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TP-Link Deco X20 Mesh Router System Review

Our lives revolve around an Internet connection these days. Love it or hate it, this is the reality we live in. Smartphones keep us locked to the web on the go, but perhaps the most coveted pipeline is the home network. The latest wave of technology around the home Internet has been mesh routers.

TP-Link has joined the fray for this new WiFi router option that also supports WiFi 6. The Deco X20 mesh system pits TP-Link against Amazon’s Eero units as well as Google’s Nest WiFi. The company gave us over a month with the Deco X20 routers and I was left in awe of it.

What is a mesh WiFi system?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the TP-Link Deco X20 Router Specification List, let’s briefly summarize the mesh network. As a relatively new introduction to the average home consumer, it will help lay the foundation for the strengths of this system.

Mesh WiFi is basically two things: a router unit connected to your modem with identical units which then cover the house with the same connection. Each “beacon” or access point device shares exactly the same network settings and the same SSID name and password.

This gives you a much more modular approach to extending your wireless connection seamlessly throughout your home with minimal setup. The “smarts” of these networks like the Deco X20 all duplicate the same settings where your connected devices see the units as the same router throughout the house. It simply searches for the nearest mesh router with the strongest signal and forwards your connected device to the best option.

For example, I installed the TP-Link Deco X20 three-pack in my office, living room and bonus room. This gives me coverage throughout my house with no dead spots. My kitchen is closest to my office, so when I’m in this room, I connect to the main Deco X20 plugged into my modem. When I go upstairs my devices are automatically switched to the X20 bonus room and the same when I enter the living room and the decor is closest.

Equipment

TP-Link has done a decent job of balancing a technical vibe and interior design design with the Deco X20 routers. These cylindrical units can easily sit on a shelf and be mistaken for something like an air freshener or a wireless speaker. This allows the X20s to fit seamlessly into any environment or room location.

The activity takes place at the back of the Deco X20 router. Here you will find a proprietary barrel port for charging and two Ethernet ports. Each of these network ports is capable of data speeds of up to gigabit if your service supports such high speeds.

An omission and a miss are present in my mind. I would like to see a USB connection from a traditional router manufacturer like TP-Link. This could differentiate the Deco X20 from more modern offerings from Google and Eero. The miss is the proprietary charging cable. In the age of USB-C, this should be the norm for any device like the Deco X20 routers in 2021.

To install

Setting up your network with the TP-Link Deco X20 is very easy. The “main” router must be plugged directly into your modem. This acts as the brains of the operation to create the mesh network with the other satellites and to create your basic settings.

After turning on and plugging in your modem, you will need to download the Deco app and create a connection. The application wizard then explains how to get started while creating an SSID for your wireless network and assigning a room to the main decoration.

Your final step is to create the mesh network with additional Deco X20s in your home. Each company has their own idea of ​​how it works, but I prefer the way TP-Link does. All you need to do is plug in the new Deco and wait a few minutes. No separate screen in the app or scanning a random QR code, just plug in and play with the system automatically identifying and adding satellites.

Application controls and web interface

The app interaction created by TP-Link is superb. The Deco Android app is well designed and intuitive to use. From there you can handle multitasking and network management. This includes simple things like renaming a device connected to the network or more advanced things like port forwarding.

While the more advanced use cases are there, I found myself setting up the Deco X20 and forgetting about it. I set a few devices to have network priority and renamed new devices that have generic names by default, but otherwise I left it alone.

Speaking of naming, TP-Link made this pretty easy; if the name is not right for you, it notifies you of every new gadget connected to your network and allows you to change the name. I’ve used it a few times now to click on the notification when adding a device and immediately rename it to something I’ll recognize.

One major inclusion that I like about TP-Link on my Google Wi-Fi system is a web interface. Although this is limited compared to the app, you can still make simple changes, like changing the name of the Wi-Fi or seeing connected clients. It’s a little thing that provides basic safety if you break your phone or the app is unavailable for some reason.

Daily use

The general use has been exceptional. I get consistent network reliability throughout my house which is frankly better than my Google WiFi system. The Deco X20 three-pack covers a slightly larger area of ​​my house and adds WiFi 6 to my house for newer devices with the new protocol. This allows for better multi-device performance and simultaneous connections compared to WiFi 5.

I was happy with my speeds under both wireless and wired connections. My wired Ethernet desktop computer regularly hits my network’s 300 Mbps peak without a problem. Wireless connections depend on my location and conditions, but I often see the same speeds as my wired units.

Another cool feature that TP-Link includes with the Deco X20 is automatic frequency selection. The Deco system communicates with your devices on initial connection and sets the channel to 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. This is set by default for each customer. Most of my home automation devices like Simplisafe and WiFi sockets prefer 2.4 GHz and the software sets them in the Deco app without any intervention from me, the user.

Conclusion

TP-Link has created a truly compelling new mesh network system. You can upgrade to a better network with WiFi 6, great app and great performance. And you can get it all without breaking the bank.

Base price is $ 100 on Amazon for a single unit, $ 130 for a two-pack, or $ 200 for a three-pack. Any of these investments are worth it for the TP-Link X20. Whether it’s upgrading from an existing mesh network only to WiFi 6 or stepping into the mesh network crowd for the first time, these routers won’t disappoint.

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