Smart plugs are some of the simplest but most useful smart home devices – stick them into a plug socket, and you've got instant control over the power supply from that socket. You can turn the supply on or off with a tap on your phone, or set it to run on a schedule.
Lots of versatility then, but the smart plug itself doesn't need to be all that sophisticated. They all do more or less the same job, in more or less the same way... so can the TCP Smart Wi-Fi Plug Socket we're reviewing here do anything to stand out from the crowd?
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This particular model is going to cost you £20 from Amazon which is just about a good a deal as you're going to get for a smart plug. TCP makes numerous other smart home devices, including sensors and cameras, and they all play nicely together.
Another added bonus: compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so if you happen to have a smart speaker around the house (or just a smartphone, in the case of Google Assistant), you can turn the lights on and off with your voice.
TCP Smart Wi-Fi Plug review: set up and design
There's not much to tell you in terms of the TCP Smart Wi-Fi Plug design: it's a big, bulky plug with a big, bright status light on it (a light which glows red when it's on and working, which strikes us as a strange colour choice).
It's going to be difficult to get this crammed into a tight corner but it otherwise does the job as far as the design goes. Note that it only works with 2.4GHz frequencies broadcast by your router – presumably as they operate at longer ranges than 5GHz – so make sure your router can do both before buying (most can).
In terms of setup, all you have to do is download the TCP app for Android or iOS (opens in new tab), and away you go: you do have to register an email address or a phone number, but then in a few taps you'll have your new smart plug synced.
We found adding the smart plug to the Google and Amazon smart home ecosystems was equally straightforward. It means you can control the on/off state with your voice or through the Alexa or Google Assistant app, but you can't do anything fancy like set a timer, which is why you still need the TCP app around.
TCP Smart Wi-Fi Plug review: features and performance
So, can you actually turn the smart plug on and off with a tap on your phone screen? Yes, you can (we tested it with a living room light). Can you also turn the smart plug on and off with a voice command to Alexa and Google Assistant? Yes, you can do that too.
So far so good for the TCP Smart Wi-Fi Plug. Open up the app and you get two more options: Appointment and Timer. The former lets you set certain times when the plug turns on or off (which you can get to repeat across certain days, if you need to), while the latter lets you turn the phone on or off (the opposite of its current state) after a certain amount of time has elapsed.
Actually, it looks like the TCP engineers have got a little confused. In the Android app at least, the Timer option lets you set a schedule, while the Appointment option lets you start a countdown. It's a rather glaring error but we assume it'll get fixed at some point – and it doesn't really stop you using the plug.
We can tell you that the plug is very responsive when you tap to turn it on or off, and strictly obeys the routines that you set it. It would be nice to have some random variation options (to confuse would-be burglars, maybe), but then you can't expect to have everything for £20.
TCP Smart Wi-Fi Plug review: verdict
As we said on the way in, smart plugs don't really need to do much: as long as you can turn it on and off with your phone, that's pretty much job done. The TCP Smart Wi-Fi Plug isn't the best-looking smart plug in the world, but it works as advertised, once you've figured out the app menus.
Some extras would be nice, like information on how much energy you're using, and we did notice a few rough edges in the app (like those Appointment and Timer labels that seem to be the wrong way round). It's hardly the best of the best in terms of smart plugs.
It's inexpensive though, and it works with Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can operate it in conjunction with other smart home kit that's not made by TCP. If you do own TCP lights or cameras or whatever, then obviously it makes more sense to get a TCP plug too.
We were pretty happy with how easy it was to set up the TCP Smart Wi-Fi Plug and how responsive it was through the app. You don't need any kind of hub installing either, which helps. If you want a smart plug that you can depend on for not much money, and you have a lot of room around your sockets, put this on your shortlist.