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TP-LINK TL-WR842ND N300 Multi-function Wireless Router, 2.4GHz,...
on December 8, 2014
I have a fairly extensive network that covers a very large area so I am always looking for a niche router that may fill in an area that I have limited coverage in. So, when this router became available, I thought I would give it a try. Here is what I found:
1. The router is a 2.4 GHZ band only router which I new going in. This is actually good if you are looking for distance coverage as the 2.4 Ghz Band goes much further and penetrates more walls than the 5Ghz band does. The down side is that the speed is not as high, but that is not an issue if you have a limited number of devices.
2. The router was fairly simple to setup. One of the first tests I run is to see if the router will configure and connect itself to a network without any intervention and without using a DVD or CD. Many folks have laptops without DVD or CD ROM drives now and if you have a tablet or phone, forget about a drive for a disk. This router configured easily as long as you use the wireless password that is pre-assigned and written on the bottom of the router. Once you are connected, you can then follow the directions to log into the router. No cable connection is necessary.
3. The router menu is fairly straight forward, but not necessarily the best one that I have seen. The one failing that I find is that the Guest Network and the main network both have the same Security password!! THAT IS A BIG mistake!!! This router is pushed as a way for a business to be able to offer Internet connectivity to clients. Why would you use the same password for them and for yourself. All they have to do is connect to your network and use the same password and then they have free access to your computers and data!!! The same is true of a Guest Network in a home. While I am happy to see that they have put in passwords, I feel they have defeated any security by having the same password for Guest and regular network.
4. The USB port will support either a printer or a USB drive, but know that the drive size is limited to 2 TB or 8 partitions.
5. Tech support is not bad. I asked a question about the size of supported drives for the USB port and they answered my question via e-mail in 24 hours.
6. The main issue that I have with this unit that makes it unusable is the fact that the connectivity is not reliable. While the connection does not always drop out, the connection data rate varies all over the map. With the router sitting 3 feet from my iPad or from my laptop, the connection data rate would vary from 150Kbs to 21Mbs during a file transfer. Connecting to another router on the same 2.4Ghz band but with a different radio channel produced a steady 30Mbs data transfer. The 30Mbs was a limit that was imposed for data testing presuming that the average ISP connection would be in that neighborhood.
If you moved farther away from the router, the data rate became very slow with highs reaching only 3Mbs while connecting to another router that is co-located with the TP-Link would connect again at a full 30Mbs. By farther away, I am talking a line distance of 45 feet passing through one floor.
7. With respect to design, I find the design to be pleasant and easy to work with. The LEDs are not overly bright and are placed in such a way as to not be distracting.
8. This router will not support many devices at the same time, but should support 4 to 5 devices at the same time without much trouble.
9. The QoS feature is not really effective since it is IP based. So, if you have a laptop that sometimes streams movies and sometimes does backups, you are either going to have a high priority all of the time or a low priority all of the time. Neither of which accomplishes what you are after. QoS needs to be based upon protocol to be effective.
All in all, while this router has possibilities, I do not think at the current time that it is worth even the low price that is being charged for it.