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This review is from: TP-LINK TL-WA850RE 300Mbps Universal Wi-Fi Range Extender. Wi-Fi Booster
Pros: The first thing I'm going to say is THANK YOU TP-LINK for including an ethernet cable! You don't know how many inexpensive networking products I open that don't come with a network cable. They are pennies to include, and it frustrates me when they aren't included and I need one.
Ok, now for the product itself. It works, I was able to plug it into an outlet in my garage, configure it with my laptop and then walk out into my driveway and get a single and browse the internet. My driveway previous had either an extremely weak or non-existent signal before, depending on conditions. Now, my driveway is covered with a nice reliable signal. This sounds like kind of an odd scenario, but it is actually a solution I use. The driveways in my neighborhood turn into hangouts on the weekends. Everyone drags their grills and chairs out and we all just kind of move from driveway to driveway around the neighborhood chatting and having fun.
Setup was super easy though the LAN port, and I also was able to configure it through wireless when I had to change some settings.
Lets get down to some numbers on throughput. When standing in my driveway, when I was able to connect to my access point in the house, my speed was only 3Mbps download, and it was extremely spotty. At one point I though the speed test had frozen, but it was just sitting there waiting. With the repeater in my garage, standing in the same spot in my driveway I get 23Mbps. That is a very big and noticeable improvement. When I'm in my house though, connected directly to my access point I get 47Mbps. So the speed through the repeater is about half of the full speed, but it is still way better than nothing.
Finally, the LAN port on this is such a nice addition. I have a media center PC in my garage that I use to play movies and such. It was previous connected with a USB Wireless G adapter. I was able to plug the PC into this extender and use the extender as a wireless adapter. It worked wonderfully. And I actually got 64Mbps download speed doing this while the previous Wireless G adapter was only getting 13Mbps. I can now actually watch HD content!
Cons: No external antennas. it seems like it performs Ok without them, but I'd like to see them and I think it would perform a little better with them.
The one thing during setup that I wish was different was I wish it prompted me to change the login password. At the end of the configuration it gives you a setup summary, and it lists the username and password, but never has you change them from the defaults. I had to go back into the configuration and change them after the initial setup wizard was complete.
The biggest con is that this doesn't support the 5GHz band, it is only 2.4GHz. I know adding dual band support costs more, but I really think extenders can benefit from simultaneous dual-band support. The main benefit being that you can connect to you main access point on the 5GHz band, then use the 2.4GHz band as the extension. This would eliminate the half duplex issue that causes the speed to be effectively halved. However, on a sub-$30 device, I can't really expect dual-band support like this.
I took one egg off of my TL-WA854RE review because that adapter didn't have a LAN port. This one does, so it gets full 5 eggs. This adapter, IMO, makes the TL-WA854RE a redundant product. Even if it is a few bucks cheaper, I wouldn't buy a WA854RE, I'd buy the WA850RE with the LAN port.
Other Thoughts: For the inexpensive repeater that this is, it does its job. If you need to extend WiFi to an area that doesn't have it, this will do that. If you just need a reliable connection, and not necessarily the fastest, this will do just fine. I would even say it would work with 2-3 phones/tablets/computers streaming data at the same time. I wouldn't go much more than that though. However, it will support more than that if just browsing and checking email is the goal.READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: This is a really neat product. And for what it does, it is pretty cheap too. Most home automation products like this are over $100 just to start out, this kit gets you started for under $50. And most of the add on devices, like plugs and light switches, are priced pretty reasonably as well.
You can group devices together using the app. So you can control an entire room with just one button press. You can turn the whole room off, or on with one press, and control the dimming off all the lights with one dimmer.
You can set up rules, which are basically just timers. You can choose to turn devices on at a certain time, or at sunrise/sunset. You can also choose to turn the same devices off at a certain time or at sunrise/sunset. So, for example, I set my living room lights to automatically turn on at sunset, and automatically turn off at 10:30PM.
The sleep timer function is very nice. You can set sevices to slowly dim and eventually turn off over a period of time. You can pick 1 minutes, 10 minutes, or 30 minutes as well a setting a custom time.
The LED bulbs use next to no electricity and are very bright at full power. They say they are 60w replacements, but they light up the room like a 75w bulb.
Cons: My biggest gripe with this is setting it up. It seems like it should be easy, but it was actually rather troublesome. It all went smoothly until I ran the App for the first time. I'm using the Android App by the way. When It came up I expected it to walk me through finishing the setup, but it didn't. Instead it told me I need to change some settings in my phone first. One setting was already set the way it wanted, but I changed the other one. I re-launched the app it still complained about needing to change the one setting that was already set the way it needed to be. Whenever I launched the app it would tell me to disable the WiFi option to "Avoid bad WiFi Connections". But that option was already turned off on my phone. So I enabled the option and turned it off. Finally the app stopped asking me to disable the setting. However, the app would still not continue to the setup process. It would just take me to the screen that says "What device are you setting up" and when I picked the WeMo Lightbulbs, it just gave me instructions for plugging everything in and actually says at the end of those instructions "then run the WeMo" app...but I was already in the WeMo app. I'd close the app and re-open it, and it would just take me back to the "What device are you setting up" screen. After a bunch of fiddling, disconnecting from the Belkin Wifi network, connecting to my Wifi network, relaunching the app, over and over again about 5-6 times, the app finally triggered the device setup. Once it was triggered, the process was easy and setup was complete in a couple of minutes. But the overall process took me about half an hour because the app would not begin the setup process. I was about to give up and just box everything back up, but it finally worked.
Once everything was set up, there were are few other issues with the App. First is that it comes up with a dialog about grouping devices together with a "click here to learn how". When I click it took me to a Belkin page with no instruction on how to group devices. So I was on my own to figure out how to group devices...
Another issue with the app is that once you group devices together you can no longer control them individually. So if I want to turn on just one light in a room, or turn just one off because it causes a glare on my TV, I can't. Very annoying.
My final issue isn't with the app, but with the pricing of extra bulbs. The cheapest price I could find is $25 a bulb. The kit is $50 and comes with 2 bulbs and a control hub. The extra bulbs should be cheaper than the bulbs with a control hub. I'd expect the bulbs to be $20 a piece at most.
Other Thoughts: I'd really like to see higher wattage bulbs. A 100w replacement would be great. Something that puts out double the lumens that these do. I like bright light, and some areas of my home, such as my garage, are large areas but only have a couple light fixtures. So I need super bright bulbs. A 1600 lumens bulb would be great.
The app is a little slow at times, and there is no feedback when you press most things, such as the "Save/Cancel" buttons at the bottom of the screen when editing devices and rules. So when I click save the app just sits there for a second or two, and I wonder if it acknowledge that I clicked save. The slowness is fine, I understand that it has to communicate with the devices and that takes time, but highlighting the button so I know the app accepted my button press would be great.
Pros: Very easy setup. WPS worked without a hitch, and the manual setup was extremely easy as well. Both methods are very well covered in the instructions. The only issue I saw with the instructions was that for the manual setup method it says it will use the TP-LINKXXXXX SSID. This isn't correct. By default is copies your main router/AP. If you select custom it will default to use your main router/AP SSID and adds _EXT to the end of the SSID name. This is what I used.
Just like with anything wireless, the speed you get will depend on the connection the extender has to your router and the connection you have to the extender. My main router is in my basement, I put the extender on the first floor of my house, and connected to the extender with my laptop on the second floor. Normally I barely get a signal from my main router on the 2nd floor, but I got an excellent signal from the extender.
Speed wise I was getting 26Mbps download and 10Mbps upload over the internet. For reference a wired connection gets 125Mbps download and 35Mbps upload. If I connect to my main router with my laptop on the 1st floor right next to the Extender I get 36Mbps download and 12Mbps upload. So going through the extender is causing a speed reduction compared to directly connecting to my router in the same location the extender is set up at.
However, I woudn't consider the speeds I'm getting through the extender bad. In fact they are still faster than a lot of standard internet connection in my area. In fact AT&T in my area only offers up to 24Mbps download speed anyway. It is only because I have a rather expensive Comcast connection that I get the very fast speeds that I do. I think this would be fine for multiple devices, even if a couple are streaming video.
I like the look of this Range Extender. The white looks nice and stylish and the leds are great for quickly checking the status of the device and the signal it is receiving from your main router/AP.
Cons: I think the biggest con for me is that this extender doesn't support the 5GHz band. The 2.4GHz band is just completely saturated in my area. There is not a single channel that is empty. In fact there is no channel with less than 2 SSIDs already on it. And this just adds another SSID to the mix. But in this price range I can't really complain about it not being dual-band. Dual-band radios are expensive, and would likely increase the price of this extender quite a bit.
The other thing I'd like to see would be an ethernet plug. Other extenders within $10 of this extender have an ethernet plug that not only allows you to plug in to configure the device but also allows the extender to work as a wireless bridge. So any device you plug into the ethernet port will connect to your network. You can even plug an ethernet switch into the port and connect multiple wired devices to your network wirelessly through the adapter. I think this is something that can be included in this price point.
Other Thoughts: This is definitely a viable option to extend your wifi network to areas that have a weak signal, or don't have a signal at all. You just have to place the extender in an area that does have a decent signal and hope the extenders signal is strong enough to cover the area you want.
This extender will work just fine for doing things on the internet. I was able to stream movies and videos without issue when connected through this extender. Downloads were slower than being directly connected to my router, but normal browsing and video watching did not seem any slower. And I was able to connect in areas I'm not able to connect directly to my router at all, so in that respect this device does exactly what it says.
The only other thing, and this is an issue with all extenders which is why I didn't put it in the con section, is that connecting through the extender does add latency. My pings went up between 10-15ms. Obviously if this is your only option, go with it, but running something like a powerline adapter would probably give a better gaming experience.
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