain position, in a row), the loss of throughput is significant. On the third router, as far as possible from the first Deco m5, we measured a speed of 110 Mbit / s in download and 50 Mbit / s in upload. Knowing that we have found, mainly at the limit of range, that flows can collapse without warning, be cut in half or even a little more. The manifestation of the limits of Adaptive Routing Technology and the choice of dual band.
In any case, the Deco m5 does worse than Google Wi-Fi … which used only two routers to cover the same surface. This seems to confirm that the Deco m5 are struggling to broadcast their waves in a “hostile” environment.