Hands-on Review: D-Link Covr Seamless Wi-Fi System C1203
Having already examined D-Link's AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender, which can stretch your Wi-Fi along your house in one direction, how can you get the same sort of coverage throughout your house?
D-Link's Covr Seamless Wi-Fi System creates a Wi-Fi coverage grid all over your house. The kit comes with three Covr points, enough to cover 500m² of living area.
Unlike a range extender, D-Link's Covr connects directly into your modem, taking full control of your Wi-Fi needs. Set-up is painless, in that you connect the Covr point labelled “A” to you modem and switch it on. After a while it starts to glow red and then you are in business.
The other Covr points (which are paired together at the factory) just need to be plugged in at strategic locations. If they too, after a while glow white, your network is working. Connecting to the system is done using the default SSID and password included in the kit. All your settings, including customising the network ID and password is done either via the D-Link Wi-Fi mobile app (which is available for Android and iOS), or via a web-based interface on a PC.
Whilst I can't really see any other way of doing it, the location of your satellite Covr points is dictated more by the availability of power points rather than optimal location. The Covr points are not designed to be hung on the wall, so you also need flat surfaces nearby to position the devices close to your power points or put up with the cabling. As an aside, the devices are powered via the new USB-C connectors.
Due to the more overt positioning that you are likely to require for optimum use, the kit comes with a couple of alternative coloured plates that are intended to be interchangeable to match your room décor. The default colour is a rose gold, with the alterative plates being a plainer gold and metallic blue.
Each Covr port also has two Gigabit Ethernet sockets for wiring devices directly into your network. Remote from the base, this allows non-Wi-Fi devices easy access to your network. At the base station, if like me you use switches to expand your wired network to multiple devices, you just connect into the base Covr port and your wired network works as it would with a regular router.
Additional wireless devices can be easily added via the WPS button located on each of the Covr ports. This means that you are never far from getting new devices onto your network.
Probably the most important thing to understand about the Covr Seamless Wi-Fi System is that it functions as a router. It's doesn't extend your existing Wi-Fi network (although you could use it to do so). The user-interface is complete with all the functions that you would expect from a router: DMZ, port forwarding, etc. There's a comprehensive built-in access management system which can be used for parental control, restricting device access to the network at certain times.
Performance-wise the devices are rated as AC1200, which is a max of 1,200 Mbps. This should be fast enough for most but may disappoint those of you that accept nothing short of AC2600. The comparison is a little unfair considering the relatively inconspicuous Covr ports compared to a six- antennaed snarling beast of a router. The Covr System is MU-MIMO (multi-user multi-input multi-output) compliant, which ensures a smooth flow of data across the network from many devices.
Practically speaking, my wired cable internet, according to Speedtest.net, was getting me a Ping of 11, 88.50 Mbps down and 1.53 Mbps up, via an AC2600 Wi-Fi router I got 42.33 Mbps down and 1.36 down. The Covr system netted me a ping of 12 25.48 Mbps down and 1.36 Mbps down. For the AC2600 Wi-Fi speed I was sitting right by the router, the other side of the house saw the speeds drop by a quarter. The Covr speeds were pretty consistent throughout the house.
When connected to you network via the Covr system, it dynamically adjusts your access point according to signal strength. Unlike range extenders, which need you to sign on at each location. Not only do you get a consistent speed, around the house, you can wander around without fear of losing your wireless access. Of course, the actual wireless performance depends very much on the operating environment.
D-Link Covr Seamless Wi-Fi System is a very viable alternative to a normal router. It offers fast, consistent wireless coverage throughout the house. The user-interface has plenty of customisation features for more technically astute users, whilst still being easy for novices to set up.