Even if you’ve got older, ‘dumber’ gadgets, there’s still a way to make them function as if they were smart. We recently got a sample of the new TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim into the technology test kitchen, so I enlisted guest blogger Ron Leung to test it out.
TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim review
I had the opportunity to test the TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim and I have to admit this was one of those products I was a little skeptical about. The reason why I was so doubtful is because I’m one of those people who has to double/triple check to see if I turned off the stove, so having a device that controls an electrical outlet made me a little nervous. For the sake of this review however, I decided to put my fears aside and trust technology, I mean one day soon we will be driven around in autonomous cars right? Yikes.
Setting up TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim
Anyway, packaging was very straightforward. It comes in a tiny white box with a simple playing card sized instruction manual with nifty little diagrams.
Since the TP-Link is an outlet itself, the unit didn’t include, or require for that matter, any other cables at all.
I followed the simple step by step diagrams starting with the free TP-Link Kasa app from the App Store or you can use the pesky QR code – which never seem to work easily for me.
Once the app is installed you must then create an account by filling out the usual annoying questions and location services etc. Once you get to the device adding stage you then have to connect to a minimum 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network and then go through the Wi-Fi connections which is again very simply explained, the only tough part is remembering your password if you happen to be like me and left it as the provider’s default. *groan*.
Fast response time with TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim
Once you have officially connected the plug to your Wi-Fi network, the next step is to simply plug something into the outlet. I did my daring first remote communication with an old fan and it worked great! The response time was incredibly fast, as if I had reached over and clicked the switch with my finger.
After I enjoyed a few minutes of glorious cool air, I then tried adding another, mind you, different device which simply involved hitting the plus sign on the app and plugging in another device, in this case a lamp and voila! I could easily control both the fan and lamp instantly. You’re probably wondering why I needed to hit the plus sign if there was only one plug, well if you happen to have multiple plugs around your house it’s just an easy way to name your devices so you can keep track of your plugs. Since I was only reviewing a one outlet plug, I’m assuming the app could easily keep track of multiple plugs.
Using TP-Link Kasa app
The Kasa App (Kasa appears to be a play on the Spanish word ‘casa’ meaning home) is what controls your plug. The app was very intuitive and straightforward to use. There are many options including sleep/wake-up timers, scenes for those romantic date nights and even an activity monitor to keep track of when the plug was used. There are many other options for TP-Link’s other supported devices so it’s a clever way for them to get you to buy the whole family of gadgets including cameras, smart lights and routers. I could easily picture an entire home controlled simply and easily with the app.
Again, since I am only reviewing one plug, I had to think about practical every usage for the TP-Link, I could see something like this being used while on the way home perhaps starting the coffee maker? Or maybe turning on a slow cooker, fan or heater? There are many possibilities for sure. It could also be a way to conserve energy I suppose by having your lights turn on and off at certain times of the day or maybe to deter burglars? There are many possibilities for sure.
Another possible use would be for that forgetful person in your life. Perhaps a senior who forgets to turn off the iron or the stove? It would require some diligence but a very practical use for sure.
As far as the hardware itself, the TP-Link runs in silence waiting to be commanded, and it remains cool to the touch after a few hours of use. The unit has a relatively small footprint and blends in nicely with any décor.
At $29.99 the TP-Link is a relatively low risk buy. I can’t see my entire house with these items since this device in particular only has one outlet. Perhaps a power bar that could have each outlet controlled independently would be pretty cool, hey, TP-Link?
Overall review of TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim
In conclusion I’m probably not at the point where I’d plug a slow cooker or anything potentially flammable into it (I’m still a nervous nelly) but for things which I trust to be unattended like a fan or a low wattage LED lamp, I definitely see the value. If you are really into your homekit, then this will mesh will with your other gadgets.
I feel like smart plugs are just the beginning with this sort of technology. Like adding USB to your outlets, I can see smart plugs already built into the outlets especially since it is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home Assistant. The plug itself is small, stays cool and honestly after a couple of weeks I forgot that the plug was even there. I can definitely recommend this device for a fast and easy way to add smart controls to your older un-connected gadgets.