Just how smart can you make a home, and why? There are many buzzwords floating out on the internet, a confusing mishmash of technologies, standards, capability, compatibility. To dip my toes in the water, our friends at D-Link has kindly sent us a review unit of the Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug (DSP-W118) to play with.
Adding some smarts to my home has been a idea in the back of my mind for a long time. Initially the lack of standards, potential interoperability issues and cost of entry made me decide to watch and wait. It was just as well with a failing marriage, subsequently living in 3 different places before finally moving to a permanent address, it was hardly a priority.
It has been on my list of things to do in 2020, and with the COVID-19 isolation period and my network infrastructure finally at a state where I can have a play environment, it was time to take a more serious look at smart home and home automation devices. Smart power plugs would be one of the easiest entry into the world of smart home and home automation. It requires no modification to an existing home, just a standalone device, plug and ... play.
The D-Link Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug is a compact device, designed to fit with a standard Australian duo GPO outlet without consuming so much space that you lose access to the second outlet. It comes in an inoffensive gloss white finish which is neither here or there for the home decor. At the end of the day, the Smart Plug is just a cog in the grander scheme of things and chances are, it will be hidden behind equipment and hopefully forgotten once it is set up to work.
The Quick Installation Guide specifically calls out for the installation of the "mydlink" app as "the product is not compatible with the other mydlink apps". Handy tip to get off on the right foot. I did have to set up a new set of credentials separate from the D-Link WiFi app that I used for the COVR review.
The instructions for setting up the Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug was simple enough. Once the mydlink app is up and running, tap on add a device, scan the QR code in the QIG and follow the bouncing ball. The reality was a little more complicated. At some point the app advised me to turn off my mobile data, I massaged the wifi connection to the Smart Plug and eventually managed to add the device. The little icon came up in the app, but it was not responsive to any commands.
In the end I opt to factory reset the unit, clear the app and started again. This time it took just as long, requiring me to switch off mobile data, but at least it finally responded to the app properly. Within the app I could change the device name, set the device location and the time zone.
Once the device is set up within the app, then you can start to create schedules or automation routines. There is also the One-Tap shortcuts where you can pre-programming what a single tap would do. Mydlink provides 6 pre-programmed events - Away, Home, Bedtime, Wake Up, Panic and "My Tap" (custom).
You can add in automation rules, which I can't as there are no triggering events for the smart plug. You can however set a schedule to turn the unit on and off, which is the point of the exercise. The One Tap allows me to toggle the unit on and off on the front page of the app.
To make life easier though, the D-Link Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. After integrating mydlink account into Google Assistant, the Smart Plug initially would not respond to the Google Assistant actions. I actually got sidetracked after this and when I finally returned to look at what the issue is, it has fixed itself in the interim and started working.
My use case scenario for the Smart Plug was to smarten up the "dumb" Glow Dreaming sleep aid for Master L and Master E. Both boys like to have the light on at night in their room, and not necessarily remember to turn it off in the morning. So in combination with Google Assistant routines I set the Smart Plug to turn on at 8pm on the weekends they are with me, which still allows them to turn on the actual light itself which they enjoy doing. Then in the mornings by 7.00am, it is automatically switched off along with the light we leave to light the corridor.
To be honest I found the mydlink app a bit clunky to use. It all kind of makes sense after a while, and it does guide you to what you need to do to get things running. But with just the Smart Plug and it's understandable limitations, the actual set up of the smarts side was just ... convoluted. However you could skip most of it if it is integrated with Alexa or Google.
There is no Home Assistant (nee hass.io) integration anymore. My research shows that the previous iterations of the Smart Plug did support Home Assistant but that has since been removed. This would make the DSP-W118 model a non-starter if you are intending to get into more serious home automation set ups.
If you are looking for a cheap and fast way to dip your toes into a smart home environment, the D-Link Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug (DSP-W118) is certainly worthy of consideration. If your routine is to be up at a certain time every morning (that's so not me), you could have your kettle boiled (don't forget to fill it with water the night before) or coffee machine warmed up by the time you get out of bed.
There are some limitations in broader integration, but the reality check is, by the time you are ready to get hardcore with home automation, you will be moving on from these kind of accessories. In the meantime, it is not a bad way to figure out what you need and how you would leverage the power.
The D-Link Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug (DSP-W118) has an RRP of AUD$39.95, a list of stockist is available here.
Dimensions (Size) : 58 x 58 x 44/ 64 mm (including prongs)
mydlink enabled : Yes
Wireless Technology : N300 (300Mbps)
Passthrough Port : Yes
Wireless Bands : Single Band