Slow internet speed can be a source of endless frustration, especially when movies buffer right in the middle of an action scene and when your character unintentionally rubber-bands around a map in an online game. A smooth online experience is made even harder to achieve when the network is shared by an entire family, each with their own satchel of devices that take up bandwidth.
The introduction of the more adaptable Wi-Fi 6 standard has helped improve data flow and when coupled with a mesh system, brings smooth traffic across the entire home. Wi-Fi 6 is the new standard, offering not just faster Wi-Fi compared to Wi-Fi 5, but also better data streaming efficiency to prevent data congestion. This is especially important in a world where a hybrid work environment has become more common, where it’s possible that a single Wi-Fi network has to support movies streaming in the living room on Netflix, and music streaming in another room, while someone is gaming online, while another is stuck in a corner having a Zoom meeting. Even if Singapore has the fastest fixed broadband connection speed in the world, a fast network still needs the right hardware to support it.
In comes the TP-Link Deco Voice X20, a dual-band mesh Wi-Fi 6 system to try to make some noise, in that it has nodes that also double as smart speakers. Design-wise, each Deco Voice X20 node is a white cylinder, similar to other Deco models. The Deco Voice X20 has a red stand, which presumably helps with the sound quality of the 5W speaker. There are four buttons on top of the node, two for volume control, one to mute the microphone, and one to wake up Alexa. The design is classy, and each node has a 105mm radius and a height of 170mm, making it easy to find unobtrusive spots for them around the house.
With a maximum speed of 1,201Mbps for the 5GHz band and 574Mbps for the 2.4Ghz band, the Deco Voice X20 is not fast by the latest Wi-Fi 6 standards, and can be seen as more of an entry-level mesh system for those who are looking for an upgrade from their Wi-Fi 5 system while saving space by having the nodes work as smart speakers as well. The ease of setup lends credence to that idea, as each node has two Gigabit Ethernet ports on its back, and once one of the nodes is plugged into the modem and a power source, users just have to download the Deco app.
After creating an account or signing in, users can then name their network. The app will then find the Deco Voice X20 through Bluetooth. Other nodes and smart devices can then be added by tapping the + on the top right corner of the app. It helps that the Deco app is really well-designed, so smart actions and shortcuts can be added, with options to add devices to the blacklist, and change the network password.
For parents, there’s also the option to monitor individual devices’ data usage, and for those looking to have parental control features, you can set up each member of the household with a profile, set online time allowances, and even block certain sites. Sadly, these features aren’t free and are available under the HomeShield Pro subscription service, at S$8.98 fee per month. It is not a necessary feature, but for those who want that added control, it is definitely worth considering. This is a level of convenience that should be the standard for Wi-Fi systems going forward.
As far as performance is concerned, based on the results from Speedtest.net, a laptop linked to the Deco Voice X20 hits an average download speed of between 360 to 450 Mbps, and an average upload speed of between 160 to 300 Mbps. On an iPhone 12 Pro Max, the average download speed was between 400 to 500 Mbps. Since it’s a Wi-Fi 6 system, the mesh network is able to handle more devices on the network at once, though we’re hard-pressed to test out TP-Link’s claims that the Deco Voice X20 can handle over 150 devices. We tested the connection speed while having four devices play 4K YouTube videos simultaneously, and the results were an average download speed of between 320 to 400 Mbps on the laptop. Sure, it’s hardly pushing the 150 devices electronic smorgasbord, but it simulates the performance of the system in the context of a nuclear family of four.
When the devices are one room away from a node, the download speed of the laptop and smartphone hits between 260 to 340 Mbps, and between 330 to 440 Mbps respectively. This is not blisteringly fast, but it is definitely a comfortable and respectable connection speed, and more than ample for most use cases. Of course, for those who want even more complete coverage either due to having too many walls between rooms or due to having a spacious house, a 3-pack may be a better option compared to the 2-pack.
The two-in-one nature of the nodes also taps into the spread of the Internet of Things (IoT), where households are introducing more and more smart devices that will each take up bandwidth. The built-in Alexa voice assistant also helps households manage their range of smart devices more conveniently.
The four-microphone array in each node picks up voice commands well, and can be activated easily without shouting even when a room away with the doors open. Also, while the 5W speaker is nothing to write home about, it is adequate and clear enough. Those who are less fussy may even be satisfied with using the Deco Voice X20 to stream their playlists from Spotify. There are no complaints to be had here as far as functionality is concerned. While the speaker is unimpressive, it is designed to primarily serve as an IoT control centre, and in that aspect it is great.
A 2-pack retails at S$336, and is able to provide consistent coverage to an average 4-room flat in Singapore when compared to wireless routers. This is the Wi-Fi system of choice for those who have many smart devices at home and are looking for an upgrade to the new Wi-Fi 6 standard while being convenient and fuss-free when it comes to setup and management.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
The Deco Voice X20 is the Wi-Fi system of choice for those who have many smart devices at home and are looking for an upgrade to the new Wi-Fi 6 standard while being convenient and fuss-free when it comes to setup and management. The built-in Alexa voice assistant is a big feature, and thus the system should be considered by those who find themselves wanting a space-saving two-in-one device.
Aesthetics - 8/10
Build Quality - 8.5/10
Performance - 9/10
Value - 8/10