iTWire wrote previously about the new Covr 2202 units. This is the review promised in that initial announcement.
TL;DR – this is a very flexible, very fast Wi-Fi solution. Highly recommended.
In the box
There are two Covr units in the shipping box, one of which has a red sticker "Covr Point A" (this is important). There are two wall-warts (one for each Covr unit), a RJ-45 ethernet cable and a "Quick Install Card".
First (minor) problem – the wall-warts are constructed sideways. They take up too much space to share adjacent sockets on a power-board. Yes, a minor irritant, but you'd think manufacturers would know the size and shape of an Australian power socket by now!
The "Quick Install Card" contains just two useful things. An invitation to go to the App Store or Google Play to download "D-Link Wi-Fi" and a QR code with a clear hint that it will be accessed via the app.
Despite this, once iTWire gained access to the online user manual, it was clear that configuration could be performed via an ethernet-connected Web browser. This review was written based on set-up using the app. Note that WPS is also supported, but was not used.
Once the app is installed and running, the user is invited to select "install new device", and then scan the QR code on the Quick Install Card (this QR is also on a sticker on the base of both Covr units). The QR code provides the name of the network access point and the initial password.
The device labelled "Covr Point A" should be connected to an existing broadband modem using the provided RJ45 cable. The "A" unit is the primary device while the other is the slave. The instructions insist that the broadband modem be switched off while making the connection – in the review situation, the Covr was connected to the existing WiFi / ethernet router and no power cycle was required.
Plug in the wall wart and connect to the Covr unit and depress the very small power switch in the recess under the Covr (iTWire could not find this switch for a while – the next steps took a while to complete!!)
The Covr unit will start up – this takes perhaps a minute. If necessary (connecting to an ADSL service for instance), the device will need to establish a PPPoE connection. This was not necessary in our situation.
A couple of times we were warned that there was a communication conflict between the phone's 4G and Wi-Fi connections. It was suggested we temporarily disable 4G and this addressed the problem.
At this point, the user is invited to create their own SSID and password – it's refreshing to have this option provided, so many systems make this a difficult option. You are also expected to create an admin password which would be used for the Web advanced configuration screens.
Finally, the second Covr unit should be located at some distance, plugged in and turned on. When active and properly paired, the main light will change from blinking orange to solid white.
Configuration is then complete.
Unlike using a range extender, the Covr units (it is possible to create a mesh with up to 4 units) appear as a single Wi-Fi network with a single SSID and password. Further, users may configure a guest SSID and password to permit temporary access – it is a very easy step to disable this when not required.
Many of the advanced features are accessible only via the Web interface, but from the app it is possible to make simple changes such as setting up an access schedule (unfortunately this appears to be a global setting and cannot be configured for individual devices – kicking the kids off in mid-evening would be very useful!), rebooting or resetting to factory settings, modifying timezone and the admin access password, and similar functions.
Via the Web interface such features as IP address configuration (for v4 and v6), DHCP and QoS services may be configured. Further, there is an integrated firewall that will manage most basic security tasks. In addition, the Covr supports both whitelisting and blacklisting of websites and Port Forwarding.
There are many other features – the User Guide covers them in some detail.
The current home Internet access is via a 100Mbps NBN connection. Prior to installing the Covr units, the household made use of a Wi-Fi router provided by Optus and a range extender (bought cheaply at a discount computer retailer). At the location this review was written, the range extender offered a stronger signal.
The following table shows performance ratings. All tests were performed with a laptop connected via the method in the first column, using speedtest.net (with a connection to a server locally in Melbourne). Each value is an average of 10 tests and is expressed in Mbps.
|Optus Mobile phone (4G connection)||13.5||14.4|
|Fixed ethernet connection||94.0||38.2|
Note that a couple of the Covr tests were significantly slower – it might be assumed that someone else in the house was using the connection. With those values removed, the download speed for the Covr was identical to the fixed ethernet connection.
This is an amazingly fast Wi-Fi connection. The promotional material speaks of a broad signal bandwidth (a Wi-Fi signal analyser demonstrated this very clearly). In addition, D-link claims a high-speed backhaul connection. All of this is very visible in the statistics shown above.
The initial 2-unit package retails for $499.95 and is well worth the money.