D-Link Covr 2202 Mesh WIFI initial Review

How often does your device lose connection to the internet when you enter a spot in your home despite you having bought and setup a powerful WIFI router somewhere in the middle?

It’s frustrating, right?

Now, that’s just the reality of WIFI technology as radio signals do have a hard time penetrating walls or other objects. It’s just physics.

And this is a problem that mesh network technology is here to solve. Mesh network technology is basically the use of multiple connected network devices to provide consistent WIFI coverage for a large area and eliminate blindspots. And when the connected device move from one area of the house to the next, the mesh network knows how to pass the connection to the router that provide the best connection.

In this review, we will be looking at D-Link’s latest WIFI mesh network product for home users, the Covr-2202.

The Covr-2202 is a tri-band WIFI mesh networking product that uses two units to cover 550 sqm of space with WIFI signal. Unlike the dual-band implementation found in other WIFI mesh solution, the Covr-2202 uses a third 5Ghz WIFI band for communication and data exchange between the two units. This frees up the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands for devices to use to connect to the network. This means the connected devices can still stream 4K content, handle large downloads and browse the web without any drop in performance.

The marketing material and the specifications made it to be the WIFI solution to go for. But those weren’t the reasons that I got it.

For me, I got the device because it was an alternative purchase. Initially, I was looking for the Asus Blue Cave WIFI router to replace my previous Asus RT-AC68U WIFI router. I wanted something nicely designed that will complement my new desk, perform well and take up less space. The three antennas of the RT-AC68U were just ugly.

And if Apple didn’t discontinue their networking products and make new ones, I would have gone with their AirPort-series of networking devices.

Sadly, according to the salesperson, Asus Blue Cave was discontinued. He suggested that I go for Covr-2202 because it costs about the same, won awards and performs better. During the conversation, I asked about the Covr-1203 because it looked interesting and fulfilled my requirement for a small router. It turns out the performance wasn’t as good and was an older generation, which kind of defeat the purpose of buying a new WIFI router.

Before I made the purchase, I asked to see the physical product. Lucky for me, there was a display set on hand and the salesperson showed me what it looked like. I find myself liking it and made the decision to buy.

Unboxing

This is the box after removing the plastic. I got to admit it definitely look enticing and cool when compared to other networking products sold by other companies. Most networking companies don’t really bother with making nice packages.

Once you open it, you are greeted to the following sight.

Now that definitely remind me of the packagings used by certain brand of cosmetic products. And after you remove the cover, the two Covr-2202 units greet you. They are welcoming you to take them out of the box.

The white overall and the bronze-like band at the bottom definitely complement my desk that features light wood colour with white metal struts.

And the small size definitely help freed up more space on my desk that I can use for other purpose. Overall, my desk just look less cluttered.

Installation and set up

Router installation and setup is really easy and simple.

Within the box, D-link provided a small card containing instruction on where to download the their official WIFI mobile app. When you launched the app, it comes with instructions that you can follow step-by-step to install and power on the device.

At a specific stage of the setup process, the app will ask for the network name and passwords. You can do it manually or scan the QR code located on the small card. However, it is advisable to set a different network name and password after the setup process is completed.

Although I encountered some issue during the setup process due to my lack of understanding how mesh networking works, I was able to recover from the mistakes and redo the whole setup again within minutes. This is definitely helpful for those who are mostly clueless about networking and simply needed their WIFI up and running in no time.

Performance

My home subscribes to 1Gbps fibre broadband. Therefore, it’s important that we can maximise our use of the bandwidth if not it would be a waste of money. Compared to the old Asus router, the WIFI performance of this new router is so much better. On WIFI alone, I’m able to achieve download speeds that’s more than 500mbps and upload speed of slightly more than 300mbps. And that’s taking into account the overall residential broadband bandwidth tend to be lower since many people are home and using the internet.

With speeds at 500mbps, I can watch YouTube video or Netflix with relative ease and no lag. And I do have at least 5 other devices connected to the same mesh network. So the performance is definitely there.

So for the price I paid, I would say it’s worth it.

Applying minimalism to technology

Technology is a huge part of our lives now whether you like it or not. And it has also start to cause issues in terms of our health and well-being. This is why there is this rise in people talking about digital minimalism.

And I’m here to add my voice to that pool.

It is without doubt that I love technology ever since I came in contact with computers in the early 1990s. There were times when I want to buy every gadgets that I like. And I like to have the latest and greatest. Thus, I would willingly go into debt just so that I can buy that. Best part is, it didn’t matter if I would be maximising my purchase.

But as time progresses and you getting older, it has this funny way of make you relook at things. Getting the latest of every gadget was and is no longer something that I put so much emphasis on. And I came to understand and appreciate the pain associated with earning the money necessary to fund that behaviour. My contact with minimalism late 2017 further change how I look at and own technological products.

Buying the latest and greatest is something that I still do. But, what I don’t do is buying the latest and greatest from every single technology company that I get to know and read about. And what I don’t do is to buy a device just so that it fulfil that one function I care about, which ultimately lead me down the road where I have different devices on hand to serve different purposes. Last but not least, I don’t buy cheap technological products.

And as with all minimalists, the thing that you ultimately own has to improve your life or bring joy. To ensure that, I have to be very clear about my values and make the purchase only when they align with what I care about.

The product’s build quality and design are the first two things I focus on. The product has to feel solid and attention has been paid to every detail. The product has to look great and fit into my existing collections of devices. Then, depending on the context, the product also has to offer better security and privacy than the competition. The product has to be the best in the category the company has intended it for: performance, experience, functions, etc. And last but not least, the product has to be able to help me consolidate, or in other words, reduce the amount of technological products I need to have for various use cases or functionality. Finally, I look at price.

By applying that methodology, it allows me to be intentional about my purchase of the latest and greatest products. And that also meant I end up only buying one specific company’s products because they fulfil all my requirements. So even if the competition offer something even better, let’s say, more features at a lower cost, I ignore that.

Through this manner of applying minimalism, the products I do own are longer lasting and I save resources in the long run despite high cost of the purchase.

To put into perspective, let’s say you pay $4000 for a computer compared to paying $2000 for a computer. With the $4000 computer, due to its higher quality material and better manufacturing process, it last you 3 years. On the other hand, the $2000 computer last you 3 years but require you to send it for maintenance or repair every few months after the first year. When you look at things in this manner, you will realise the process of sending something for repair cost time and money. Then if the computer is your primary machine, you lose productivity too. Not to mention, the emotional impact of having to deal with these kind of inconvenience.

You might think, what if I buy two cheaper computers? Then I will have a backup. Sure, but why waste the physical space and clutter your area? What are the odds of the first computer breaking down that require you to switch? And how often do you switch? Do you want to bring both computers out with you? And what about the time you are going to waste to ensure both computers are running the same software and have the same data?

So let’s say you agree with me and you got a better quality product that contribute to you living happier, help protect the environment and achieve a more focus life. What’s next?

The answer is continue to apply minimalism to the products you already own.

With the rate of technological progress, you will find yourself dealing with lots of junk. Old hardware that doesn’t work anymore, boxes and cables.

For old hardware, you can and should dispose them responsibly if they don’t work. If the hardware works, then sell it off on the re-sale market to get some cash back or give it someone who need it.

As for boxes, well, if they belong to old products that you no longer use, then it’s high time you recycle them. If they belong to products you’ve recently bought, then it’s best to keep them until the end of warranty period so that you have an easy way of shipping the hardware back to the company if there is a need for repair. But don’t let me stop you from discarding it all together.

Then there is the cables. Throughout my life of owning technological product, I always find myself having more cables than there are devices. Not only that, just imagine the sight of dozens of cables running across the floor, on your desks and along the wall. Isn’t that a form of clutter? Not to mention, they are unsightly and pose safety issues. What if you trip over the cables?

There are two approaches to this. And I’m assuming you don’t keep cables that you no longer use.

You can attempt to do cable management. That means you have to spend time and effort to route the cables such that they are out of the way, looks great and still works as you want them to. If you enjoy doing such a thing, then sure, go ahead. But to me, it’s just organised clutter. Not very minimalistic.

The other approach would be to go wireless. Using wireless technology will contribute to your decluttering process because of the reduced need to run cables everywhere. Not only that, it also free up space that could be used for other purpose. Or it could simply be left as it is. An empty space. The latter is definitely a better sight than cables running everywhere.

However, there are several problems with wireless technology.

The first issue is that under certain circumstances, wireless connections may not work as well as wired connection because of the possibility of signal interference. For example, Bluetooth and traditional WiFi both uses 2.4 GHz radio waves. And WiFi waves are much stronger in strength and that could cancel out your Bluetooth signals, causing disconnection. Sadly, there is nothing you can do about that because it’s physics.

The other issue would be security and privacy. Because it relies on radio waves, another person could hijack and listen in on the transmissions between devices. To help mitigate that, you would have to get products made by companies that requires authentication during wireless connection and subsequently encrypt that connection. So far, the only company I know that does this as best as they could for their products would be Apple.

If you are okay with these two issues or that they don’t affect you that much, then there’s nothing stopping you from making that leap.

But that doesn’t mean you get to buy cheap wireless products. They are technological products. Apply the same quality-seeking methodology when it comes to the purchases. This way, you reduce your nightmares, contribute to your quality of life and overall happiness.

Friday Tech News Roundup #29

Below are 10 tech news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

Microsoft advances several of its hosted artificial intelligence algorithms – Microsoft Cognitive Services is home to the company’s hosted artificial intelligence algorithms. Today, the company announced advances to several Cognitive Services tools including Microsoft Custom Vision Service, the Face API and Bing Entity Search. Techcrunch

UK and Australian governments now use Have I Been Pwned – Troy Hunt is turning Have I Been Pwned into an essential pwning monitoring service. The service monitors security breaches and password leaks so that you and your users remain secure. And now, the U.K. and Australian governments are monitoring their own domain names using the service. Techcrunch

Uber is the next big tech company getting into the healthcare business – Healthcare is big business, and tech companies don’t want to miss out just because they’re busy building smartphones, apps, and self-driving cars. Mashable

Skiers and snowboarders, the Apple Watch has a treat for you – Skiers and snowboarders, the Apple Watch is your new best friend. Mashable

Microsoft joins forces with Intel to beat Spectre – In a fresh move to further shore up security, Microsoft is providing Intel’s Spectre fix for PCs with Skylake processors running Windows 10 – with further patches to be delivered for older generation CPUs in the future. Techradar

Don’t get your hopes up about seeing Nvidia’s next-gen graphics cards this month – Previous speculation has pointed to Nvidia being set to launch its next-gen graphics cards later this month, but a new rumor is claiming that this won’t happen – and indeed we may not see a hard launch (i.e. products actually becoming available) until July, or possibly even later. Techradar

Alibaba Cloud Launches ‘Bare Metal,’ HPC Instances in Europe – Alibaba, the e-commerce giant from China, is taking a run at AWS in the global public cloud computing market with new offerings aimed at the surging demand for AI and HPC solutions among European enterprises. HPCWire

GitHub falls victim to largest DDoS attack ever recorded – GitHub was hit yesterday by what is reported to be the biggest distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack ever. According to GitHub Engineering, the site was shut down by the attack from 17:21 to 17:26 UTC on February 28. Afterwards, the website maintained intermittent functionality between 17:26 and 17:30 before fully recovering. Techspot

Mobile upgrade cycles will stretch to 33 months by next year – Market saturation and disinterest due to slowed innovation are just a few of the many hurdles plaguing the smartphone industry. As The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted, slumping sales can also be attributed to the fact that older devices are remaining popular for longer than anticipated. Techspot

Microsoft’s Xbox spring update adds 1440p support and new Mixer features – Microsoft today detailed its upcoming Xbox spring update, which is available now for those who are part of the Xbox Insider’s “alpha ring” group. The most notable addition in the update is support for 1440p video output, which is a popular resolution choice for PC gamers who prefer to keep high frame rates instead of prioritizing 4K visuals. With 1440p support on Xbox One S and X, those with compatible monitors should be to make the most out of 2560 x 1440, or “QHD,” displays. The Verge

Friday Tech News Roundup #27

Below are 10 tech news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

As Stripe backs away from crypto payments, Coinbase offers a new solution for e-commerce – Popular payment enabler Stripe announced plans to end support for bitcoin last month, but crypto exchange Coinbase is stepping into the gap after it released a new option for online merchants. Techcrunch

Apple and Android are destroying the Swiss Watch industry – In Q4 2017 – essentially during the last holiday season – market research firm Canalys found that more people bought Apple watches than Swiss watches. Two million more, to be exact. Brian Heater has more data but this news is quite problematic for the folks eating Coquilles St-Jacques on the slopes of the Jura mountains.Techcrunch

Microsoft’s next Windows 10 update will include high-performance mode – Microsoft is adding a new enhanced power mode to Windows 10 Pro for users who need to squeeze every ounce of performance out of their computer. Mashable

Facebook’s new slogan: ‘If you think we’re not good for your business, leave’ – Facebook is famous for the mantra “move fast and break things.” But these days, the tech giant is all about time well spent, and with that comes a new tagline for everyone to follow: If you don’t like us, leave. Mashable

Intel’s new graphics drivers automatically optimize game settings – Intel is introducing a new feature for its processors with integrated graphics, allowing games to be automatically optimized on systems. The Verge

Apple says new apps must support the iPhone X Super Retina display – Today, Apple informed developers that all new apps that are submitted to the App Store must support the iPhone X’s Super Retina display, starting this April, reports 9to5Mac. The Verge

Facebook using 2FA cell numbers for spam, replies get posted to the platform – Facebook is reportedly spamming some users by text, using a cell number they provided only for use in two-factor authentication. 9to5Mac

Receiving an Indian character crashes Messages and other apps in iOS 11 [U: Mac & Watch too] – There have been a number of cases where sending a particular message to an iOS device causes the Messages app to crash, leaving users unable to re-open it – and a new one has emerged in iOS 11. 9to5Mac

Researchers discover two new Spectre and Meltdown variants – Spectre and Meltdown are two serious, recently discovered security flaws tied to CPU hardware. Techspot

MIT’s new chip makes neural networks practical for battery-powered devices – Researchers at MIT have developed a chip capable of processing neural network computations three to seven times faster than earlier iterations. Techspot

Friday Tech News Roundup #26

Below are 10 tech news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

Apple AirPods are the latest tech product that can allegedly explode – Another tech product, another explosive allegation. Mashable

Some iPhone source code just hit GitHub, and Apple isn’t pleased – Apple’s legal team has been busy. Mashable

10 things you (probably) didn’t know about Apple’s HomePod – Apple HomePod sounds really great, works with Apple Music, Siri is still meh, and it requires an iOS device to set up. The end, right? Mashable

Microsoft is testing authenticator logins for Windows 10 S users – It seems Microsoft may be aiming to ditch passwords sooner than some may have thought. The company first made their anti-password goals clear back in 2015 with the release of Windows 10 which launched with the “Windows Hello” facial recognition system for logins. Techspot

Intel rolls out random reboot-free Spectre microcode updates for Skylake chips – Back in January, we covered Google Project Zero’s disclosure of massive CPU security flaws Spectre and Meltdown. If you’ve never heard of these vulnerabilities before, here’s the gist: Spectre and Meltdown are two serious CPU security vulnerabilities that allow hackers to steal personal data from computers, mobile devices and servers without a given machine’s owner ever realizing it. Techspot

Hacker group manages to run Linux on a Nintendo Switch – Hacker group fail0verflow shared a photo of a Nintendo Switch running Debian, a distribution of Linux (via Nintendo Life). The group claims that Nintendo can’t fix the vulnerability with future firmware patches. Techcrunch

Nvidia up 10% after Q4 earnings beat, says cryptocurrency demand ‘exceeded expectations’ – Nvidia’s successes are continuing to pile on as the company’s gaming and data center businesses drove revenues up 34 percent year-over-year. Techcrunch

From July, Chrome will flag all unencrypted websites as ‘not secure’ – Google’s fight for a more secure internet continues with the announcement that its Chrome 68 update – to be released in July this year – will see all unencrypted websites (HTTP sites) marked with a ‘not secure’ label. Techradar

Surface Pro 5 release date, news and rumors – You might suspect that the Surface Pro (2017) is the closest we’ll ever get to the Surface Pro 5, but if Microsoft itself is anything to go by, you would be dead wrong. The Surface Pro 5 doesn’t exist right now, as Microsoft Surface leader Panos Panay confirmed last May, but it will when more meaningful changes erupt from the geniuses at Microsoft’s hardware design lab. Techradar

Microsoft is reportedly shifting its Windows strategy as it tries to outmaneuver Apple and Google – Last weekend, long-time Microsoft blogger Brad Sams reported that Windows 10 S – the latest version of the operating system, launched in mid-2017 – is, for all intents and purposes, dead. Business Insider