TP-Link has quite a few products in its catalog. And among the most recent, it is impossible not to mention the Deco P9 , units that will allow you to extend the range of your home network by combining WiFi and CPL.
TP Link, as you probably know, is not a newcomer to the sector. The company was founded in 1996 in Shenzhen and has been with us for almost thirty years.
And in thirty years, things have happened. From now on, the firm is no longer limited to routers or switches and it therefore has several consumer solutions in its catalog.
Deco P9 is the latest and it should be of interest to a lot of people since it will allow you to extend the range of your home network.
There, you will tell me that the market is already saturated with WiFi repeaters and you are absolutely right. Except that TP Link's solution goes a little further. It is indeed a hybrid solution based on both WiFi and Powerline.
Design & Ergonomics
Deco P9 comes in a fairly heavy and imposing box, which is quite logical since the latter contains no less than three different units. Units thanks to which we will be able to cover an area of approximately 560 square meters.
And there, I think we will stop for a moment to come back to an important point.
You are obviously not required to set up the three units present in the box.
In reality, everything will depend on your accommodation and its configuration. If you live in a two or three room apartment, then two units will probably suffice. The pack regrouping the three units is aimed mainly at people who live in large houses. It should also be noted that TP Link offers several different packs. They are all for sale on Amazon .
The box is therefore imposing, but it at least has the merit of giving a lot of information on what it contains… and on what exactly the TP Link solution offers. At the back, we will even find a diagram that will help newbies to see a little more clearly, as well as the list of the main functions of the Deco P9.
By opening the box, we will come across another box and it is ultimately this box that contains all the products included in the pack.
The three P9 units will appear next to each other, along with their quick start guide. They will have to be lifted to access the Ethernet cable provided as well as the box of their accessories. Or rather their accessory, since the box contains a simple power supply.
A P9 unit comes in the form of a cylinder covered in matte white plastic, with a black air vent on the top and the brand logo on the front. The connection is placed at the back and it is limited to two Ethernet sockets.
As for the power plug, it is located under the cylinder, alongside a push button allowing a complete reset of the unit. We will also find labels on which appear the SSID of the network or the MAC address of the unit.
But that's not all, because the P9 also integrate a speaker and microphones through which we can call on Alexa. It will therefore be possible to control them by voice, at least in certain countries. This function is not yet available in France.
The installation is quite simple and it does not require any special technical knowledge. First, you will have to take one of the P9 units and connect it to the box at home using the Ethernet cable provided.
The power supply, for its part, must be connected to a single electrical outlet and therefore without a multiple socket.
And it is important to insist on this. There is nothing magic about the CPL. For it to give the maximum, you must already have a recent electrical installation and standards. Which is the case with me.
But above all, you must limit interference as much as possible and the box must therefore have its own socket. This can obviously be restrictive in certain configurations.
Once the first P9 unit is plugged in, it will suffice to download and install the Deco app on your smartphone and launch it. The tool will then load a wizard which will guide you step by step through the configuration of the system.
I will not detail all the steps, but, basically, you will have to start by creating a TP Link account and then connect to the speaker by going to find, from your smartphone, the SSID corresponding to the one indicated on the label of unity.
The wizard will continue and ask you to create your network name and set a password. It will then continue by performing various tests to determine if the unit is connected to the Internet.
Once this step is completed, the application will offer to configure other P9 units.
And each time, the assistant will take you by the hand to calmly explain all the steps to follow, with pictograms and animations understandable by the greatest number. To put it simply, you will therefore have to plug in a new unit and wait for the LED located on the top to flash blue. Once this is done, the connection will be established.
This step will take a minute or two and the app will simply ask you to locate the unit by indicating where it is.
Then, when everything is done, the wizard will simply ask you if you want to add a new unit. And if this is the case, then the whole procedure will have to be repeated.
What really surprised me, with Deco P9, is how easy it is to set up.
The assistant is very well designed and it is clear enough so that newbies can get by without needing the help of the famous "knowledgeable relative". TP Link has done a really good job on this.
Especially since the assistant will also take care of configuring all the Powerline connections without asking you anything in particular and without having to press any button.
So of course, wired enthusiasts are sure to point out that the P9 units only include two Ethernet connectors. Which is a bit light when you are very well equipped.
But there is a ready-made solution: the switch. It will suffice to connect one of the ports of the units to a switch to be able to benefit from a more extensive connection. I did this in my living room and in my office and it just works. The hardest part is cable management and therefore to ensure that the cables are seen as little as possible.
Functions & Options
The P9 units are in place, our network is functioning properly, so we just have to roll up our sleeves and look at the features offered by the TP Link solution.
And before going any further, it is important to point out that not all the products in the Deco range are equal in terms of functionality. Some indeed go further.
What we are going to see here is therefore valid for the P9s. If you go for a different product, some functions are therefore likely to be missing. And the best is obviously to go and see what is going on on the product sheet.
To manage your Deco P9, you will have no choice and you will therefore have to turn to the mobile application. The same one that we just used for the implementation of the solution. TP Link does indeed offer any web interface and it must be admitted that this is a bit of a shame.
Good point however, the application is extremely well designed and it is very easy to learn.
By launching it, you will find yourself in front of a dashboard listing all the connected and active devices. For each of you, you will find their name, a pictogram symbolizing them and… the ascending and descending bandwidth that they consume.
With this system, you will immediately be able to identify devices that are pulling a little too much on the rope.
By tapping on a device, you will access its card. There, it will be possible to change its name, modify its pictogram or even give it a high priority. If you do, then the device in question will take precedence over the others and will therefore have priority. Good point besides, it will be possible to activity the high priority for an indefinite period or for a limited duration: one hour, two hours or four hours.
At the very top you will also find three buttons. The first refers to the accordion menu of the application, which is not particularly interesting. The two on the right deserve a little more your attention since they will allow you to display the latest notifications and add a new unit.
In the notifications you will find all the alerts generated by the application. Indeed, by default, when a new device connects to your network, you receive a notification to notify you. And of course you can turn off this feature in the options.
Regarding the addition of a new unit, it may be useful to specify that all the products in the Deco range are compatible and you can therefore combine P9 units with M9 Plus units, for example.
TP Link had the intelligence to think in terms of ecosystem and it is a happy choice.
At the bottom you will find a tab titled "more". It will allow you to access additional functions and options.
These options and functions are divided into two categories: router settings at the top and everything related to "homecare" at the bottom.
Regarding the parameters, the list is brief. It will be possible to change the SSID or the password, but also to create a WiFi network for the guests. An open network separate from the main network.
In the blacklist, you can block certain devices. The update button refers for its part to updates.
As for the "advanced" button, it refers to some additional options. For example, it will be possible to change the IP of the P6 network, activate IPv6, reserve addresses for certain devices or even indulge in the joys of port forwarding.
As a bonus, you will also have access to an interesting option called Fast Roaming. It allows your devices to change units completely seamlessly and depending on where they are.
You can also turn off the LEDs at night or change the operating mode of your P9 units and switch between router mode and access point mode.
The difference between the two is quite simple. In router mode, the P9 units will create a new local network and share the connection of the box. If you opt for the access point mode, then they will simply extend the WiFi coverage of your box.
And be careful, because if you activate the access point mode, then you will lose all the functions related to parental control.
But of course, it is the functions related to "Homecare" or digital well-being that are the most interesting.
If these will allow you to create several administrators or to configure the priorities given to each device, they will especially give you control over the parental control system of the P9 units.
This parental control system is based on the creation of profiles. A profile will correspond to a user and it will be possible to associate one or more devices with him. TP Link does not impose any limits on this side.
When creating a profile, you will have to indicate its age group with four possibilities: child, pre-teen, teen or adult. This choice is not trivial since each profile has its own smart filters. But of course, on your side, you can also decide to allow or ban any type of content.
Here again, TP Link's solution goes quite far and it will be able to distinguish between adult content, download platforms, games, media, online communication tools or even social networks.
But if that is not enough for you, then no problem since you will also have the possibility of blocking certain sites by directly entering the address of their domain.
That's good, but that's not all. Thanks to the P9 units, you will also be able to take control of the time. For each profile, you can thus define time limits and bedtime. And this for the days of the week or the weekends.
But be careful, because these quotas will be imposed for all the devices used by the user.
Concretely, if your child's profile is linked to a smartphone, a tablet and a computer and you set a time limit of 2 hours per day, then the child will not be able to spend more than two hours on all of these devices.
And of course, for each profile, you also have access to a complete history with all the sites visited.
If you like numbers, then know that the application also provides access to a monthly report. This module works a bit like a dashboard and it will allow you to know the top 5 views of each profile, or the number of devices connected per day. TP Link of course gives the possibility to deactivate or delete these reports.
As you can see, the tool is quite comprehensive. Complete, and accessible, which is sure to delight neophytes.
On the other hand, if you know a little about networking, then you may feel a little cramped since the configuration options offered do not go very far. It therefore lacks an expert mode giving control of options such as WiFi channels or even IP addressing of the network formed by the P9 units.
Take a simple example. If most of my devices are connected using DHCP, all my NAS are configured with fixed IPs. The thing is, by installing the P9s, the units created a new network with totally different IPs than I was using before.
So I lost the connection to my NAS and I had to reset their network settings to be able to find them.
Okay, after all of that, you might be wondering what TP Link's solution is worth when it comes to speeds.
I do not have any measures to present to you, and for a fairly obvious reason: everything will depend on your network, the configuration of your home and even your electrical installation.
As far as I'm concerned, in any case, I didn't notice any difference with my previous installation, one which, in all modesty, worked extremely well. It is therefore positive.
Except that in addition, I gain two or three things thanks to the P9. The coverage is much better and there are hardly any white areas in my house anymore.
To get it right, I might have to add an extra unit in one of the attic bedrooms, but hey, that's not a necessity either.
But above all, thanks to this solution, I now have a powerful and flexible tool to better supervise my daughters. There, at least, I know that when they are told to go to bed, they will not go on Snapchat or Instagram.
And the price? Everything will depend on the chosen pack. The one used for this test is offered at € 209 at Amazon . It is not cheap, but it is not limited to WiFi and it relies on both wireless and CPL, which is not the case with other packs.