“Why did it take so long to get Wifi to look like this?”

TP-Link Deco M4

This weekend, I installed a mesh wifi system in my house. The Asus router we were using barely managed to reach the upstairs bedrooms, so we needed an extra access point. It was a lot of hassle, and the router had a lot of annoying little quirks. Time for something new.

Most mesh systems are rather pricey, especially if you need three or more nodes. One notable exception is TP-Link’s Deco line, and especially the new M4 3-pack. At €169, it’s one of the cheapest options out there.

Here are my first impressions.

  • The nodes are reasonably small, and look great.
  • Setup is extremely easy, with the app guiding you through the process step by step.
  • The app is pretty great, but quite limited, and it is the only interface, no web-based admin at all.
  • I’m a little puzzled by the fact that is has advanced options like VLAN, but you can’t set the subnet or the DHCP range.
  • Parental controls are excellent, with daily online time allowance per kid, configurable bedtimes, etc.
  • It had some trouble getting through the reinforced concrete ceilings in my house, but fared better than previous routers. I did not experiment much with placement though.
  • It supports an ethernet backhaul, which is what I’m using.
  • With that, signal strength and wifi speeds are excellent in every corner of the house.
  • The IFTTT integration has some interesting potential uses.
  • There’s even a setting that lets you schedule the status LED (on/off), in case a node is placed in a bedroom.
  • I’m having a little trouble getting port forwards to work. I’m not sure why, but they’re currently not working. Could be something unrelated. I’ll update this post if/when I find out why. (UPDATE: Working now, stupid mistake on my part)

The quote in the title is essentially my wife’s first reaction when seeing the M4 in our windowsill. It’s our first router that does not need to be tucked away out of sight.

So far, I’d absolutely recommend the Deco M4 if you’re looking for an affordable mesh system that performs well, and you can do without some more advanced features.

Roy Tanck
I'm a freelance WordPress developer, designer, consultant, meetup organizer and speaker. In my spare time I love to go out and take pictures of things.

2 thoughts on ““Why did it take so long to get Wifi to look like this?””

  1. Hi Roy,

    Thanks for this. It would be interesting to see another (common) object next to them – to get a sense of scale.
    Do you make an attempt to alter the WiFi channels so that there are less/no conflicts with other WiFi setups in the near vicinity?

    Cheers,
    Andrew.

    1. This is a promotional image from TP-Link, but the units are about 19cm high (~7.5″). A “banana for scale” would be roughly the same length.

      Wifi channels is another thing you have no control over. I’m not sure if that’s also the case with other mesh networks, but the general idea seems to be that the Deco just figures out the optimal setup. Using the Wifi Analyzer app, I found that it had picked channel 8, which is uncommon (1, 6 and 11 are the usual choices).

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