The D-link Covr-2202 is an AC2200 tri-band mesh router two-pack that takes the original Covr-1203 dual-band fashion statement and ads more power to support more devices and cover a larger area.
Mesh is the flavour of the year as far as home Wi-Fi goes. The
Co-incidentally this review comes immediately after the Synology MR2200AC tri-band router review, and it may be good to read that first as I covered a lot of Mesh issues. In the end, there is little between both routers – Synology with its NAS background is a strong performer. D-Link with its routing and networking background offers a fashion statement as well as a highly competent mesh router. And, under the bonnet, they use similar components.
Assuming you did not read the Synology review first let me just briefly define the limitations of mesh – and what I mean by using mesh in the right location.
- An AC2200 router supports around 10 Wi-Fi or Ethernet devices – and more if they are not in simultaneous use.
- Transmission distance depends on home construction materials and line-of-sight – assume 10-30 metres in a typical Aussie home that has walls, floors, cupboards, windows etc.
- A mesh ‘slave’ can only retransmit what comes over the backchannel to the ‘master’ router. Poor backchannel signal means poor internet and accounts for mist Mesh issues.
- And, do not believe any company’s statements of the coverage area. Not that we are suggesting they are lying – but it is not a perfect world, and it is astute to cut all claims in half!
Review: D-Link COVR-2202 AC tri-band mesh router
Australian website here
The D-Link Covr-2202 is a fashion statement just as the Covr-1203 is (GadgetGuy review here). A nice, beige, squat (200mm), triangle (100x90mm) that is unobtrusive enough to go anywhere – not like my reference router the D-Link AC5300 DLR-895 that is red, loud and proud with eight spiderlike antennae.
In true GadgetGuy style, we are more interested in what is under the bonnet as that dictates performance. The basic spec sheet is here, and we had to go digging for the important stuff.
- Processor, RAM and Storage not listed. It uses the Qualcomm IPQ4019 (same as the Synology MR2200AC) with 16MB RAM and 256MB storage (8MB more ram than the Synology)
- 2.4Ghz (400Mbps) and two x 5GHz x 866Mbps (one 866Mbps is a backchannel).
- 2 x Gigabit LAN/WAN ports – may require an existing gateway to connect to the internet
- The power supply is 12V/2A (24W), but the 240V adaptors are side mounted taking more than own power point space – bad D-Link!
- Six internal antennae (two each for the three bands) MU-MIMO, smart steering, Wave II etc.
- The manual is here
Setup – Master
- Download the Android (tested) or iOS app
- Plug in the master to the gateway and power
- Use the QR code (on the setup card) to link
- It identifies the master, and you set passwords for Wi-Fi login and Admin
- You can optionally link to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant (later)
- Place the slave where you need it.
- Plug in power (those damned wide plugs!)
- When the unit has booted is flashes orange, and you return to the app to add it
- Along the way it checks and updates the firmware
In all, it should be a very painless solution. Only it wasn’t. After a firmware update, it could not find the slave unit and nothing in the app or the web interface was able to re-add it.
So, I did what all techies do – swear and look for the reset hole. Sure enough, starting from scratch worked.
Covr can support up to four units with a single SSID. We did not test this nor if daisy-chaining has any impact on back-channel speeds – it likely does.
You can access the router via the app or a web-interface (192.168.100.1) for a more advanced user interface. Take care any existing gateway does not use that IP address.
Unsurprisingly the D-Link
- NETGEAR Orbi RBK-20/30/40/50
- Plume Super Pod
- Asus Lyra
- Linksys Velop
- TP-Link Deco
We use Network Cell Info to measure speeds as well as the Android Wi-Fi connection indicator.
|Distance/link speed||D-Link AC5300||Covr-2202 Main router||Covr using Tri-band backchannel (2 bar strength)|
|1 metre||1.275Gbps solid (5GHz)||780-866Mbps||750-780Mbps* (5GHz)|
|10 metres line of sight||580-750Mbps (5GHz)||340-480Mbps||240-325Mbps* (5GHz)|
|10 metres (two rooms away)||170-340Mbps (occasional 2.4GHz)||70-117Mbps||70-170Mbps* (2.4Ghz/5Ghz)|
*Remember this is the speed of the link to the slave, not the throughput.
But, the key difference is in the app and user interface. The Synology app and web interface is extremely comprehensive down to the kilobit data transfer rates. It gives techies something to use to get the ideal placement.
D-Link is the opposite. There are no handy data transfer rates, and I miss that. Still, Joe and Jane Average do not want to be bamboozled with science, so that is OK. D-Links web interface offers more flexibility.
And it has the full suite of parental controls, guest Wi-Fi etc.
As for all mesh routers the slave needs to be within 7-10 metres, preferably line-of-sight to get the best available backchannel speed. I repeat my advice to try to use Ethernet cable or Powerline adaptors.
We found no difference between Synology and D-Link suggesting the antenna gain is similar.
The Covr-2202 did get Wi-Fi, albeit at 2.4GHz speeds into our blackspot. On that basis, it is acceptable as an AC2200 router and extender.
Smart home compatible
It is supposed to be Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa compatible
I linked Mydlink account to Google Assistant. It supports a limited set of commands like turn on/off guest Wi-Fi, reboot the router and upgrades firmware. I suspect this list will improve. For the moment it seems more appropriate to D-Link security cameras, smart plugs and sensors.
GadgetGuy’s take – style or substance
Had I not reviewed the Synology just before the D-Link Covr-2202 I would have said the latter’s fashion statement is enough reason to buy. And, at $499.95 it is in price the ballpark of Netgear’s RBK-40 AC2200 dual pack (also using the same Qualcomm processor). I have not seen Netgear Orbi after the pretty abysmal results on its earlier dual-band mesh. It is time to do so.
So, it is hard to give a clear winner in this category. The worst I can say is that it is fit for purpose and the best is that it looks good, does what it promises (apart from coverage area) and it comes from a respected specialist company. Provided you read all my mesh caveats and understand how it works then you will get what you want.
Me – I am not convinced Mesh is the panacea yet.
I am waiting for Wi-Fi 6 – AX and D-Link’s PowerZone!
D-Link has the mother of all AC5300 modem/router – the Cobra. Its firmware now supports PowerZone for all the things Mesh was for. I understand its AX 6000, and 11000 routers will support PowerZone as well.
All you need to do it add D-Link AC12000 or DAP-1860 AC2600 MU-MIMO range extender. Then you have a V8 supercar controlling most of your devices and plug the extenders into a powerpoint (or Ethernet point) where you need them. Of course, this is a more expensive option but the only real option for a larger 400-600+ square metre homes.