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TRENDnet Wireless AC Easy-Upgrader TEW-820AP
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

4 out of 5 eggs Nice, tiny sized, 5GHz AP/client 07/25/2015

This review is from: TRENDnet Wireless AC Easy-Upgrader TEW-820AP

Pros: Relatively inexpensive way to get 5GHz AC added to an existing wireless network which is the product’s intent.

This is a Realtek RTL8881AN based wireless access point that provides a single 5GHz stream via a single internal antenna and supports A, AN and AC protocols. There is a single 10/100 LAN port. There is a power LED/WPS button. It is quite small and low power and easy to carry around. I was able to power it off my laptop’s usb port in a hotel without having to use the provided adapter (which takes up two slots on a power strip). The device can also function as a wireless bridge/client to connect a wired device like a gaming console to an existing wireless network.

The advantages of the 5 GHz band is that it is less crowded and the AC protocol allows up to 433 Mbps speed per stream. It is more power-efficient for your portable device (newer phones/tablets) to use this protocol per unit of data. If you are using the older AN mode you can get up to 150 Mbps per stream. These data rates include protocol overhead. In real life, the real data throughput of wireless after accounting for the various inefficiencies is usually about a third of the stated maximum sync speed (unlike wired ethernet where you get more than 90 percent of the PHY layer rating). This is why the 100 Mbps LAN port is not a real liability here, though on the surface it would seem to make no sense to have a 100 Mbps LAN port on a wireless device that can communicate at up to 433 Mbps. The disadvantages of 5 GHz are usually a shorter range and less penetration through obstacles.

For comparison, residential cable internet in most areas can deliver about 50 Mbps. Though in some select areas this is increasing toward the 200-300 range.

Cons: Based on the current price, for about 15 bucks more you can get a full dual band router - two stream AC866 (433+433 on 5GHz) and two stream N300 (150 + 150 on 2.4 GHz). The decision on what to buy depends on your intended use and price.

Other Thoughts: I had no trouble setting it up. Range is good for a room or two and a drywall wall or two. Worked well in a hotel suite as a travel router for me so I could get 5 GHz when the hotel wireless was 2.4 GHz. I found the tiny size to be an advantage in that situation. Worked well as a cost-effective x-box wireless bridge also - at about 25 feet from my access point. To get to the setup wizard, I just connected it to my home network and typed “tew-820ap” into a browser window on a wired-in computer. Default’s are printed on the device front and back stickers. SetupWizard makes you pick a new router access password which is nice, then asks whether you want to run as an access point or client.. After you run SetupWizard once and pick access point, typing “tew-820ap” will get you the standard web dashboard for the device. MAC filters, WPS, and multiple SSID’s are supported.

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TP-LINK TL-WA850RE 300Mbps Universal Wi-Fi Range Extender. Wi-Fi Booster
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

4 out of 5 eggs Cost Efficient Repeater/Wireless Bridge 07/02/2015

This review is from: TP-LINK TL-WA850RE 300Mbps Universal Wi-Fi Range Extender. Wi-Fi Booster

Pros: This is a good and inexpensive wifi repeater which can also function as a wireless adapter at a fraction of the price of dedicated console wifi adapters.

This model is one step up from the TL-WA854RE and differs from it primarily in that it has an ethernet jack and can function as a wireless bridge. TP-Link's top of the line model is the RE200 dual band with AC protocol.

Getting reliable wifi throughout a space is not easy, particularly with 5GHz having such short range and the 2.4 GHz band being so crowded. Some homes and offices are not easy to wire up.

There are three ways of extending your wireless network into an area where you have marginal coverage. 1) Run an ethernet cable from your router to a new wireless access point (the best). 2) Hook a powerline adapter to a new wireless access point (less good). (TP-Link has a very cool combination powerline adapter/access point combination - see the TL-WPA4220Kit), 3) Run a wireless repeater (the worst). For the technical aspects, gotchas, and limitations, see other thoughts.

As wireless repeaters go, this one is inexpensive, easy to set up (WPS button), small, plugs directly into an outlet, comes from a good company, looks good, and works pretty well as long as you know the limitations and gotchas. As long as it is close-enough to your main wireless access point to get a good 2.4 GHz signal, it will repeat the 2.4 GHz signal for you. I got up to about 70 feet line-of-sight range extension. It has internal antennas, seems to run an Atheros CPU, and I got about 20/25 Mbps down/up speed just like the TL-WA854RE model. This compares favorably to other 2.4 GHz repeaters I’ve tried (Netgear, Linksys, Edmax).

Cons: This device does not have any cons specific to it except that wireless repeaters are the last-choice way of extending a wireless network. It compares favorably with other 2.4GHz repeaters but has a shorter range than those with external antennas. Positioning is limited to power-outlet location since it plugs directly into a power outlet.

Other Thoughts: There are some gotchas with all wireless repeaters. First, they slow down the bandwidth by at least 50% since they are repeating/re-broadcasting the signal. Second, the repeater has to be placed where it has a good connection to the parent wireless access point. Mapping of your wireless strength and channel availability in a potential placement location can be done with many cell-phone apps these days, though. This unit has a 5-level signal strength connection indicator to help place it correctly. Third, this unit operates on the more-common 2.4 GHz band which is more crowded than the newer AC protocol on 5 GHz.

Before you go with a repeater, first try moving your root access point or getting a more powerful access point or bigger antennas.

(In the past, I've used powerline adapters to hook up an access point I couldn't wire in. I thought it would be cool if someone made a combination powerline/access point unit and it turns out TPLink has just such an item at less than twice the price of this repeater.)

If you need to cover a 20-30 foot dead spot for “consumer internet” type speeds this Range Extender might do it for you quite inexpensively. If you need to run many devices and do big file streaming within your local network, you’re gonna have to run wire.

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OCZ Vector 180 VTR180-25SAT3-480G 2.5
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: This is a member of a new SSD family from OCZ. OCZ's assets were acquired by Toshiba and the company was resurrected as “OCZ Storage Solutions - A Toshiba Group Company”.

It is a good deal because the new company must overcompensate in terms of quality, customer service, and price to get its customer base back and it is now backed by a behemoth corporation with the assets to do it right. See “Other Thoughts” on the history of all this.

This Vector 180 is a 480GB drive in a family that comes in 120/240/480/and 960GB capacities in a 2.5” 7mm SATA 6Gb/s package. The performance is excellent on benchmarks and is going to be primarily limited by the SATA interface. The controller is their fastest OCZ Barefoot 3 M00 at 397MHz. The 960GB capacity is new for OCZ.

It feels quite heavy/solid due to a premium alloy housing and the drive seems to exude quality. It comes with a license for Acronis True Image software. There is an excellent SSD management tool called SSD Guru that covers firmware updates, heath monitoring, SSD tuning.

Taking it apart, there is a thermal pad between the controller and the metal case, Toshiba A19nm Toggle MLC NAND, and Micron 1 GB DDR3 1333 MHz DRAM.

On the board there is a big orange capacitor which is part of this product’s defining new feature. “Power Failure Managment Plus”. In case of a power anomaly, data-at-rest is protected and risk of bricking is decreased by protecting the mapping table.

5 year “ShieldPlus” warranty is supposed to make warranty claims effortless and inspire confidence in the product. All that is needed is to provide the SSD serial number and advanced product replacement with prepaid return shipping is supposed to happen.

Cons: Has AES 256-bit encryption but does not support TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE-1667.
Barefoot 3 lacks support for some slumber power states (but it has excellent active power consumption) so it's not the best choice for low-power mobile use where reads and writes are infrequent and minimal battery power is the primary objective.

Other Thoughts: OCZ was a powerhouse back when SSD’s were a relatively new thing - pushing the envelope and winning in terms of all the benchmarks, including price. Back then, relatively small companies could put a controller and some NAND together and sell SSD’s. OCZ had a close relationship with SandForce controllers and OCZ was the major producer of SSD’s based on those controllers. The companies making these proprietary controllers considered their firmware to super-secret. OCZ got burned when SandForce firmware issues led to a number of bricked drives. It seemed to take forever for SandForce to fix those problems and all sorts of rumors floated around the internet. A lot of companies using SandForce controllers got hurt but OCZ being a major SandForce user, combined with a simultaneous NAND shortage got burned the worse. It let to a bad customer service/quality reputation. OCZ responded by acquiring their own controller company (Indilinx) but it was too late. The Toshiba acquisition finalized in the beginning of 2014. Toshiba makes its own NAND. OCZ now makes its own controllers. And we can all likely benefit from the overcompensation in terms of quality and support that will be required to rebuild the brand. This new family is a good example of the cool things that are likely to come.

I benchmarked this drive. The official stats published for it are accurate and understated a bit and some other reviewers here go over them in great detail so I won't bore you with them. It's a drive worth buying if you like fast, long warranty, & good price.

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Gregory P.'s Profile

Display Name: Gregory P.

Date Joined: 11/07/09

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  • First Review: 12/18/09
  • Last Review: 07/25/15
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