TP-Link Unveils New HomeShield, by Norton, with Better Pro Version

TP-Link today announced a new version of its HomeShield add-on, an “upgrade” that’s now powered by Norton, a known online protection company.

The networking vendor said the new version would be available in its Wi-Fi 7 Deco mesh system. Going forward, Norton likely will be the security provider for all TP-Link’s consumer-grade Wi-Fi broadcasters (routers and access points). But that remains to be seen.

In the grand scheme, this is just a change of guard. The idea remains the same.

TP-Link Deco XE200 vs Archer AXE300
Here are TP-Link’s two latest Wi-Fi hardware, the Deco XE200 mesh router, and the Archer AXE300 Wi-Fi 6E router. Both come with the HomeShield suite of online protection, QoS, and Parental Control.

TP-Link HomeShield: A nice way to, well, nickel-and-dime users

HomeShield is not new, both within TP-Link and the industry.

A few years ago, it used to be named “HomeCare,” which was completely free — as far as I remember, it started with the Deco X60. And then there was a HomeCare Pro version that was also free initially in specific hardware releases. Then requires a subscription in others.

It was a back-and-forth kind of thing for a while, and it wasn’t confusing.

After that, TP-Link changed the name to HomeShield as the free (basic) tier and added the HomeShield Pro, which is always a subscription.

And that’s been the case for the past few years. The table below shows the current state of HomeShield vs HomeShield Pro

HomeShield free vs HomeShield Pro

  Basic Pro
IoT Device Identification Yes Yes
IoT Device Security No Yes
Network Security Scan Yes Yes
Public WiFi Scan Yes Yes
Malicious Content Filtering No Yes
DDoS Protection No Yes
Port Intrusion Prevention No Yes
QoS (Device Priority) Yes Yes
User Profiles 16 family members 16 family members
Time Limits No Yes
Bedtime Set one fixed time Set different time schedules for different weekdays
Offtime No Yes
Time Rewards No Yes
Block Websites Yes Yes
Professional Content Filter Yes Yes
Traffic Statistics No Yes
Pause the Internet Yes Yes
New Access Devices Statistics Yes Yes
Device Type Statistics No Yes
Safety Statistics No Yes
Online Time Analysis No Yes
Visited URLs Analysis No Yes
Overview of Online Information No Yes
Insight 1 days 30 days
Weekly/Monthly Reports Yes Yes
URLs Interception Yes Yes
Security Reminder and Diary No Yes
Subscription Expiration Notice No Yes
Security Events No Yes
Subscription Free $5.99/month. Or
$54.99/year
HomeShield is part of most TP-Link routers and the Deco mesh systems released in the past couple of years. Each device generally includes one month of HomeShield Pro free trial.

Since early 2021, HomeShield has been powered by Avira, an antivirus company that’s a competitor of Bitdefender, which powers a similar add-on called Netgear Armor in Netgear’s hardware.

So the practice is not new. Basically, the networking vendor outsources the router-level online protection to a known online protection company. In return, the security party gets a cut of the premium service or the online data of the users (or both).

In the end, it’s the consumers who pay. So if they feel happy with the service, everyone is happy.

And that brings us to what the new Upgraded HomeShield has in store for you.

TP-Link Archer AXE300 HomeShield Pro
If you use a TP-Link router released in the past three years or so, you must have been nagged about HomeShield Pro at least once.

Upgraded HomeShield: More premium features and apps

The upgraded HomeShield feature, initially available in TP-Link’s Deco family, remains largely the same, with some added features for the premium tier.

Specifically, per TP-Link, HomeSheidl Pro now has Ad Blocker, VPN clients, App Blocker, SafeSearch, YouTube Restrictions, and even more in the future.

TP-Link says the most significant updates are two new separate mobile apps: The KidShield for parental controls and another for device security. In other words, the upgrade version will make TP-Link’s Tether app, which has been one of the requirements to use HomeShield, less bloated. And that’s always a good thing.

Better application-based QoS

On top of that, the new HomeShield comes with a new customizable Quality of Service (QoS) that allows users to assign bandwidth to the devices they use most.

The way it has been, QoS in TP-Link hardware can only prioritize by the device. That’s the case even with the company’s “top-notch” gaming routers, such as the Archer AX11000 or Archer GX90.

The new version, however, adds the ability to prioritize based on applications, meaning no matter what device you use, the application needing the prioritization will get it.

While the application-based QoS is not new, it’s been available in other vendors’ hardware for a long time; it’s a welcome change in TP-Link hardware.

The takeaway and availability

Charging the consumers extra to use the hardware to its full potential always rubs me the wrong way.

But in TP-Link’s case, the upgraded HomeShield’s changes are all promising. So if you’ve already subscribed or are about to do so, it sure is a push in the right direction.

Per TP-Link, the new Upgraded HomeShield, powered by Norton, is still under development and will be available with TP-Link’s Wi-Fi 7 Deco system, which the company announced back in November.

When it becomes available, the new HomeSheild Pro will cost the same. Check back sometime later in the year to see how it, and the latest hardware, will pan out. Like usual, I’ll keep my finger crossed.