TP-Link has launched one of the most affordable Wi-Fi Mesh Router Systems available in Singapore. The Deco M4 comes in 2-unit pack (S$149) and 3-unit pack (S$219). And they are having on-going discounts on some of the online stores like Hachi.Tech and Lazada. TP-Link Deco is the easiest Wi-Fi Mesh system to set up, supports Parental Controls with monthly reports, and able to remotely manage the system anywhere outside the home network.
Unboxing and Design
The Deco M4 is designed in a cylindrical tower form, which my guess is to improve signal reliability and heat dissipation. While he retail box is huge, the individual units are quite lightweight, made of low-density plastic with a hollow sound when tapped against. Effort has been put into the design, especially the details at the top plate with parallel grille lines going around the logo that lights up during operations.
Behind, the two Ethernet ports are placed on the rear side while only the round power adapter plug is hidden beneath the base. This is more practical, giving more room to handle different cable thickness compared to the D-Link COVR-2202.
The TP-Link Deco remains the easiest Mesh Router System I have installed. The in-app guide is clear, and the process is fast. I have tested on the Deco M5 over a year ago, and now the Deco M4 is similarly smooth. Just watch the below GIF, and notice the timestamp at the top right corner: I completed the setup within 3 minutes!
Just to ensure the units are reliably paired, I recommend you to pair them when they are in close proximity, and re-position the units to the desired location after pairing is completed. Alternatively, you might want to position the units and then see if it can pair with the primary unit. When the pairing error occurs, it could be a good sign that the location is not ideal.
Another great thing about TP-Link Deco is that all the various models are compatible with one another. So I could mix and match different models into a single mesh unit. I personally find the Deco M4 too large, and prefer the Deco M5 coaster-like design. The Deco M9 is the only model with built-in smart hub that also can control other TP-Link smart devices, like Smart Plug and Smart Bulb. So given a choice, I would buy one Deco M9 unit as primary, then connect multiple M4s or M5s, depending on your budget and your tolerance for size.
The TP-Link Deco is versatile such that they can be configured as a main router, or as an access point working along-side with another wireless router. The Ethernet ports are multi-use, meaning it will auto-detect whether the ports are for receiving incoming traffic from ISP (WAN) or for sending outgoing traffic to your wired devices (LAN).
The major difference between the Deco M4 and Deco M5 is the unit size, the AC1200 bandwidth (vs. AC1300 on M5) and no anti-virus. On the whole, the Deco M4 did feel it achieved poorer coverage than the Deco M5 at some part of the house when the units are placed at the same spots, particularly my child’s room, while far-reaching areas like my master toilet works great.
Other than that room, the 20+ devices in my home connect reliably without issues, as TP-Link boasts that Deco M4 is capable of connecting up to 100 devices. The connection speed averages about 120Mbps on 5GHz, and can get up to 300Mbps on a quiet day. The units can also be linked by wired backhaul for even higher bandwidth.
The units operate with little heat and do not scorch my hands nor heat the surface, definitely way better than the Deco M5 and D-Link COVR series.
Parental Controls and Device Monitoring
The ability to monitor the usages of my family members is one of the main reasons you should get a mesh router system compared to a conventional router. Although some conventional routers also come with device control, they are not as user friendly. You can choose the sites to filter, time controls by hours or by specific timings. Even if you do not intend to restrict usage, creating profiles allow user to gain insights on the devices tagged under the profile. For instance, I created a profile for my wife and I can see that she spends the most time on Facebook.
The Deco M4 can also generate monthly reports on the devices and usage traffic, summarising the top sites visited, giving insights on the sites that are accessed for the longest period. The administrator can easily block any sites. Do note that if the device has a mobile SIM, then blocking the device will only switch it to mobile network.
Monitor Network Anywhere
The Deco app can be accessed even when the app is not logged in to the home Wi-Fi network. This is very helpful to manage the mesh routers, like installed firmware updates remotely, observing traffic on each device, restricting access on-the-fly if necessary.
The Deco M4 (3-unit) is retailing at S$219, but is going at an offer of S$169 at Hachi.tech. I recommend them for their ease of installation, reliable performance, parental controls, and unbeatable price. Even though the average speed is lower than other brands, I like its reliability, though I still prefer the Deco M5 for its smaller size, albeit almost double the price. If you have a limited budget, then I’d say the Deco M4 is a no-brainer. The offer is too attractive to let go. For even better coverage, get more units, which still adds up to be cheaper than other brands.