Mesh networking products are all over CES 2017. TP-Link introduced Deco M5, their first mesh, or as it is more commonly called, whole home Wi-Fi system. Deco M5 covers the basics such as 802.11ac, single network name, band steering, dynamic AP selection, and an extensive mobile app. After the basics, Deco M5 does have one more trick up its sleeve – hint: keep an eye on that power plug.
Breaking down the system and taking a look at a single unit, Deco M5 is a small, attractive looking product. There is a single status LED on the front, 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back, and one power plug that is USB-C. The Ethernet ports can be used anyway you’d like, meaning you can use one as WAN, and one LAN, or two as LAN if the unit you’re connecting to isn’t the main one. 802.11ac 1300 is supported on each Deco M5, and of course it’ll place all devices connected to it on the best AP and frequency with dynamic AP switching and band steering.
Where things get really different is the way Deco M5 can connect to other Deco M5 units. Of course there is the main and obvious way, wirelessly connecting to each other as a mesh network. In most cases, a wireless connection between mesh access points is totally OK. But what if there are major obstacles between access points? You’ll either have to eliminate the obstacles, add more access points to make up for the drop in signal, or find another solution. Luckily TP-Link has already thought of the other solution, that is to use Powerline Ethernet. Deco M5’s USB-C power port also duplicates as an Ethernet input. If you buy Deco M5 Plus, it comes with Powerline Ethernet to USB-C adapters, which means your link between each Deco M5 is now over a wired connection instead of each unit having to be within range of the other. This can be a huge benefit for really large homes, or homes that need Wi-Fi in basements or attics.
TP-Link Deco M5 is expected to launch in March 2017 with Deco M5 Plus following soon after. TP-Link didn’t have pricing but they said expect Deco M5 to be very competitively priced.
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