TP Link Deco M5 review: Home mesh wifi that won’t blow your budget
This flexible system is simple to get up and running
TP Link’s Deco M5: the nodes are reasonably low-profile circular devices, so you can tuck them out of sight.
Product name: TP Link Deco M5 Whole Home Mesh
Where to buy: smarterhomestore.com
I’ve written on more than one occasion about the benefits of a mesh wifi network in your home. Well, in this home, to be more specific. Wifi dead zones are a thing of the past, and in some cases it can make your connection more stable and consistent.
If you aren’t familiar with mesh wifi, it is a network that consists of a series of overlapping nodes that creates a blanket of wifi for your home. One node hooks up to your broadband modem, creating the connection, and the satellite nodes are placed around your home and essentially blanket your home in wifi.
But as cheap fixes go, mesh wifi isn’t a budget option, especially when you compare it to cheaper extenders and powerline kits.
The good news is you don’t have to spend more than €300 to get a decent mesh wifi system that will cover your whole home.
TP Link’s Deco M5 whole home mesh wifi system
The nodes are reasonably low-profile circular devices, so you can tuck them out of sight. They are certainly less obvious than the Nest Wifi or Linksys’s Velop.
To get started, you’ll need the Deco app, which will provide step by step instructions on how to connect all the nodes and get your new network up and running. The whole process took under 10 minutes, which is exactly what you want when you are scrambling for a decent internet connection in your home. Then it’s just a matter of connecting all your wifi enabled devices to the new mesh network. And that really should be that.
A few caveats. The placement of the nodes is key. You want to have them in locations where they will overlap and create a strong network, preferably where there is little interference from other devices. Too far apart and you’ll get a weak network that is prone to dropping.
How many nodes you need depends on a number of factors, the first being how big your home is. The three-pack of nodes in the Deco M5 will be more than enough for most Irish homes, covering 1,500 sq ft; for some households it will be overkill. You can save a few euro by going for a couple of single units.
The biggest factor is the quality of the broadband coming into the house. The Deco may be good but it’s not a miracle worker. If you have broadband hitting the 30 megabits per second mark, it can’t transform it into something that is blazing fast.
The Deco app also comes with antivirus built in, so you can block malicious websites in Trend Micro’s database, put up some sort of defence against malicious external attacks, and quarantine infected devices to try to prevent data loss.
There are also parental controls built into the system, so you can keep an eye on time spent online and check internet history of family members. Each family member can have their own profile, allowing you to filter out adult content, gambling sites, social networking or messaging apps. You can block specific websites for individual users, or set a time limit that will block internet access at certain times of the day or at bedtime, for example.
The controls are easy to pick through, even if you are a little unsure of technology, which makes them more effective than some parental controls.
The Deco M5 system is easy to set up and connect to your home network, taking less than 10 minutes to get the nodes up and running. Once operational, the network was blazing fast, and easy to configure, with options for parental controls and easy oversight on what devices are connected to the network.
Each of the nodes has two ethernet ports on the back, so you can use any of them as the main node hooked up to your modem, and you can also connect devices over ethernet cable to your home network. It’s a more flexible system than I expected.
The not so good
When I initially set up the network, my smartphone immediately flagged the security as weak. My phone recommended a switch to AES to solve the problem. That was easily done in the app, although it took a bit of searching to find the option.
If you want to keep an eye on what is on your network, the Deco app can send you an alert each time a new device connects. That gets old very quickly though.
A solid home wifi system that won’t blow your budget.