Saturday 29 April 2017

TP-Link WiFi Smart Plug: Tech review

Plug 'n' play with  connected socket

TP Link smart wifi plug
TP Link smart wifi plug
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Reviewed by our Technology Editor this week is the TP-Link WiFi Smart Plug.

Price: €35 Compare prices

Rating: 4 Stars

Talk of 'connected' or 'smart' homes often causes eyes to roll. It's not just the ludicrous cost that such concepts have historically had, with their expensive rewiring requirements. It's that no one really explained what a 'connected' or 'smart' home really was or why it would be of any use to non-millionaires.

Today, products such as TP-Link's WiFi Smart Plug are recasting the connected home in a pragmatic, everyday light.

At its most basic, this smart plug lets you control whatever is plugged into it to from your phone (via the free TP Link Kasa phone app for either iPhone or Android). At a minimum, this means switching stuff on and off remotely, no matter where you might be.

But you can also program it. For example, you can ask it to keep track of when the sun goes down (by checking online) and to switch itself on when this happens. Or you can set an endless variety of 'scenes' for your home. For example, with a few different smart plugs, you can turn on a home cinema system, a dimmed light in the corner and some other mood-setter with one pre-programmed tap on the phone.

The plug works by connecting to your home Wi-Fi and giving your phone access to it via that route, no matter where you are.

One of the most useful applications is its 'away' mode. If you attach a lamp to the plug, the away mode will make sure that the light switches on and off in a random fashion, making it look like there's someone in the house.

If you buy more than one of the plugs, it lets you name each one ("kitchen radio", "hall light" or whatever you like).

One of the most interesting features is an energy-usage counter. The plug reports back to your phone how much energy the connected device has used and how long it has been running. It even gives you your average consumption and run times that day or over the last seven or 30 days.

It's also made to work with Amazon's Alexa, most commonly used through its Echo gadget. However, as the Echo is not yet officially on sale in Ireland (although it seems to work okay if you bring one over from the UK), this probably isn't as big a selling point as it might be.

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