The Devolo dLan 1200+ Wifi ac powerline adaptor extends your LAN and wifi networks throughout your home. In this dLan 1200+ Wifi ac review, we’ll see if the company’s claims of “cures weak wifi” are borne out of reality …or not.
Here’s the theory:
A powerline model like the dLan 1200+ Wifi from Devolo comes fitted with the latest, greatest “ac” speed rating. Specifically, that’s 1200 Mbps wifi, plus gigabit ethernet.
As a result, it should give you better, faster access, wherever you are in your home. Does it live up to its specs?
Disclosure: this review is based on a free sample, which includes the dLan 1200+ Starter Kit, plus a separate additional adaptor. Some links on this page are affiliate links: no additional cost to you, but I may receive a small commission to help keep this blog up and running.
In short, the dLan 1200+ wifi ac powerline adaptor adds fast ethernet and wifi to any room in the house.
But let’s get this out of the way right now: initial setup isn’t as simple as Devolo would have you believe.
Read on to find out more.
Remember the good old days when you had to run wires round your house to connect, well, pretty much anything?
Once upon a time, the only way to extend your home network was to run ethernet cables from your router to your PC, and everything else.
Then came wifi. It freed up floor space, and reduced the need for complicated and potentially expensive DIY. But that convenience brought new hazards to our network security, speed and coverage.
The dLan 1200+ Wifi ac aims to do away with all that by extending both your wired and wireless networks. It does this through two simple plugs, without any of the wires one might expect.
Devolo make some big claims on the box, saying that it “cures weak wifi”. They also triumphantly proclaim “Finally: wifi anywhere!”.
In fact, with the dLan 1200+ wifi starter kit, you don’t even need a router:
The two adaptor plugs supplied broadcast their own signal. Technically, this means you can use their built-in wifi and encryption keys to set up a wifi network from scratch (you would still need a connection to the internet).
To Devolo’s credit, the dLan 1200+ manages to do all this with relatively few headaches. However, initial setup is not quite as seamless as I might have hoped. More on this later.
In my house, we get our internet access via a fibre broadband package. Since it works over the land line, our router is situated near the telephone socket, in one corner of the house.
This setup worked fairly well for our home network, until we extended the house a couple of years ago.
The extension immediately became one of our favourite rooms, and an impromptu games room for the kids. That’s when the kids started moaning about the poor wifi signal in there.
The room was far enough away from the router that I didn’t want to run wires around under the carpet.
I also didn’t want to break up our lovely tiled floor in the kitchen. And I certainly didn’t want to mess up our nice new walls!
What I needed was a quick simple fix, that wouldn’t break the bank.
I already had a TP-Link powerline starter kit in place (TP-Link are one of Devolo’s many competitors). It allowed me to get an Internet connection to a blu ray player that had no wifi and just one Ethernet port.
So, with that in place, I bought an additional powerline adaptor – an extension set for our, er, extension (please excuse the pun). An extension set is simply one more adaptor that connects to the existing starter kit.
I quickly plugged the new adaptor into a power socket in the extension, then pressed a button on each plug to “synch” them. And hey presto, wifi in our new room, plus an additional couple of Ethernet ports, for good measure.
However, this wasn’t quite the end of the story.
While we now had wifi in the room, I was still getting complaints about the signal being weak or slow.
Then I received the dLan 1200+ Wifi adaptors in the post. I had the opportunity to test out a newer powerline version, from a different company – and with a better spec, to boot.
Let’s be honest here:
Not everyone needs a powerline adaptor set.
Some people are perfectly happy with their wifi network. They can use their electronics all over the house, with no complaints from their families.
If that’s you, then you can stop reading, right now.
However, if your house is large, is a new build with lots of insulation, or an old build with thick concrete walls, then you may encounter:
“blank” spots with no signal at all.
slow or sluggish downloads and surfing, in rooms far from your router.
If you find yourself in any of those situations, then the dLan 1200+ Starter Kit could be just what you’re looking for.
The dLan 1200+ works in a similar way to any other powerline device:
The second adaptor is usually in a different room, and may even be on a different floor of the house (within distance limits described in the instructions).
Generally, the only special step you take is to press a button on each plug, to “sync” or encrypt the signal between them.
The dLan 1200+ wifi adds an additional wrinkle with the wifi part. I’ll talk more about this in the setup section below.
There are of course, other powerline adaptors on the market, including competitors which also utilise wifi.
With the dLan 1200+ model, Devolo is banking on one extra piece of technology to separate them from the crowd.
What that little “+” sign signifies in the 1200+ is their trade marked range+ technology.
Whereas other powerline kits transmit their signal over 2 wires, range+ utilises all three wires within your electric cables: live, neutral and earth.
Theoretically, this should give you a performance boost, when compared to the competition. Specifically, they are claiming 1200 Mbps wifi speed, and gigabit over ethernet LAN cables.
Devolo say that range+ results in a greater reach for the signal too, although my house is not big enough to test that claim.
I opened up the Starter Kit to find two powerline adaptors, a quick start guide and an Ethernet cable in the box.
One adaptor was slightly larger than the other and I assumed (incorrectly, it turns out) that this was the primary adaptor to be connected to the router.
Everything was well protected and in one piece, due to the usual “bomb proof” packaging you might expect.
My problems began when I started looking through the quick start guide.
Devolo has tried hard to make the guide easy to use, using simple diagrams, rather than words.
However, the first issue was immediately apparent:
The diagrams clearly show 2 pin European adaptors, instead of the 3 pin UK adaptors supplied in the box I received.
To make matters worse, the design of the 3 pin adaptors means that they are upside down, when compared to their European counterparts.
This meant that whenever the guide called for a button in the bottom right to be pressed, it was in fact in the top left.
It wasn’t too difficult to work out, but it introduced a barrier that just shouldn’t be there.
We’ve all become used to seamless consumer experiences with our technology, from the likes of Apple. Other companies like Devolo need to keep up with that trend, if they want to stand any chance in today’s crowded marketplace.
I believe Devolo are a German company, so the oversight is understandable. However, if they want to be truly international, they need to get details like this right, or they could lose customers needlessly.
Let’s take a look at the actual installation steps.
In theory, it should be a case of plugging in the two adaptors, then press a button on each to connect and encrypt the connection.
With the dLan 1200+, there is an additional button to press in order to clone your existing Wifi connection.
The booklet gives instructions for all this, as well as another couple of options.
However, it doesn’t actually explain why you would want to do each of the steps, or when you might want to use them.
For example, the guide starts by telling you to make a note of the wifi encryption keys that are labelled on each adaptor – and then promptly ignores them for the remaining pages.
I’m fairly technically minded, but I can only guess that they might be required if I had to run the setup manually. Other customers might not be so forgiving.
A look online revealed some helpful videos, which explained things a little better. But some of these displayed different models to the one I had and navigating between them on the website was unnecessarily clunky and unintuitive.
One of the most helpful videos was unintentionally hilarious, because it was obviously made with some kind of text-to-speech software, with plenty of unnatural pauses and tone changes mid sentence.
In the end, these were the actual steps I took to get them up and running:
This sounds more complicated than it was in practice. However, it still involved a lot more head scratching than it should have done.
When adding the third adaptor, the Home button kept flashing red, instead of turning white. This made me think it was broken!
I moved it into the lounge, right next to the other adaptor, but it stayed the same.
Finally, I pressed the Home buttons again anyway, then it worked and went white.
I then moved it back into the extension and waited for it to turn white again.
This obviously won’t affect most people, because they will begin with the starter kit only.
However, it’s inconsistent with the rest of the setup and I mention it here as a “good to know”, if you’re thinking of extending your existing network.
The installation will only take a few minutes, so now on to the most important part: how do the dLan 1200+ wifi adaptors perform in day to day use?
To give you some context, my router is situated in the corner of the lounge, which happens to be in one corner of my house.
The extension room is on the opposite side of the house as you look at it from the front. This means the back of the extension is at the opposite diagonal corner to where the router is.
In other words, it’s as far away from the router as you can possibly get, while still being inside the house.
I ran speed tests in 3 different places, before and after the switch:
the extension room, where people sit
in the same room, but in the furthest corner away from the router
Check out the image below for the test figures I got in these different places. The tests performed near my router haven’t changed much, as you might expect. However, the figures highlighted in red are those in the extension corner furthest from the router (caveat: I think the “before” upload speed was a bit of an anomaly).
While my tests weren’t the most scientific, I think the results speak for themselves. As you can see, there’s a clear and significant improvement, following installation of the dLan 1200+ adaptors.
What the speed tests don’t show, is that the wifi signal strength in the extension is up from 1-2 bars, to the full 3 bars, the majority of the time.
I now have fast wifi connections across every part of my house, with no discernible blank spots, or drop outs. I call that a result.
Most importantly, it now passes the wife and son test: My son says it is “definitely improved”!
On first glance, there’s not much to say about the ergonomics of powerline adaptors. You plug them in and they just work – the ultimate in set and forget technology.
However, I’ve come to know from experience that these devices need the occasional reset.
To do that, you simply unplug them for a few seconds, then plug them in again and wait for them to re-sync. So it’s important that they are easy to hold and plug in.
I found that the adaptors themselves did that well. However, the pass through socket was very stiff:
It was easy enough to plug another device into the adaptor. However, it was quite hard work to remove the device again, without also pulling the adaptor out of the wall. Hopefully, it will loosen up with time and use.
That said, at the time of publishing this review, the adaptors have been in operation for several weeks and there has been no need to reset them as yet: another positive.
Another angle on ergonomics that’s not so obvious is what you do with your other devices that run from powerline adaptors.
For example: you may now have wifi and internet available in your spare room, so you can use your iPad in there. This is great for mobility and convenience, but is not always great for your back and neck.
Overall, I would give a fairly clear recommendation for the dLan 1200+ Wifi ac adaptors:
While the initial setup was more finicky than expected, the speedy, reliable connection is very welcome.
Once you’re past all that, you’ll simply appreciate the “always on” nature of these adaptors.
Does it fulfill the claims on the box of “wifi anywhere”? Yes, pretty much.
Does it also “cure weak wifi”? For me, that’s a definite “yes” too.
If Devolo can take on board my criticisms of the documentation, then I would happily upgrade my recommendation to a “must buy”.
Pros: stable, fast ethernet and wifi across the whole house
Cons: initial setup feels over complicated
I liked: being thanked by my family
I didn’t like: quick start guide instructions
I'm Tim Bader, founder of ErgonomicToolbox.com and the Ergonomic Toolbox training course. I am a writer, author, blogger and church leader, and I help people to overcome RSI and live comfortably with technology. When I'm not writing, helping or training people, I live at home with my wife, two teenage kids and Playstation.
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