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TP-Link’s new mesh router can control smart home gadgets

TP-Link’s new mesh router can control smart home gadgets

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TP-Link is launching its second mesh router today, the Deco M9 Plus, and it comes with two notable upgrades over the original around speed and smart home functionality.

The first is the more common feature: this is a tri-band router, instead of a dual band one, which means it should allow for even faster speeds. Like most tri-band routers, the M9 Plus sets up a dedicated network for communication between router units, allowing for faster operation for the networks connected to your phone and computer.

TP-Link’s first mesh router, the Deco M5, was only a dual-band model, which is what you’ll usually find on routers, and tends to be a bit cheaper. But at this point, most mesh systems offer both dual- and tri-band options, so there isn’t anything special here.

ZigBee usually requires an additional hub

What is uncommon is TP-Link’s additional smart home features. The M9 Plus also includes support for ZigBee — a wireless protocol used by many smart home gadgets — letting the router connect to a wide variety of low-power devices like smart lights, light switches, door locks, and much more. The router includes Bluetooth support, too.

The router, and any smart devices connected to it, can be controlled through TP-Link’s Deco app. TP-Link says it integrates with Alexa and IFTTT, so you’ll have a lot more options for how to use and control the gadgets you hook up.

You usually need to buy a separate hub to get support for ZigBee devices, so this addition could help TP-Link’s router stand out for people who want smart home connectivity. Though Amazon recently built ZigBee into its Echo Plus, which suggests it could be becoming more common.

A single unit of the M9 Plus will sell for $180 and two-packs will go for $300. That puts it in the same range as similar systems — a two-pack of Linksys’ tri-band Velop routers sells for $300; Netgear has a comparable system for $330; and Eero’s cheapest bundle comes in at $299.