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I’d been using a Samsung Galaxy 7 phone, so I got the iPad Mini 4 busy downloading the iOS version (just in case) and restarted the phone to clear the app. When I restarted the app, it found the smart plug quickly and wanted to set it up. Go ahead I said. Shortly it asked for the PIN on the card associated with the device.

And kept reporting that “The PIN Code is not correct.” I tried three times with the same result, then I pulled the plug to check that it had the same PIN printed on it. It did. I plugged it into a different power point to see if that changed things.

And that did the trick. Was it the different power point? The fact that pulling it and re-plugging it forced a restart? Who knows. I forced the app to stop, restarted it and it again found plug and asked to set it up. This time the instant I entered the PIN it went straight to the next page, to confirm the time zone. Then a chance to give it a name and a new icon (you can use your own photo library for that if you don’t like the existing ones).

Voila! Done. Except, inevitably, as the device appeared on the list in the app it said that a firmware upgrade was required. A tap got that going.

So while that was doing its stuff, I decided to get the other smart plug going. This time I figured I’d use the non-WPS method. I found the access point, the app connected and showed my home network access points – only the 2.4GHz ones were shown, not the 5GHz ones – and asked me to pick one, then enter the password. Which I did. Then I was to wait until the blinking orange light turned solid green. Which it didn’t.

D Link Smart Plug

Left: You can use the built in icons or your own photos; Right: main page for one of the devices

I repeated the process using the iOS version of the app on the iPad Mini 4. This time it worked perfectly. The LED on the plug changed to green within a couple of seconds, the app found the device and did the time zone, name and icon thing. Followed by the firmware upgrade.

I’m thinking the mediocre app rating (there was no rating for the iOS version – not enough ratings said the App Store) might have a lot to do with installation difficulties. Perhaps with the upgraded firmware they would have been less apparent, but of course you don’t get the upgraded firmware until after you’ve successfully installed the device.

In Use

Those installation wobbles are a real pity, because once you get past them these devices turned out to be reliable and easily usable, and the app – both on Android and iOS – highly effective.

The app presents a list of your devices. There’s room in the list for plenty of them. Each of the smart plugs has a power button next to it in the app so you can switch them on and off very easily.

Tap the individual device and you come to a control and information page for that device. Again there’s a power button at the top. Next is a meter reading, showing the power that’s currently passing through the device. Tap that and you can see a monthly chart showing kilowatt-hour usage. So it’s not just about control, but also monitoring.

There’s also a temperature monitor, and you can set the temperature limit for the device to between 0 and 80 degrees Celsius, with a default of 60.

Left: set a weekly schedule; Right: set the maximum temperature for safety

Most importantly, there are extensive scheduling capabilities. There’s a simple mode and a more complicated one. The latter allows you to specify start and end times on a weekly schedule. You can just tap the schedule to start a range, then drag the end points. Very simple to use.

You can create groups of devices in the app. This doesn’t seem to allow global control, but it does mean that if you have lots of devices you can drill down in a logical way. For example, you might have all the loungeroom devices grouped, so you’d go first to the loungeroom group and next adjust individual devices within that.