In a hopelessly connected world, having an agile, stable and fast Internet connection is becoming increasingly important. However, a new variant enters this equation that is seldom taken into account when implementing a certain type of network at home or within business environments: flexibility . With current advances, it is no longer necessary to resort to wired networks to take advantage of the maximum speed that the router and our telephone operator are capable of providing us. Known as WiFi repeaters come into play in this field, devices that allow us to expand the WiFi signal of our connection to other places in the environment. Unfortunately, most of these extenders largely limit the speed and range beyond the rooms where it is implemented. On this occasion we have had the opportunity to test the new TP-Link Deco M4 for a little over a month , repeaters that draw on the mesh network (Mesh in English) to connect all home devices and are also compatible with Amazon Alexa and the IFTTT app.
Data sheet TP-Link Deco M4
|Type||WiFi Mesh (in mesh)|
|ROM memory||16 MB|
|Speed||300 Mbps in 2.4 GHz|
867 Mbps in 5 GHz
|Antennas||2 dual-band antennas for each Deco unit|
|Ports||2 Gigabit Ethernet connections for each Deco unit and one connection for 12V 1.2A power|
|Dimensions||90.7 x 190 millimeters for each Deco unit|
|Networking||IEEE 802.11 ac / n / a 5 GHz, IEEE 802.11 b / g / n 2.4 GHz|
|software||Deco app for Android and iOS devices|
|Others||Compatibility with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT, parental control, automatic software update, monthly reports, possibility of expansion through other Deco modules|
|Price||From 100 euros|
Design that integrates into the environment decoration
It is not for nothing that the new Deco M4 from TP-Link are called Deco. Far from the traditional repeaters with cables, antennas and extravagant formats, the TP-Link proposal comes as one more accessory that tries to integrate with the rest of the elements of the home through a cylindrical format in the shape of a tube and white and gray colors .
With a size that does not exceed 20 centimeters in height and 10 in width, the TP-Link repeater has dimensions that are somewhat excessive for our taste , although the company justifies it with the integration of two powerful internal antennas and double band a. However, its polycarbonate manufacture gives it a lightness that is appreciated in this type of device.
If we move to the only side of the cylinder that breaks with the repeater's symmetry, we find three types of connections: two Ethernet ports and one power port with a universal connector. Right at the upper base of the cylinder we find an LED light in the shape of the brand's logo whose color varies depending on the state of the connection: yellow when disconnected, red when offline, white when connected and blue when entering. in sync mode.
There is little to highlight from the rest of the design aspects. It is true that due to its size we expected some extra integrated function (smart speaker, virtual assistant ...), although its function as a WiFi extender more than fulfills what the manufacturer promises, as we will see in future sections.
Configuration: you don't have to be an expert to set up your own mesh network
If there is something that has surprised us about the TP-Link WiFi repeaters it is the simplicity of their configuration , both when setting up the mesh network and when configuring them through the TP-Link Deco application.
Depending on the repeater package chosen, we can find up to three different devices . The company has decided to send us the most advanced pack that includes three WiFi repeaters; all identical in design and functionality, and all with their corresponding power and Ethernet cables.
The different forms of connection depend, to a large extent, on the architecture of our home (on the manufacturer's page we can see several recommendations). In our case, we have chosen to implement a vertical distribution, having two floors in the family unit. Once all the repeaters are connected to the power supply, the process is really simple, since we will only have to connect one of the repeaters to the router using the Ethernet cable that is included in the box.
After connecting the parent repeater to the router, we will only have to download the Deco application , synchronize the application with our WiFi connection and select the type of device we want to add. Later we will configure the type of connection (dynamic IP, static IP ...), the name and password of the new network et voilà , we will be able to connect through any device. No complex processes or third-party software.
The process to configure the rest of the repeaters is even easier, since we will only have to add the devices to the network created as if it were a WiFi or Bluetooth device . With the connection of a new repeater, we can also configure a new room to separate the devices depending on their location. Although perhaps the greatest advantage that the TP-Link pack offers is that we can enjoy a wired network through the two Ethernet ports that it integrates , which makes it possible to use it without resorting to cables of several tens of meters, since communication between devices is done wirelessly.
Setting up a new Deco.
And what about integration with Alexa and IFTTT? In our case, we do not have any Amazon assistant, so we have not been able to enjoy the advantages of the latter. According to the manufacturer page, we can perform certain automations related to turning off and on the devices and activating certain connection and power modes. We cannot not mention the absence of compatibility with Google Assistant , something that would have earned it many points over its main competitors.
Deco app: parental control, device monitor and much more
The entry point of the Deco M4 is the eponymous app for Android and iOS. In addition to allowing us to configure the different devices through the functions it integrates, it has a multitude of options that allow us to perform different actions on the network and on the devices that remain connected to the latter. All remotely and without the need to be connected to the network .
List of devices connected and disconnected to the network. The application will notify us if there is a firmware update.
From the outset, the application displays the complete list of devices registered on the network, whether or not they are connected to the Internet. From this menu we can withdraw access to any device - as long as we are administrators - and see the status of the different rooms. If we access the advanced menu of the application, the world of possibilities that opens up is even more extensive. The most interesting possibility is without a doubt that of establishing parental control on the different devices connected to the network.
Parental control function. We can limit the connection time, the type of web services to use and pages by keyword or content type.
This mode allows us to filter from web pages, to social networks, download services and even online games or even web pages with multimedia content (YouTube, Twitch, Soundcloud…), in addition to the maximum connection time. The rest of the functions associated with the advanced configuration of the application allow us to block devices, create custom profiles (administrator and user), reserve IP addresses and limit bandwidth .
Some advanced features of the Deco app. IP reservations, profile creation, monthly reports, LED control, possibility of establishing a Fast Roaming mode ...
The application also has the possibility of creating monthly reports of the devices connected to the network during the time that we indicate to the assistant. It also has a night mode that allows us to turn off the LED light of all Deco M4s to save energy. Special mention to the possibility of establishing the Deco M4 as access points , as well as parallel networks destined to guest devices to further limit their use.
Speed and range - delivers what it promises
The most important factor when dealing with WiFi extenders is the maximum speed that they can replicate with respect to the router and the range of the network. In its primary role, the Deco M4 hasn't disappointed on either of these two points.
Jazztel router WiFi test result
If we refer to the specifications provided by the manufacturer, TP-Link ensures that it is capable of providing up to 300 Mbps in a 2.4 GHz network (about 37.5 MB / s) and about 867 Mbps in a 5 GHz network (about 108 MB / s). s). The maximum ratio reached is around 370 square meters with three connected devices (260 meters if there are two), and the total number of devices reaches the scandalous figure of 100. How well have they behaved under our tests? Without a doubt, the Deco M4 pack from TP-Link has performed very positively.
Deco M4 Ethernet cable test result
The maximum speed reached in upload and download coincides with the speeds provided by the router , which in our case is 100 Mbps symmetric (about 12.5 MB / s). The range with only two extenders connected to the network in a ratio of about 100 square meters on two different floors has been excellent, and at no time have we noticed a decrease in coverage or stability.
Deco M4 WiFi connection test result
Our test environment, by the way, has been based on a schematic made up of seven different devices, including two phones, two computers, a Raspberry Pi, a smart light bulb, and a tablet. While computers have used a wired network to connect to the Internet, the rest of the devices have used WiFi . The experience, despite this, has been the same in all scenarios, with no apparent differences in speed or coverage.
Our opinion of the TP-Link Deco M4
After just over four weeks with the TP-Link, the opinion it deserves is more than positive. Not only does it fulfill its mission, but it also offers a series of characteristics that together make it one of the best packs of WiFi repeaters on the market .
To this is added the happiness of use and the integration factor with the home and with virtual assistants and third-party applications, such as IFTTT and Amazon's Alexa. It should be noted the maximum speed that it is capable of providing, up to 300 and 867 Mbps , and the total device bank, up to 100, making it ideal for business environments.
Its price? Depending on the configuration, the starting value starts from 100 euros for the version with two Deco M4s. If we opt for the option with three extenders, the price exceeds 150 euros. In any case, it is best to opt for the most economical configuration , unless we want to extend the network beyond 370 meters in all directions. Even with everything, both options seem much more complete than any conventional wall repeater, whose price does not usually differ much from the 100 euros from which the most basic option starts.