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TP-Link imported its Tapo brand of smart home products from Europe in 2022, and the Tapo P125M Mini Smart Wi-Fi Plug is one of company’s first Matter-certified products. Matter was announced in 2021, as you might know, and was officially ratified in November 2022 as a standard promising universal compatibility in the smart home space. If the Tapo P125M is an indicator, Matter is off to a very good start.
The Tapo P125M is a humble external smart plug that won’t surprise anyone seasoned with these types of devices. Let’s start with the hardware. The pint-sized plug—it measures 2.4 x 1.5 x 1.3 inches (HxWxD) features a single three-prong connector and a backlit power button on its left-hand side (the LED can be disabled in software). Two such plugs can operate in a conventional in-wall outlet. The plug offers support for 1800 watts and 15 amps; relatively standard specs for this category.
Connectivity is via 2.4GHz Wi-Fi only and you can set up the plug via either the Tapo app or with any Matter-compatible app. The P125M is not compatible with TP-Link’s Kasa app, and it doesn’t have a Thread radio on board. If you’re using the Tapo app, onboarding is quick and straightforward, connecting automatically via Bluetooth before bridging to your Wi-Fi network. If you’re using another Matter-compatible app, such as the Apple Home app for iOS, you need only scan the QR code included on the plug or on a sticker in the box, and the connection is automatic from there. I tried it both ways and had no trouble with either method.
Since this is a Matter-certified product, third-party support is broad, with Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, HomeKit, and IFTTT all within bounds. Again, everything worked smoothly no matter which platform I connected the device to. That’s definite feather in Matter’s operational cap and a hopeful sign of good things to come.
If you’re working with a third-party app, you’re beholden to the features therein for things like scheduling and automation. The features in Tapo’s own app are on par for this category. There’s capable scheduling for powering the plug on and off at specific times or according to sunrise and sunset, a countdown timer that toggles the plug on or off on demand, and an away mode that turns the plug on and off while you’re away on vacation.
Tapo’s app keeps tabs of usage time over the last day, the last 7 days, and the last 30 days, though there’s no breakdown of activity beyond that. (Note that I had to force-quit the app to get this usage data to update.) You’ll find an auto-off timer buried in the settings that will turn the plug off after a configured amount of time. This timer activates each time the plug is turned on, which would be helpful if you’re running something like a space heater through the plug. On the downside, the plug does not have any energy-monitoring features.
Once again, stability was solid. I had no trouble with any of these features, and the switch was invariably quick to respond to on-demand commands, whether I was nearby or away, or whether I was using the Tapo app or another app connected via Matter.
The Tapo P125M is priced at $19.95, which makes it more expensive than many of its non-Matter-certified competitors. That price, however, is not out of line compared to other Matter-certified smart plugs. The Meross MSS115, for instance, was selling for $39.99 in a 2-pack at this writing (its list price is $49.99 for a 2-pack). Matter-certified smart plugs that do have Thread radios will likely cost more than models without that feature. Thread, unlike Wi-Fi, was purpose built for operating networks of low-power IoT devices.
Matter compatibility is worth something, the question is how much is it worth to you? For people who are just beginning to build out their smart homes, it’s worth paying a little more for compatibility with the standard that’s destined to be the future. The value proposition is less clear for those who live in smart homes filled with pre-Matter devices—at least until the time comes to replace your smart home hub and you can’t find one that supports those older devices. Samsung, for example, no longer supports Z-Wave on the SmartThings hubs inside its appliances and in the SmartThings Station product it announced at CES in January.
Personally, I’m all for broad compatibility and future-proofing, but there’s a limit to what I’ll pay for it.
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