Published on August 5th, 2017 | by Greg0
TP-Link Deco M5: Whole-House Mesh Networking, With Style
Whole home mesh networking- the phrase might be a bit confusing for people who aren’t up on the latest trend in router technology. Basically, you’re probably used to connecting to a single router unit in your house or apartment, but you’ve almost certainly used systems that offer seamless connectivity. Airports and similar venues may have a single wifi network name, but are actually comprised of multiple nodes across a wide area. And now you can achieve the same thing, with a few different options on the market, each competing to become the standard.
TP-Link’s Deco M5 isn’t, perhaps the first solution on store shelves, and it’s not from a brand you might be more familiar with, like Google. But being early to market often isn’t an advantage, and the Deco has taken advantage of it’s timing to offer some additional functionality- specifically, some of the same security benefits that we saw very recently in our review of the CUJO Firewall. But instead of needing to plug in a new device to your router, the Deco M5s are small, nearly identical pucks that serve as routers and extenders themselves- three of them in total come in the package for a total coverage area of up to 4,500 square feet in total. Each cute, white puck contains a speedy quad-core processor and multiple antennas providing speeds of up to 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps on the 5GHz band. And you can always add more units if you need; we put one on each floor of a three-story brownstone for our demo.
Mesh systems generally use an app on your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet to set everything up, and this one is similar- you’ll need to create an account as well. That allows you access to a variety of controls and info, but the advanced configuration tools and functionality will seem a little limited compared to your standard router. TP-Link has been making networking products for a long time, and it shows, as they’ve built in some features like parental controls, speed tests, and advanced QoS (quality of service) tools, allowing you to prioritize gaming, streaming, surfing, or even chatting. We still missed a web interface, and in tests found some of the competition of be faster- but not significantly so, and the differences largely were erased as distances became greater. There is some built-in virus and malware protection, warning you of errors and issues and preventing access to bad sites- so while it’s not as fast as Amped’s Ally or as user-friendly as Google’s Wifi it does offer distinct advantages.
TP-Link offers a two-year warranty and solid technical support, and the Deco M5 is priced reasonably, less per unit than the Linksys Velop. We liked the aesthetics too, so if you’d like some extra security along with incredible network range, there’s no reason to sacrifice good looks. We also appreciated that each Deco boasts wired ethernet ports, so you can connect your printer or a desktop computer. Expect to spend around $240 or so, online and in stores, for the new TP-Link Deco M5 Whole-Home Mesh Wi-Fi system.