There are two important things to take away from this TP-Link Deco Voice X20 review:
1. This is a great mesh router system for a small or medium-sized household
2. Each TP-Link Deco Voice X20 unit doubles up as an Alexa smart speaker.
We have previously reviewed the TP-Link Deco X60 which is a slightly more powerful system, it impressed us at the time, so how will the TP-Link Deco Voice X20 stack up?
To cut a long story short, this is one of the best mesh networks for smart features but it’s also reliable and will help to eliminate Wi-Fi dead spots around your home. If you live in a multiple-story house and want consistent coverage in every room, buying one of these systems makes much more sense than buying one of the best wireless routers.
You’ll have to be sure you’ll make use of the built-in Alexa voice assistant though because if not then you’ll be spending way more than is necessary.
TP-Link Deco Voice X20 review: price and availability
Available to buy now the TP-Link Deco Voice X20 comes as a set of mesh Wi-Fi routers. You can choose to buy them individually, as a set of two, a set of three or a set of four for those who live in a very big house.
Directly from the TP-Link store, for the set of two, you’re looking at paying $340 in the US, £279.99 in the UK, AU$545 in Australia.
If you don't want the extra Alexa smart speaker functionality but like the look of this mesh networking kit, a set of two basic TP-Link Deco X20 mesh routers start at $230 in the US, £200 in the UK and AU$365 in Australia. It’s a lot cheaper to go without a built-in Alexa.
TP-Link Deco Voice X20 review: design and setup
In the TP-Link Deco Voice X20 box, there are two Deco Voice X20 units, an ethernet cable, two power adapters and the Installation Guide. The TP-Link Deco Voice X20 units are simple white cylinders with a bright red stand holding it up. The stand isn’t just aesthetic, it allows the sound from the speaker to disperse in all directions, improving the acoustic performance.
On the top of the units, there are four different buttons and four microphones. The buttons let you adjust the volume, call Alexa and mute the mics. Around the top of the cylinder, there’s Alexa’s famous circular LED light which illuminates when you speak to the assistant or put it in setup mode. There’s another tiny LED light that shows the connection status of the TP-Link Deco Voice X20 router itself.
If you turn the TP-Link Deco Voice X20 around, there’s a small red panel that houses two Gigabit ports and the power input. You’ll need to use one of those ethernet ports to hook the system up to your modem, but the others can all be used to connect to some of your devices through a wired connection, whether those are desktop computers or games consoles.
Setting up the network was very easy. You just need to download the Deco app from the iOS App Store or from the Google Play Store if you use Android (there is a QR code on the box that takes you straight there). Then you plug the first TP-Link Deco Voice X20 unit into a power source and connect it to your router or modem using the included ethernet cable.
When you open the app you’re prompted to either login to your account or create a new one. After that, name your network and let the app find the device using Bluetooth. That’s it, the app will do the rest for you!
You can then add the other TP-Link Deco Voice X20 router by plugging it in and tapping the + button, it takes a matter of seconds to hook it up to the mesh network.
TP-Link Deco Voice X20 review: hardware performance
A powerful piece of kit, the TP-Link Deco Voice X20 (AX1800) packs in a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor. All of the routers work together to form a single unified network under the same name. Because it uses Wi-Fi 6 you should be guaranteed the fastest possible internet from your compatible devices. Most of the best smartphones and the best laptops use Wi-Fi 6 nowadays.
As you move around the house, the network will dynamically choose the best route and band for your devices depending on what they do and how much bandwidth they need. For instance, consoles, smartphones and computers will benefit from the best speeds possible so will be automatically hooked up to the faster 5GHz channel, while tech like smart lights will be put on the 2.4GHz channel.
According to TP-Link, the TP-Link Deco Voice X20 should have the capacity to handle up to 150 connected devices at once across an area of 4,000 ft². My flat is nowhere near the size of that but even so, I do often get rocky Wi-Fi signal in the bedroom which makes it difficult to load Netflix or even scroll the web, so I placed that's where I placed the second TP-Link Deco Voice X20.
The dual-band speeds can reach up to 1,201 Mbps on 5 GHz and 574 Mbps on 2.4 GHz which admittedly isn’t as fast as some other standalone Wi-Fi routers, like the TP-Link Archer AX90 (AX6600) for example. If you have a big house with hundreds of connected devices, you might want to consider something a little more powerful.
Using Speed Test by Ookla, my Wi-Fi 6 smartphone reached 74.1Mbps download speeds and 18.5Mbps upload speeds in the same room as the TP-Link Deco Voice X20. In another room, behind a thick wall away from the router, the download speeds dropped slightly to 58.9Mbps so it managed to hold its own there.
In the bedroom, where before using the mesh network, speeds were very low at about 12.5Mbps download and 14.6Mbps upload, using the TP-Link Deco Voice X20 mesh router boosted them to 61.8Mbps download and 18.5Mbps Upload - so all of my Netflix woes have been solved!
TP-Link Deco Voice X20 (AX1800) review: features and software
Outside of this being a mesh network, the biggest and most defining feature of the TP-Link Deco Voice X20 is the fact that the units double up as Alexa smart speakers. Like you can with any Alexa device, you’ll be able to set timers, hear the weather forecast, play music and get answers to all of your burning questions as well as control your smart home by voice.
I wasn’t sure I’d make use of having Alexa built-in, but I was wrong. The TP-Link Deco Voice X20 units I had set up proved to be really useful. I used them a lot as a voice assistant, especially for smart home control. If you already have an Amazon Alexa smart speaker in every room then this will be pointless, but if you don’t and you’d like to have more, then this is a way to do so without taking up more space and wall sockets than you need to.
The four microphones on the top of each unit do a great job at picking up your Alexa voice commands from quite a distance, and even with other background noise. In contrast, the 5W speaker system is not strong enough or accurate enough to replace a home speaker, but it will be good enough to hear clear answers to your questions. While the volume does go quite high, you won’t be soundtracking a party with it because the louder it goes the more the sound is distorted.
To manage and monitor your network, the Deco app is really intuitive to use and groups all of your Deco devices under one overarching network. You can easily take a look at how many devices are connected, as well as what’s connected and how much internet each device is using at any given time. You see all of this information even if you aren't at home.
From a security perspective, the Deco app has a lot to offer. Included with the TP-Link Deco Voice X20 is the basic HomeShield plan which protects your devices from cyber threats using network scans. Plus every time a new device connects, you get a notification on your phone.
You can choose to pay a subscription fee for HomeShield Pro, which will set you back $5.99 / £5.99 / AU$9.99 a month. You'll get more advanced features like security for IoT smart home devices, time limits, filters for malicious content and 30 days of internet usage statistics.
HomeShield also includes some parental controls. You can create profiles for each member of the family. With those profiles set up, you’ll be able to set custom time limits and online time allowances per person or per device. It will also allow you to filter the types of content they can access according to what’s appropriate. You’ll even be able to see what sites they visit online and for how long.
TP-Link Deco Voice X20 review: verdict
As far as mesh networks go, the TP-Link Deco Voice X20 provides reliable Wi-Fi coverage across your whole home. It’s not the most powerful mesh networking kit you can buy but in small or medium-sized homes it will certainly do enough to make sure weak spots are eliminated.
One major benefit of this system is the level of control you get over the network and your connected devices, especially if you sign up to HomeShield Pro.
Combining a smart speaker with a mesh router isn’t a new concept, it has been done before. You’ll be saving on space, rogue cables and wall sockets by getting a two-in-one device.
You will have to consider that having those extra smarts does make this a much more expensive piece of kit, which will be completely unnecessary if you already have an Alexa speaker in the rooms where you’ll place the units. If you don’t already have them there and you plan to get them eventually then this is a no-brainer - killing two birds with one stone.
Do you need an Alexa smart speaker in the hallway? Probably not, but it could still be useful to have, especially if you own a lot of smart home tech.
TP-Link Deco Voice X20 review: also consider
If you know you don’t need the smart speaker functionality, then the best mesh router system is still the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 - here at T3 we like it so much that it actually won Best Home Networking Tech at the T3 Awards 2021. You’ll get excellent coverage and speed, quick and easy setup as well as plenty of wired ports, although the units themselves are pretty chunky.
If you’re on a tight budget, the Eero 6 Mesh Wi-Fi network is much more affordable. It’s not the most advanced or the most powerful but it helps to stretch your network to each and every corner of your home to eliminate weak spots.
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