A disappointing day 1 with the Devolo Magic 2 WiFi next
The Devolo Magic 2 WiFi next has some features that really caught my eye. Among these were Mesh WiFi, using power outlets and your home’s electrical system for back-end network traffic, and what I’d hoped would be the end of me having to rely on my still beloved, but completely unsupported, Portal WiFi router.
So hey, this is a review in progress and as such may be completely nullified by the manufacturer telling me I’m doing something wrong. Take this as you will. I know most blogs are here to sell or bash but that’s not us. This is an experience from the first day and it wasn’t great, but it was interesting enough that I worked on it a long time.
Let’s start with two numbers. Those numbers are 5 and 21. The first is how many hours from start to finish this was worked on today. 11:14 or so to 4:36. 21 is the number of times according to my watch that I went up a flight of stairs during the first three hours I was working on this earlier in the day. We’ll get to that in a few. Let’s go over what the setup was and what was supposed to happen.
I put a Devolo Magic 2 WiFi next LAN adapter on my gig switch on the second floor (regularly gets speed tests in the 700mbit, it works.) I placed one of the WiFi adapters centrally in the hallway on 1. Placed another of the WiFi adapters in the basement.
I did a quick speed test with my Portal, achieving 60-80mbit at my mailbox 25 or so steps out the front door, and pretty much dying 10 steps from my back door. This was my baseline, and with a claim from the contact that the DM2Wn could reach up to 1600 feet I was really excited to try this out. My mailbox was about 100 feet from the Portal, through a brick wall and plaster. If I could get a little further that’d be cool.
Setup was initially pretty easy – I started with the starter kit, they’d sent over a few extra units to show that I could have 5-8 total. With 3 in the house and a couple of things connected and not really seeing any issues I decided to go outside and see how much farther my range was and nope. There’s a signal outside to about 4-5 paces out front and that was that. I had no WiFi out back.
Now, my house is a difficult test kitchen. It’s a 1940’s house, plaster walls, brick exterior, and wiring that was updated in the 80’s for the most part. That, however should not have negated that the signal I had did not seem to be passing me off as I moved around. I remained steadfastly connected, I believe, to whatever access point I initially connected to and as the signal never dropped I never got shunted to another.
I had full bars, all the time I had full bars until I went outside, and out there I just lost connection. Full bars do not speed make, you’ll recall.
I’d explained what my house situation was, and they provided me with the base unit and 3 additional outlets. I started attempting to set these up using the app and, you know we’ll skip everything that happened and cut to an hour or so later with me wanting to break things, every time you choose add device in the app you end up losing a couple of the units. It doesn’t tell you in the app that this will happen. Let’s just skip that lesson and learn that once yuo’ve got any working network, you plug in your new one, wait a couple of minutes until lights are solid, go to a working old one that’s working, press the home button, go to the new one, press the home button, bam. That’s how you connect after you’ve got the network set up. Don’t listen to the app. Don’t have to gather all the units up again and again like I did.
Anything you do in the app or the Windows app to add a unit ends up resetting the network.
I set up a few more, stashed them at every corner of the house. Still had no WiFi to speak of outside of the house. This is major complaint number 1. Wall penetration, channel steering, and AP handoff just don’t seem to work. At least not speedily. WiFi was not working well which I thought initially was quite a bit due to the Powerline side of things not working well. (see below screenshot)
With the Windows software you can see that other than the “Upstairs” unit the speeds are pretty low. It’s straight up not working on the best of ancient wiring. I can’t fault it for that, however I can fault it for being slower than my ancient Netgear Powerline adapters, plugged into the same outlets. Odd that 6 year newer technology is pulling 117-215 mbps and the Netgear Powerline from 2015 or so was a little over 300.
Side note – the 117mbps basement AP is what the camera I attached decided to connect to. Same with the Google Home based on WiFi clients listed. It’s in the basement (I know, my naming conventions are strange.) The things that connected to it are on the first floor in a room with one of the adapters sitting in it. I’m a little bit dubious that going through a floor and two walls is a stronger signal than 11 feet of open air to a unit that isn’t behind anything, but that’s where things connected.
So, all things considered sitting 7 feet away from “Upstairs” (roughly 13 feet of electrical wiring it looks like,) which shows 1249mbps backend I should be able to get a decent WiFi speed. I’m not. Speed tests top out at 80mbps. I connect to the Portal which is a floor away, behind a solid wood piece of furniture, I’m getting 300+. The Magic 2 LAN 1-1 is plugged right into the gig switch. I plugged a laptop into the same port and got over 200mbit (old laptop, incapable of much faster).
I really worked hard troubleshooting this only to find this seems to be the common complaint on Amazon reviews – very slow WiFi performance, but pretty stable. Now, here’s the thing, 80 mbit for a single device or so isn’t bad, but when you’ve got multiple and all of them across all bandwidths are coming out at 80mbit from one LAN port, you’re bottlenecked at the base unit. I’ve got one WiFi camera and a couple of IoT devices on the network and it’s just stuttering.
Should be noted that almost every option you can change, from Powerline type, to support for fast handoff, has been toggled and tested and made little to no difference.
I’m not going to bash this product at the moment, but in my little test house this is 5 Mesh AP units located all over my house working behind the scenes using Powerline technology, retailing for … not exactly sure, looks like over $300 at least what I have here, being whipped by a $99 router sitting behind a large wooden piece of furniture. I’ve had over the air WiFi repeaters that tended to work better.
We’ll see tomorrow… could be a really bad base unit and… yeah, there’s still the issue of no wall penetrating power that I can tell.