Electric bills aren’t getting any cheaper if you’ve got a lot of stuff hooked up or living with people who are oblivious to turning things off. That’s what makes the $50 D-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug so attractive to the habitual owner, a good idea for basic control whether it’s on a schedule or at your own whim with just a single smartphone app. Although it’s a relationship that’s about convenience first.
It’s a small but inconvenient truth that starts with the look of the Smart Plug itself. Measuring at 3.4 by 2.4 by 1.4 inches (HWD) and weighing 4.4 ounces you get a white, soft-angled rectangular box that’s unobtrusive when plugged in the top of a dual socket power outlet. There are only two buttons to deal with being the WPS for network setup and a power (I/O) which is able to pass-through power when the unit is turned off manually. And yes, this is a three-pronged outlet device so it’s not ideal for older dwellings.
On the inside, the plug has a built-in thermal sensor and can detect heat output from a connected device. If the device in questions hits a specific temperature threshold the smart plug will automatically turn itself off, and effectively protect the overheating device. When (and if) that happens you’ll be informed via push notification if a plug has shut down, but it’ll be at your discretion to figure out individual device ratings.
The Smart Plug is directly controlled by most current smartphones and tablets using iOS or Andriod, and that’s the only way – there is no workaround, nor the choice of not creating a Mydlink account either. Better get acquainted with the Mydlink Home app because it’ll be your control panel for seeing what smart devices are installed and their product information, much how power each plug is drawing with temperature, and of course, set specific types of power schedules all on the fly. It’s very general as you can take a look at metered usage or personalize their names and icons. By the way, there’s a similar app that’s aptly named Mydlink WiFi Smart Plug which does the same thing, however, it’s being phased out in favor of Mydlink Home so don’t bother getting it.
Despite my disdain of most network companion apps the setup is relatively tolerable. With a Sony Xperia Z3 I downloaded the app and followed the simple onscreen instructions, find a wall output and wait for the status LEDs to blink orange, connect your router either by WPS (the easy way) or manually (connect directly via Wi-Fi), after finding the plug you enter the PIN code or scan the QR box on the included card, and finally everything is ready to go in just two minutes time.
As far as performance goes, you can expect no real surprises as the Smart Plug did exactly what it’s supposed to do. I really had no complaints as I was able to turn my lamp on and off remotely or by leaving it to a preset schedule, everything worked without a hitch and followed any updated command in roughly 10-15 seconds. I decided to press my luck and hooked it to a LCD TV with a PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360 (an older 20GB Premium model) and it reconnected and worked just fine. In order to test the thermal functionality, I cheated and lowered the temperature below 40 degrees (F) to coax the Smart Plug into immediately shut-down, and as anticipated that worked too.
The Wi-Fi Smart Plug is easy enough to embrace if combating utility bills from anywhere is important. D-Link definitely has the cheapest option available compared to Belkin’s suite of WeMo-enabled plugs, but the price for just one of these things is still higher than I hoped and it lacks IFTTT (If This Then That) compatibility for the truly obsessive-compulsive users. Fortunately it gets the job done for home automation in a predictable ‘set it and forget it” approach.