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This review is from: TP-Link RE590T AC1900 Touch Screen Wi-Fi Range Extender
Pros: Effectively boosts wifi signal to difficult spots, touch screen provides a lot of functionality, excellent Android management app, extremely easy set up via multiple methods, excellent fit and finish, helpful documentation
Cons: Somewhat expensive, unattractive industrial design, touch screen can be fiddly, large for a range extender, provides more bandwidth than many buyers can use or take advantage of
Other Thoughts: Tp-Link is my favorite provider of home networking gear. The performance of their products always compares favorably to those from better known manufacturers and usually at a lower price. I have used their Archer C7 router for the past couple of years, always returning to it after I've tried equipment that looks better on paper but doesn't perform any better in real life. Over time, their packaging, documentation, design and ease of set up have significantly improved. In fact the RE590 was probably the fastest and easiest network device I've ever set up.
My New York City apartment is small but the walls are very thick and no router has been able to provide a usable signal to some rooms without help. I have used Tp-Link's TL-WA850RE range extender in my kitchen to great effect, although it is the company's least expensive range extender at $20. However that unit is limited to the Wireless N 2.4 GHz band at a maximum of 300 mbps. This is adequate for older devices that don't support the 5 GHz band or Wireless AC. It is also adequate for most internet connections.
However more recent phones and tablets do support dual bands and Wireless AC and the theoretical difference in performance is dramatic, particularly when streaming media or transferring files within the home. Unfortunately the benefits of AC vary significantly from environment to environment; the 5GHz signal is just not very robust when it has to go through walls, etc. In my apartment the inexpensive Tp-Link range extender provides an adequate 2.4GHz signal throughout but there are still rooms where the 5GHz signal is unusably weak. I don't fault the Archer C7 router for this but the layout of my home.
If the TL-WA850RE is the least expensive Tp-Link range extender, the RE590T AC1900 is their most expensive and fully featured. Although it includes useful bells and whistles like external antennas, a large well thought out touch screen, and multiple ethernet ports for connecting to media devices, what you are paying for is a theoretical throughput of 1.9Gbps vs the 850RE's top speed of only 300mbps. And such power does not come cheap at $129, although the RE590 is priced competitively with 1900 AC range extenders from other manufacturers. Whether or not you can use or need this much bandwidth depends on how many devices you have that support 5GHz AC, how many of them will be in use at the same time, and how much of your networking is done locally as opposed to over the internet.
The real advantages of the RE590 will be appreciated if you need to stream high definition media over significant distances to otherwise dead spots in the home. For a family that plays demanding video games in more than one room the range extender might also be a good investment. If your bandwidth needs are more modest and/or you are only using your devices for non-streaming internet use, the Tp-Link makes range extenders at almost every price point that will perform up to and beyond their specifications.
My personal needs are simpler and more straightforward; I merely wanted to get 5GHz reception in rooms that the C7 couldn't reach on its own. The RE590 has solved that problem admirably.
Pros: Easy set up, full featured phone/tablet app, clean industrial design, flexible configuration
Cons: somewhat expensive to install throughout the house
Other Thoughts: TP-Link products have always provided great value and they just keep getting better. This is the most affordable "smart plug" you can buy that is controllable by an app on your phone or tablet. It practically configures itself and once you have an account on TP-Link's cloud you can control the device from wherever you have an internet connection. Other special features include turning lights on and off at random times to simulate activity in the home and a handy countdown timer to prevent your forgetting to turn off an appliance. Very useful, attractively designed and well made. Recommended.READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: One of the fastest dual band AC routers by specs, USB 3.0 and eSATA ports, printer server capable
Cons: Performance doesn't exceed that of router half its price
Other Thoughts: This is Linksys' current flagship router and since it is "open source ready" it's possible that a third party firmware such as DD-WRT might improve the mediocre performance I experienced testing the unit with the latest stock firmware (I did not test it with any 3rd party firmware). As it is, this is another disappointing product from Linksys, particularly given the manufacturer's hype and the high price.
I compared the 1900 which retails for $229 with the TP-Link Archer C7, retailing at $99. While the C7 is widely considered to be one of the best values available, the 1900 on paper exceeds it in almost every specification. Unfortunately when compared head to head in my environment the 1900 performed either the same or slightly worse than the much less expensive router.
I used an LG G3 android smartphone to compare signal strength and internet download throughput in every room of my smallish New York City apartment. The G3 includes 5GHz wifi ac and supports all of the same bands as the 1900. Testing software was Wifi Analyzer, which measures signal strength, and Ookla's Speedtest app, which replicates on a phone their gold standard browser-based site.
Although my space is small, because of the layout and because the walls are old and thick, I get very poor performance in two rooms, even though they are only about 20 feet from the router. Given that 5GHz signals are notoriously weak, the C7 is only usable on the wireless N band in those rooms. Unfortunately the 1900 was no better. Download throughput for both channels was about the same as the C7, although oddly signal strength measured a little bit better. The wired connection to my desktop reached the 350mbps maximum from my Time Warner Cable connection, as did the C7.
Is the 1900 a bad router? To the extent that I am reasonably happy with the C7 given the problems with my space, and given that the 1900 performed about the same, its performance is certainly adequate. But given its top position in the Linksys line-up and the expectations the company raises in its promotional literature, I would expect more for the price. Of course, given the vagaries of any wifi environment, your mileage may vary and the 1900 might turn out to be the best router for your purposes ever.