Mesh Wi-Fi networks are all the rage today, with everyone from Google to Linksys to Securifi introducing new routers that can also be configured as access points in an effort to blanket your home with wireless connectivity. D-Link is taking a different approach. Rather than building small unobtrusive devices that blend into your home décor (in part by hiding their antennas), D-Link’s Covr product line is based on a conventional-looking router with loud-and-proud antennas that pairs with less-obtrusive range extenders.
Unlike a mesh network, where the router and several access point all talk to each other, D-Link’s Covr system will—at launch, at least—operate in a hub-and-spoke topology: Each access point (AP) will establish a connection directly to the router, but APs won’t communicate with each other to form a mesh. The $300 Covr Wi-Fi System (model DKT-883) consists of a 4x4, AC2600, dual-band Wi-Fi router (model number DIR-883) pre-paired with a 2x2, AC1300, dual-band Wi-Fi range extender (model number DAP-1655). D-Link says a future update will enable these components to operate as a true mesh network, but it didn’t provide guidance as to when that would happen.
As it stands, consumers will be able to expand the network’s range by deploying additional range extenders—including powerline models—but all of the APs will share the same network name (SSID). The network will automatically direct each client to attach to whichever access point offers the strongest signal, and the router will automatically balance its workload by steering clients to either its 2.4- or 5GHz frequency bands.
To eliminate stubborn Wi-Fi dead spots in larger homes, D-Link’s $199 Covr PowerLine Wi-Fi System (model DHP-W732AV) uses a pair of PowerLine AV2 1300 adapters. Plug one adapter into an AC outlet near the router and the other into an outlet in the room you’re having trouble with, and you’ll have a 1200Mbps wireless access point with the benefit of a hardwired ethernet connection to the router using your home’s existing electrical wiring. Each powerline adapter is also equipped with three gigabit ethernet ports, so that you can hardwire a smart TV, computer, media-streaming box, or other client to your network.
MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input/multiple output) technology will be supported right out of the box for client devices that also support MU-MIMO. Consumers will be able to add more range extenders to the network, but D-Link did not announce prices for individual components. D-Link expects to ship the Covr Wi-Fi System and the Covr PowerLine Extender in the second quarter of 2017.