D-Link are well known for their routers and powerline adapters, but the ‘my dlink Home’ range is their smarthome play - is it up to scratch? Mark Mayne checks it out.
Taiwanese-based D-Link has a long history of creating routers for UK ISPs – chances are you’ll have used one without knowing it at some point – so the business has plenty of historic form in home networking already.
The ‘my dlink Home’ platform breaks with this traditional approach in that it all centres around an app, rather than a hardware hub or router. There is a host of devices that can be connected to the app, and then controlled collectively. It’s a great system – in common with Belkin WeMo or Apple Homekit – that means you don’t need to buy a vast raft of kit to begin enjoying remote control of your house.
Although we’re testing the Smarthome Starter Kit here, you could start with a single D-Link smartplug, for example, and the app if you just want to dip a toe into smart-home tech.
Setup is marred somewhat by a clunky interface within the app, and you’ll have a frustrating time looking for support info, as most of the official guides are very basic indeed.
You’ll need to install the my dlink Home app (ignore the mydlink Lite and mydlink+ apps, they’re for cameras only), scan a QR code with the app or input a unique ID code, then power the device on, connect to its own wifi network, dial in your home wifi details, and finally sit back and wait for the LEDs to turn green.
As you’d expect from a router manufacturer, WPS is offered as an option (where you hit a button on your router to automate this process), but if your router isn’t immediately accessible then this isn’t much help.
The process not as bad as it sounds, but the app does seem to have more steps than Apple Homekit or Belkin WeMo. A neat touch is that the my dlink Home app remembers your home wifi details, and asks – autofill stylee – if you’d like to use them again.
D-Link in use
The D-Link app is a mixed bag. Setup is slightly faffier than equivalent apps, and the rules (My Actions) are less powerful (more on this shortly). On the plus side though, the initial interface is rather nice. You’re greeted with a list of your connected products (My Devices, and an arcane trio icon top right, which toggles a slick little 3D-rotation between your other two options, My Actions and My Places.
My Places lets you organise products into folders, essentially, so if you’re in the position of having several houses, or more seriously a larger, ‘zoned’ system, perhaps with several rooms, this will be a boon.
My Actions should be the meaty bit of the app, which is where we found things slightly disappointing. Unlike other app-based smarthome systems, where you simply install devices then create rules to manage them, in D-Link’s world you can create ‘actions’, by setting a ‘trigger’ event and a response, but you’ll need to configure timers or movement sensors within the device itself.
With a limited number of products – ie: the starter kit – this isn’t too much of an issue, but with a more extensive system this granularity could become irritating – you’d need to configure each device individually if you wanted to set a curfew at 11pm, for example.
That said, the actions available are pretty impressive – the smart socket in particular is genuinely smart, being not only controllable, but it monitors energy usage and internal temperature. In the event of the plug becoming overloaded and overheating it’s simple to create an action which generates an alert and shuts the device off, a great safety feature. Doing the same for energy usage is easy too, although viewing the data means you’ll need to swipe back to the device.
On the compatibility front D-Link hasn’t been idle, supporting IFTTT (IF This Then That), integrating with Alexa voice control and supporting Z-Wave. However this last trick does require a more weighty router-connected hub. Confusingly, although this hub is part of the dlink Home ecosystem, it’s only required to integrate with Z-Wave and to run the impressively specced D-link home security kit and accompanying vast selection of movement, door and window sensors.
If you don’t have the security kit, then IFTTT is the best option for wider compatibility unless you’re in the market for importing an Amazon Echo.
Living with the D-Link system – is it any good?
Tony Armstrong has been living with the D-Link system for several months, but has it lived up to his expectations? Live-Smart quizzed him to find out.
- Name: Tony Armstrong
- Age: 60
- Job: Sound & Lighting Engineer on a cruise ship
- Lives: Married with 2 daughters, both moved out.
- House: 3 bedroom detached house
What made you buy a smart home system?
“I’ve always had one in one form or another. It’s been a hobby of mine to create an intelligent home, mainly because of all the exposure I get to all the cool technology in my job as a sound tech.”
“I like the flexibility and design of D-Link products, there’s an active user base and the system just works. I have outfitted my house with an Amazon Echo (Alexa), Samsung SmartThings hub, Logitech Harmony hub and chose the D-link DSP-W215 as my smartplug of choice because it’s compact, has some unique features such as temperature and power usage feedback, simple to set up and the price is very attractive.”
What’s it like to use on a daily basis?
“The smart system is used on a daily basis of course, everything from creating a sunrise and sunset lighting environment to running appliances.”
Is there anything you find it particularly useful for?
“My wife loves using different fragrances in the house and in the old days we had a rather ornate metal bowl containing water mixed with a few drops of perfume, suspended over a candle so the liquid slowly evaporated. This had to be extinguished every time we left the house due to the fear of fire.
“By using D-Link smartplugs, we went over to a compact electrically heated bowl that melts a special fragrance made of wax and so the system comes on an hour before my wife gets home from work using a timer function in the D-Link app so that the house smells fresh as she walks through the door and all without the worry of leaving a naked flame burning.
“If she has to work late for some reason, she always has the option to remote control all the smartplugs with the app on her phone to override any timers that are programmed.”
What has impressed you most?
“With the D-Link system, not only can I voice control it from Alexa, but also via the D-Link app wherever I may be in the world, plus there’s a very flexible timer routine that can control several on/off scenarios throughout the day and at weekends.
“I like the scalability of the D-Link ecosystem, D-Link cameras are the only ones that offer real time remote streaming that is compatible with the Samsung SmartThings hub alongside Samsung’s own brand.”
How do you rate the mobile app?
“The current D-link mobile app is excellent, simple for the wife to use on a daily basis to directly control the system and also to set timer schedules, yet powerful enough for power users like myself. Something that came as a nice surprise was the fact that I can easily read the temperature of the actual smartplug and see how much power the attached appliance is using in real time. I also like the safety feature of the thermal cut out that cuts the power if the temperature reaches a predetermined level.”
D-Link Starter Kit key features
- Scalable smart home ‘ecosystem’
- Website, Android, iOS and Windows apps for remote control
- Wide range of devices controlled by central ‘free’ app
- Price: Starter kit from £89.99
- Available from D-Link’s web store
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