TP-LINK Deco M4 Review: Your First WiFi Mesh

TP-Link Deco M4 - “younger” in the manufacturer's line AC1200 home Mesh Wi-Fi system. Attentive readers gg

remember that on our pages there were reviews of two"Older" devices: TP-Link Deco M5 from Oleg Muravitsky, and a very recent review of my pen's TP-LINK Deco P7. We must pay tribute to TP-Link: from the user's point of view, the experience of using these devices is similar, so I will constantly refer to the text on the Deco P7, and sometimes quote it, pointing out the differences between the systems. So this review of TP-Link Deco M4 is at the same time a description, experience of using the system, as well as a comparison with other devices of the line, mainly with Deco P7.

  • What is the Mesh Wi-Fi system
  • What is interesting system TP-Link Deco M4
  • Specifications TP-Link Deco M4
  • Package and appearance TP-LINK Deco M4
  • How I tested TP-LINK Deco M4, in what conditions
  • How to set up IFTTT in TP-LINK Deco M4
  • TP-LINK Deco M4 Neighbors
  • In the dry residue
  • 3 reasons to buy TP-Link Deco M4
  • 2 reasons not to buy TP-Link Deco M4

What is the Mesh Wi-Fi system

Unlike the usual “Wi-Fi”, each mesh Wi-FiThe system consists of several device nodes (they are called “mesh nodes”) —from one and at least a hundred. From the point of view of a regular user, a mesh node is a regular Wi-Fi router, but there is a significant difference between them. All nodes in such a network are equal (unlike the Wi-Fi bundle router + repeater), and allow you to create a "seamless" effective network coverage in an apartment or house of complex layout - with virtually no failures, attenuation and interruption of the signal during switching between its sources.

Deco Mesh Wi-Fi and regular Wi-Fi. TP-Link illustration, annotations gg

Theoretically, by replacing the usual router with a Wi-Fi Mesh system, the user will receive the same Wi-Fi, only more stable and equally fast even during movements between nodes of the mesh network.

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What is interesting system TP-Link Deco M4

Judging by the name of the model, the Deco M4 isunder Deco M5. Deco M5 as two drops of water is similar to the Deco P7, only TP-Deco Deco P7 powerline technology supports them. But the Deco M4 differs from its counterparts in appearance, as well as in technical characteristics.

As you will see below, the M4 loses a bittechnically, but (looking ahead) still looks interesting because of its availability to the buyer. With TP-Link Deco M4, in just minutes you can deploy a regular or Wi-Fi Mesh in a small apartment or house.

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Specifications TP-Link Deco M4

Interface
2 Gigabit LAN / WAN ports with auto detection

Dimensions

⌀90.7 mm x 190 mm

CPU

System-on-chip (SoC) Qualcomm

Power supply
external, 12V ⎓ 1.2A

Network Standards
AC1200 (IEEE 802.11 b / g / n 2.4 GHz, IEEE 802.11 ac / n / a 5 GHz)

Antenna type
2 built-in Wi-Fi antennas

Wireless signal power (EIRP)
FCC: <30 dBm
CE: <20 dBm (2.4 GHz), <23 dBm (5 GHz)

Data transfer speed

5 GHz: up to 867 Mbit / s
2.4 GHz: up to 300 Mbps

Wireless security
WPA-PSK / WPA2-PSK

Transmitter power
FCC: <30 dBm
CE: <20 dBm (2.4 GHz), <23 dBm (5 GHz)

WAN connection type
Dynamic IP / Static IP / PPPoE

DHCP
Server client

Port Forwarding
Port Triggering, UPnP

Dynamic DNS
DynDns, NO-IP

Protocols

IPv4 and IPv6 support

Network security (firewall) and access control

SPI Firewall
Parental control
Free built-in antivirus for 3 years

Other

MU-MIMO
Auto path selection
Self-healing
AP Steering
Band steering
Beamforming

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Package and appearance TP-LINK Deco M4

Deco M4 is sold in two sets: 2 modules or 1 module. We have on the review a variant of two Deco.

The packaging is slightly different from the Deco P7, it is simpler, but still high quality. The box is medium in size, made of thick white cardboard, it is put on a "dust cover" with good printing.





Under the box cover you will find two Deco modules.M4, boxes with power supplies (2 pcs.), One Ethernet RJ45 cable, quick start instructions. The power supply is small, made of white plastic, the cable is quite thin, soft, high-quality. Modules are identical, made of rough, also white plastic. Each Deco M4R is a tall (compared to M5 and P7) parallelepiped column with strongly rounded edges, an almost circular cylinder.





The upper part of the dark plastic in the centerA recess where the LED indicator hides in the form of the TP-Link logo. The indicator signals the status of the module, the light is very soft, unobtrusive - if you do not know where to look, you will not notice. The grooves of the "cover" frame the logo, visually complementing it, and at the same time masking the slits for the heat sink.






On, conditionally, the back of the Deco M4 fit twoRJ-45 port. The service information is on the bottom in one half, and in the recess on the other side there is a power supply connector and a tiny Reset button recessed into the case. On the lower part along the perimeter there are four low legs.




Modules Deco M4 for my taste are beautiful. They are like vases or audio speakers - in general, they will not only spoil the home interior, but will easily become part of it.

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How I tested TP-LINK Deco M4, in what conditions

In the review TP-link Deco P7, I described the featureshome network: “I live in a small apartment (48 sq. m), the cable from the provider to the modem is connected to the shelf in the corner of the living room, and this creates problems. The fact is that this corner is formed by half-meter-high reinforced concrete walls, and my small office is located just diagonally - the router barely “breaks through” this barrier. I won't say that there is no signal there - it is there, but weak and unstable, and the situation when I, as a ghost, stand with a macbook in my hand closer to the router, while a large file is being downloaded, it repeats so often that it has already stopped scaring my home ”.

In this case, I had two Deco M4 modules against three Deco P7, so I decided to place an additional module just behind the concrete corner. The rest of the setup was identical to P7:

“With the help of Google Assistant, I read the QR code onbox, installed the link on Google Play TP-Link Deco application. At this stage, you will already need the Internet - given that you actually want to connect and configure it, this can cause problems. I recommend to attend to access to the mobile Internet at least for the time of setting Deco - immediately after installing the application, you will also need to register the TP-Link ID. This identifier is required to administer the network (there may be several) - even remotely. For example, his home, and parents. "

I connected the twisted pair from the modem provider throughRJ-45 (both gigabit ports are identical), the power supply to the Deco M4 and to the outlet. I waited until the yellow LED on top of the Deco M4 module changed to a pulsating blue. “Next, the setup process went like clockwork: the screen behind the screen, clear illustrated explanations - the application is designed, if not for a very beginner, just like a regular smartphone user, who distinguishes Google from scarf.”


After setting up the first device from the kit -technically they are the same, no matter which one you choose, the application suggested either to finish the setting or add additional Deco modules. I connected one more - right on the shelf in the office (remember, behind concrete walls). After connecting, the application offered to update the “firmware” of the router. Everything happened quickly, I did not even notice when the new software was installed. Once again, I repeated the procedure - in my apartment I started a mesh Wi-Fi network.

As the measurements showed, the speed of access to the Internet modules is almost the same - 178–180 Mbit / s, a little less than the provider promised 200 Mbit / s.

In the application, the minimum necessary settings forreliable functioning of the home network. On the first screen, behind the image of the globe, there is a button for calling the screen with a list of nodes of your new mesh network, below are icons for setting antivirus (on / off) and parental control (creating profiles for limited network use), and even lower is a list of devices connected to the network. Everything is identical to Deco P7:

“The second tab contains icons for accessingsettings of the router. For advanced and just curious users, there is a “Advanced” button, where you can configure port forwarding, dynamic DNS (DDNS) from TP-Link, set up a led display, enable “fast roaming” (802.11r).
For those who want to know more, but lazyGoogle, 802.11r is an amendment to the IEEE 802.11 standard (simply speaking Wi-FI), which provides "seamless" smooth, fast switching between network nodes. "


How to set up IFTTT in TP-LINK Deco M4

In the review of Deco P7, I described how I set up IFTTT:

"In the side menu of TP-Link Deco there is an item„ FriendsOf Deco - there you can connect and configure Amazon’s voice assistant from Alex, and a free web service for creating chains of IFTTT conditional operators (If This Then That - “If this then”). If you have not encountered it before, then it's time to fix it.

In the TP-Link Deco application itself there is a corporate“Skill” for Alexa, and a number of chains is available for IFTTT, but for a bit more complex integration it is better to install the IFTTT application from Google Play (or the App Store, of course).

So, I didn’t have a device with “Alexa”, butBut with the “Google Assistant” in addition to smartphones and Android TV, there is the Home Mini home network. I knew that IFTTT supports the “Google Assistant”, so it’s easy to make friends with Deco. We will teach my “minik” to switch Deco to the streaming priority mode. In the IFTTT application, I created a new applet (this is how IFTTT refers to action chains), chose a condition for Google Assistant to “utter a simple phrase,” indicated the phrase “Change Deco priority to streaming,” indicated a couple of alternative phrases and the answer I want to hear in as a command confirmation. Next in the chain I chose the TP-Link Router (when you first set up, you will need to bind your TP-Link profile to IFTTT), indicated the Wi-Fi network to which the command will need to be applied, saved. Immediately checked: "Ok, Google: change Deco priority to streaming". A few seconds later I heard in response: “Ok, your network ready to stream now“. I check the settings in the application - the priority for streaming is indeed set. Okay, google, thanks!

This way you can link different servicesavailable in IFTTT, with your mesh network. For example, to record the activity of a certain device on the network in Google tables, or to “teach” the same Google Home Mini to report about the appearance of a wife in the network coverage area ”.

Everything went the same way, and even faster - because I did everything for the second time already. Only I added another chain - to switch the priority of the network to normal mode.

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TP-LINK Deco M4 Neighbors

The TP-Link Deco family at the time of writing this review consists of the following devices:

The hero of the review is the Deco M4, Deco M5, Deco M7 and Deco M9.

I have already mentioned that the M5, M7 and M9 look like twins. Deco M4 stands alone. Consider the key differences between the systems:

Deco M4
Deco M5
Deco p7
Deco m9

Dual band

Dual band
Dual band
Triband

2 built-in antennas
4 built-in antennas
4 built-in antennas
8 built-in antennas

Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz
Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, Bluetooth 4.2
Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, Bluetooth 4.2, Powerline (HomePlug AV600)
Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, Bluetooth 4.2, ZigBee HA1.2

Deco M4 is suitable for networking in simpleconditions, or expansion of the existing mesh network. Deco M5 has four built-in antennas against two of the M4, and is designed for a more serious setup than the M4. TP-Link Deco P7 is distinguished by the presence of Powerline technology (HomePlug AV600) for organizing a network connection via an electrical network. Deco M9 has an even greater number of antennas (eight) and three bands for connection, as well as support for ZigBee HA1.2 - a standard that is used when building networks for smart home devices.

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In the dry residue

TP-Link M4 "on paper" loses a bitcolleagues on the technical side, but it has two important advantages: 1) it is cheaper than its counterparts and 2) it can be purchased in a set of two or in one copy. With it, you can quickly deploy Wi-Fi Mesh of two modules in a small apartment, but with a rather complex geometry, as in my example. Or, having bought one module of the Deco M4, make a “regular wifi” - the router functions perfectly separately. To install and configure you do not need any special knowledge: "soft" and "hard" as friendly as possible to a beginner. The main thing is that you can always expand this network with an additional module or modules, or, if you purchase a “older” device later, leave Deco M4 as an extension mesh node of the network. After all, Deco does not happen much.

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3 reasons to buy TP-Link Deco M4

  • You do not want to understand the settings, but quickly “raise” good Wi-Fi
  • Appearance of the device and good internet are important to you.
  • You need additional modules for the existing Mesh-network Deco

TP-Link Deco M4

AC1200 Home Mesh Wi-Fi System

Multifunctional Wi-Fi Mesh Deco M4 canwork as a router, access point or Wi-Fi signal amplifier at the same time. Thanks to the wireless and wired connection, the Deco modules work as one unit, providing high-speed Wi-Fi and seamless roaming.

Buy at Rozetka

Buy at MOYO

Buy in Allo

You can take

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2 reasons not to buy TP-Link Deco M4

  • You are satisfied with your current router / Wi-Fi Mesh
  • You need a system to build a more complex network, such as Deco P7