Price (RRP): $89.95 (for twin pack)
No matter how smart we attempt to make our homes, they’re still full of not-so-smart electrical devices. That’s where things like D-Link Smart Plugs come in. You plug one into a power point. You plug a dumb electrical device’s power cord into the Smart Plug. And now on and off comes under the control of an app on your smart phone via your home network.
D-Link sent over a twin pack for review. That’s priced at $89.95. You can also buy them in singles at $49.95 each. Each one operates independently from all the others, so there’s no particular reason why you couldn’t put a hundred in. The limiting factors are likely one’s finances, the complications of managing lots of devices, and of course the 250-ish limit on the number of devices that can be used with a normal home network.
Each D-Link Smart Plug is a box measuring 90mm tall by 62mm wide and 35mm deep. On one side is a standard three pin Australian power plug. The round base of the plug protrudes another 8.5mm beyond the body of the device. It’s down towards the bottom, so the body of the device extends 13mm below the bottom of the earth pin (that’s the one that goes straight up and down).
I mention these dimensions because sometimes power points and power boards are in strange places that may not accommodate things well. But if that’s a problem, you can always use a short extension lead to allow more freedom.
On the face of the device is a three pin power socket. It’s rated at 10 amps. For practical purposes, that’s 2400 watts. It will support basically any electrical thing you can plug into a standard home power point.
Above the socket is a small “soft” power switch. (Soft? It controls things electronically, rather than clicking physical contacts like an old fashioned power switch.) There are also two indicator LEDs, one for WiFi status, the other for power on/off. On the side is another soft button, this one for connecting to the network via WPS (it can also factory reset the device if held in long enough).
Each comes with a little card with a QR code to assist with setting up, along with a very brief quick start manual (it basically says: download the app, tap “Add a new device” and follow the instructions). I was momentarily worried because there were two cards and two smart plugs. Which belonged to which?
The app is mydlink Home. It has a hundred thousand plus downloads and a fairly unimpressive Play Store rating of 2.6. It’s free of course. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to sign up for a free D-Link account. I’d already signed up for that – even though a different app is used – when I reviewed the D-Link Full HD Wi-Fi Camera a couple of months ago. Once I started the app and signed in, the camera appeared in the app as an existing device. When I tapped on it, the mydlink Lite app started up so I could use the camera.
But back to our Smart Plugs. I needn’t have worried about matching the cards to the devices. Both the plugs and the cards had the device’s SSIDs and PIN codes printed on them, so they were easily matched. But I didn’t even need to do that. After telling the app that I was setting up a new device, it told me to scan the QR code. There is a very small one on each plug, and it worked with that.
I just followed the instructions. Pressed the WPS button on the router. Pressed the WPS button on the Smart Plug. After a few seconds the flashing green light went solid and all was done!
Except that it wasn’t. The app couldn’t find the Smart Plug. “Please make sure your device is powered up”, said the app, “and your mobile device is connected to your home Wi-Fi.” Both were. I went into my router’s management page and found that the smart plug was indeed connected to it (under the name “DSP-W215”), so the option of restarting setup didn’t seem attractive. There was a “manual” setup process, but this involved resetting the plug as well, then connecting to it as a WiFi access point and feeding it the necessary information to connect to the network. To which it was already connected.