D-LinkWi-Fi Smart Plug
Monitor Your Energy Use
Keep an eye on your energy usage and save a few bucks.
D-LinkWi-Fi Smart Plug
The Good D-Link’s $50 Wi-Fi Smart Plug offers remote control of your small appliances, including scheduling and energy usage stats — a better value than the $60 Belkin WeMo Insight Switch, which has similar features.
The Bad The Smart Plug isn’t compatible with IFTTT, setup was surprisingly involved, performance was unreliable, and the app design could use some work.
This white, single-outlet plug measures 3.5 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 1.4 inches deep. It weighs 4.4 ounces and has a rectangular shape with rounded-off edges. It’s rated for 100 to 125 volts of alternating current (VAC). That means that the outlet should be used to power lamps or other small appliances (large appliances have higher VAC requirements).
The Mydlink Smart Plug app works with Android 4.0 or higher and iOS 6 or higher on tablets and smartphones, and on Wi-Fi and cellular connections. It operates on a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi frequency and you can control up to 10 different Wi-Fi Smart Plugs at the same time using the app.
The $50Smart Plug fits into any three-prong electrical outlet on a wall or a power strip. Like a standard outlet, D-Link’s plug is more functional than it is aesthetically compelling — it probably won’t be winning design awards anytime soon. It does blend into a two-outlet wall unit fairly seamlessly, and I’m guessing that was the intention.
But just when I was about to blame the blandness of traditional outlets for the blandness of this smart outlet, I started thinking about Dyson’s vacuum cleaners and Nest’s thermostats. Both companies have managed to make household objects into design statements rather than something you try to hide in a dark corner. They weren’t satisfied with the uninspired design that dominates their appliance categories, so why should D-Link’s plug look so plain?
D-Link isn’t alone, though. Its Wi-Fi Smart Plug is similar in style to the $50 Belkin WeMo Switch, the $60Belkin WeMo Insight Switch, and the $49 SAM plug. Still, Belkin definitely improved on its plug design between the WeMo Switch and its more recently introduced Insight Switch, so I’m not quite ready to let D-Link off the hook.
D-Link’s Wi-Fi Smart Plug has a power on/off button with LED indicator underneath that lights up green when your connected appliance is on. There’s also a status LED that will glow red when it’s powering on, trying to reset, or broken. It will blink orange during its initial setup or if it isn’t correctly connected to the Wi-Fi network. It will blink green when the Wi-Fi is connecting and it will display solid green when it’s successfully connected.
You can press the power button manually on the switch if you want to power your connected device directly. There’s also a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button. Pressing it and the WPS button on your router, if your router has one, will initiate a connection between the plug and the router. If your router doesn’t have a WPS button, there’s another set of steps you can follow during setup, but you might end up using the Smart Plug’s WPS button anyway; pressing and holding the WPS button until the LED status light turns red will reset your plug to factory settings.
Early setup is about as simple as possible. Find a three-prong outlet that’s in a convenient spot for the gadget you want to operate and plug in the Smart Plug. Then, download the app and follow the steps — this is where things got more complicated.
I had a really hard time actually finding the Mydlink Smart Plug app in both the iOS and Android app stores. In the Google Play store it’s called Mydlink WiFi Smart Plug and in iTunes it’s called Smart Plug.
Once I found and downloaded both apps, setup got easier, but there were still a couple of confusing parts. For example, the setup menu gives you the option of a WPS setup or a manual setup. If you have a router with WPS, then this is fairly straightforward. If you don’t, you have to go the manual setup route. That’s the option I chose and you have to use a six-digit pin code located on a small card that’s included in the box (it’s also on the back of your plug, but that’s plugged in at this point, so that’s no help). After I entered the code, I selected the office Wi-Fi network and it connected.
After setup, I plugged a nearby lamp into the Wi-Fi Smart Plug and was able to control it via the app. I created schedules, checked the lamp’s wattage, and monitored its temperature readings from both Wi-Fi and cellular connections on my5 and a Motorola Droid Maxx.
Things were going well, but then I ran into a curious problem while using the iOS app. You’re supposed to be able to receive reminders based on the schedules you set. However, the enable button for this function was grayed out and I couldn’t slide it over to “on.” I didn’t have the same problem in the Android app.
The biggest issue I encountered, though, happened when I unplugged the Smart Plug. Even if it had only been disconnected for a few minutes, it didn’t always remember the product I had just successfully set up. This happened often enough that I kept the small card with my six-digit code handy, knowing that I would have to start the setup process all over again.
Now, a lot of you will probably pick the product you want to control and leave it plugged in. Just be aware that if you did decide to remove it temporarily (no matter how briefly), the app might not reflect all those steps you completed earlier. I have three different Belkin WeMo products set up in my WeMo app and at various times certain ones are plugged in and connected and others aren’t. Still, every time I reconnect them, they always dutifully reappear in the list of products as if they had been there all along.
While I was initially intrigued by a device that costs the same as Belkin’s standard WeMo Switch, but offers energy usage information similar to Belkin’s more expensive $60 WeMo Insight Switch, D-Link’s Wi-Fi Smart Plug disappointed at almost every turn. Simply put, it has too many inconsistencies to recommend. Consider one of the Belkin smart switches if you want something that actually remembers the products you set up and has the added bonus of IFTTT compatibility