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Linksys RE4100W-4A Wireless N600 Pro Wi-Fi Dual Band Range Extender with Built-In Audio Speaker
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

4 out of 5 eggs Setup was a pain, but it works fine. 08/30/2015

This review is from: Linksys RE4100W-4A Wireless N600 Pro Wi-Fi Dual Band Range Extender with Built-In Audio Speaker

Pros: - Dual band is always a perk, if a buyer is willing to pay for it. (This isn’t 802.11ac but it still detected my 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. 2.4Ghz connected easy, no issues. 5Ghz, however, did not connect until I enabled WPS. I disabled WPS again and it remained connected.)

- Very interactive helpful hints. When the connection dropped during setup (switched to main network signal) a popup with detailed instructions instructed some pointers for Windows XP, 7, and 8. Documentation for this is scarce, but it is not really needed. When there are issues, the GUI is very helpful.

- DLNA/uPNP media streaming was an obscure perk although not a novelty. It is very simple to use and can be beneficial for a lightweight audio broadcast across an area. Also, I have some high impedance headphones the device had no problems driving.
For audio playback howto, see: http://www.linksys.com/us/support-article?articleNum=143720

- I could not get actual transfer speeds since I could not reach other devices in my subnet. :^[
(In theory, behind the 10/100 Ethernet you’ll max out at 12.5 megabytes per second (MB/s). It would be marginally higher for 300Mbps with a halved throughput.)

- Standard configuration options: QoS, site survey, WPS, Diagnostics (ping), logging, Client list, usage/packet statistics, etc.

- Can disable the Ethernet port lights in the settings, for those who don’t like light pollution in devices.

Cons: There was not any single solid con with this device; however, there were a few smaller annoyances.

- What is this required ToS/EULA? The agreement strictly prohibits reverse engineering the firmware. This is weird considering Linksys was the birthplace of DD-WRT...That is against the philosophy of a commercial off-the-shelf/personal electronic device, IMO. (So, naturally, I extracted the the firmware’s binary using binwalk and analyzed the strings. I couldn’t get a full directory to mount, unfortunately, but it isn’t encrypted. It appears to use a basic u-Boot setup with a 2.6 linux kernel.)

- A bottleneck for this theoretical 300Mbps dual band, the capitalized ‘F’ and ‘P’ in “Fast Ethernet Port” means 10/100 ethernet. I know gigabit on these small devices is a lot to ask, but this price point competing with 4-port router-bride devices demands a bit more. Again, this isn’t an outright con.

- The connection issues I had during setup were really finicky and took some troubleshooting to get working. I’m writing it off to be an issue with the 802.11ac tech. This isn’t really a con and more of an annoyance because everything worked in the end. I’m guessing it is just detecting both bands but isn’t able to use them since it isn’t AC.

- I could not reach my NAS or host router (192.168.0.x) from this device. I changed it to static IP and lost my connection, having to factory reset to start over. By that point I had lost my patience. Because of this I could not get actual file transfer speeds to post here, since I could not reach my other LAN devices...

- 30 day return/refund policy is rather limited compared to the norm with these devices.

Other Thoughts: In testing this, I mainly connected it and plugged the Ethernet into my Xbox360 to see how it would perform. There weren’t any lag issues and download speeds were quick. Browsing using my laptop was also adequate. I streamed audio from WMP in Windows 10 and it was seamless. (I actually enjoyed this feature more than I thought I would.) Since I couldn’t reach other devices on my subnet, I mainly used this as an internet device and nothing more.

Setup IP is 192.168.1.1 (or head to http://extender.linksys.com in a browser). For login info, the default admin/admin credentials worked. Once set up, the connection is transparent unless the user specifies a static IP, which would put it behind a NAT (In theory..mine gave me issues). However, the configuration can still be accessed by the extender.linksys.com URL even though there is no gateway configuration IP for the device itself.

A curious side note is this is a Linksys system but Belkin branding is all over the place. Initially, 5GHz connected okay while the 2.4GHz would fail afterward. After repeated “The extender is having trouble connecting to your wireless network,” errors I enabled WPS and it all connected okay.

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Netgear XAVB5421-100PAS AV500 1-Port Essentials Edition Powerline Kit with Pass-Thru Outlet,up to 500Mbps
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

3 out of 5 eggs Simple, but slow and not the best option. 08/25/2015

This review is from: Netgear XAVB5421-100PAS AV500 1-Port Essentials Edition Powerline Kit with Pass-Thru Outlet,up to 500Mbps

Pros: Overall, at $40 it is a decent deal for anyone needing to fill this specific networking niche, networking through powerlines at slow 100 Mbit speeds. Do not expect to seamlessly stream bluray backups from a media server or transfer files larger than a few hundred megabytes in any reasonably short time. Even browsing Newegg is noticeably laggy. I would not personally use this for online gaming or anything requiring low-latency. By design, the 500 Mb/s link is bottlenecked with 100 Mbps Ethernet.

If these conditions are acceptable then this device works if the price is right. (Alternative solutions mentioned in OTs.)

Setup: Very simple and plug-and-play as many similar products are. The instructions were brief, as expected with how painless setup was. Plug/connect the devices, sync, and everything should work. I did not even have to press sync since my router leased an IP address as soon as both adapters were connected.
- Additionally, I plugged a Trendnet TPL-410APK (Newegg #N82E16833156478) receiver and it connected instantly and as flawlessly to the Netgear.
- Transparent client bridging. The assigned DHCP lease is direct from the router. No NAT chipping the throughput further. Naturally, there is no configuration IP or options to change settings on the adapters. Everything is seamless.
- The two 6.5 foot Ethernet cables were an added bonus in this modern age of 3-foot patch cables companies tend to include.

Speed: In testing, I began copying a 3 GB disk image (.iso) file to a gigabit-connected Seagate NAS and through the SMB (Samba, Windows share) protocol.
- At ~6 MB/s (48 Mb/s) transfer speeds, the rate is definitely a con. Unfortunately this is by design. (Cons #1.)
- The Trendnet adapter gained 400 KB/s of Netgear, transferring consistently at around ~6.4 MB/s via its megabit Ethernet. (The full Trendnet setup was exponentially faster since it interfaced the 500 Mb/s line with a N300 wireless AP instead of the 10/100 LAN port.)

Features:
- The “Pick-a-Plug” LED color tells of the connection speed if there are any problems. However mine shone green despite low speeds. (See Cons #2.)
- Encryption is very important and easily enabled with this setup. Also, speed did not noticeably drop with enabling encryption in my testing, though speed was so low it would be negligible anyhow.
Note: I didn’t attempt to establish an encryption handshake between the Trendnet and Netgear adapters, however.
- Power saving mode! This is one feature in wifi repeaters I've always inexpressively wished for and I am very happy to see it in this powerline adapter.
- In theory, pass-through is important to preserve both outlets for use. Unfortunately, Con #3 outlines the bulky build obstructing the other outlets regardless. As implemented, pass-through is useless.
- Extra noise filtering, I'll give benefit of the doubt this exists because I have no practical way of measuring it without using an oscilloscope, probes and possibly frequency gen

Cons: Firstly, my apartment is older with some two-pronged (non-grounded) outlets. I know this can impede speeds, but that is not the primary speed issue, here.

PROPER SPEED TESTING:
To those measuring transfer speeds via speed test websites: that is not an accurate representation for local network device speeds! A test should record the transfer rate a file (10-100 MB or larger) over the local network! This is arguably the easiest and most realistic mode of measurement.

I transferred a file at 48Mbit/s while speedtest.net reported 60Mbit/s, my actual purchased internet speed. I get the same measurement across 802.11ac and gigabit Ethernet. (Similarly, on an 802.11g wireless network at my college speedtest.net reports speeds of 70 Mbps, while actual download speeds are limited to under 3 Mbps. This is why online speed tests are not appropriate for measuring actual local transfer rates.)

Con 1. Speed and design:
Unless I am missing something, with lacking a gigabit port this adapter is designed to be or have a bottleneck.
The theoretical 500Mb/s powerline link is interfaced via a 100Mbps connection to a client.
- 500 megabits (62.5 megabytes) per second, interfaced through a 100 megabits (12.5 megabytes) per second 10/100 “Fast Ethernet” port.
- Curiously, there is hardly any mention of 10/100 or megabit on the item’s box other than listing “One (1) Fast Ethernet port each,” under specifications.
- While I personally understand Fast Ethernet is 100Mbps, I find it suspect that Netgear boasts the 500Mbps powerline speed so vehemently while quietly ignoring how the LAN is 100Mbps. (To be fair, the Trendnet adapters similarly obfuscate Ethernet port speeds.)

Con 2. Connection quality status/Pick-A-Plug LED:
My connection registered a green light, signaling a >80 Mb/s connection. However, real speeds were barely ~48 Mb/s. Either the measurement is somehow uncalibrated or it is dysfunctional? I tried numerous outlets, same result.
If this reflects the 500mbit powerline backbone then it is understandable. However, I can only guess as to why the LAN speeds would be so low if the connection was so healthy. I wouldn't knock an egg off for this one because I see it as trivial.


3. Outlet obstruction:
The plug obstructs both outlets. On one particular outlet of mine almost leaves the room for the unused plug, however it would only work forcing it at an angle (which I didn't want to do.)
I tested many different outlets and most only had room for this large adapter.
Ironically, I could use a two-prong adapter that eliminates the ground plug and it would likely work, since it extends away from the wall. Doing so would appear aesthetically clunky and tacky, however.

I do know that the Trendnet client adapter lacks a ground pin, but I don't know whether Netgear’s noise filter uses the ground to function. It is entirely possible. (Again, not employing an o-scope and other tools for this one.. Maybe someday.)

Other Thoughts: I did not expect to write a negative review and am typically more generous and forgiving, though honest about flaws. However, I can only dress it up so much given the slow speeds, questionable marketing and the minor dysfunctions. Neither the Pick-A-Plug fault nor the outlet obstruction are huge issues to me, since they do not significantly impede the adapter’s function. I can see how they would matter to the average consumer, however. The megabit interface, however, is a huge negative quality that is compounded by how it is presented and advertised.

All in all, absent gigabit Ethernet this adapter should not target customers expecting a 500 Mbps connection. Yet, that is what is advertised. A 100 megabit port on a 500 megabit line is, in reality, a 100 megabit link…It seems pretty straightforward. In spite of knowing this with confidence, I still double-checked and found that no standards have changed. The 1995-era 10/100 “Fast Ethernet” is still the 100 Mbps that is slow by modern standards. for LAN networks. In comparison, more cable internet providers are now offering 100 Mbps internet.

If looking to extend a network (even at this price) I would recommend other options. It really comes down to whether $40 is worth it for a slower 12.5 MB/s connection over the preexisting powerlines. Netgear’s PLP1200-100PAS (Newegg #N82E16833122464) has gigabit but at twice the cost.

Depending on the situation, it appears more reasonable to use a gigabit switch (like this 5-egg one for $18, #N82E16833156250) across Cat 6 Ethernet, 50-feet (#N82E16812119199, $7 to $12) or 100-feet (#N82E16812119219, $13 to $20). This is easily within a $40 budget and certainly under the $80 price of Netgear’s gigabit adapter and the speeds are exponentially greater. However, an Ethernet cable longer than 100-feet requires a more expensive PoE switch.

As of this review, Trendnet’s adapter (#N82E16833156478) has dropped to $54 and reaches speeds five times faster via the N300 wireless compared to this 10/100 port. I am not committed to brand loyalty here, but it is much faster and fills a similar role to this Netgear powerline setup for a marginally higher price.

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TRENDnet TEW-737HRE N300 High Power Easy-N-Range Extender
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

3 out of 5 eggs Fucntional, but better options exist. 08/03/2015

This review is from: TRENDnet TEW-737HRE N300 High Power Easy-N-Range Extender

Pros: Firstly, setup is extremely simple. Ethernet cable -> 192.168.10.100 gateway (configuration IP, put it in the address bar in a web browser to configure the device.) Default username is ‘admin’, password is ‘admin’.

Build is very sturdy and doesn't feel cheaply constructed.

Operational power LED is a yellowish green, not obstructive. While booting it is a soft red. (Light doubles as WPS switch.)

No Ethernet included (not necessarily needed.)


Trendnet includes a CD and easy pictographic instructions in the box. For some reason, there is an additional instructional picture showing how it can repeat a signal, though the picture says it is not to scale and it doesn’t really instruct anything. It’s a bit redundant. The documents are all digital and stored on the disk.

Removable outlet plug, in case someone has to switch between European, US, or other plugs (not included.)

Cons: Price. This device is a bit expensive, comparatively. Buffalo comes to mind with the WHR-300HP2 at $30 (if that much..) and AirStation AC 1200 at $45. Both have wireless bridge functions and for the former, DD-WRT holds transparent bridging. I'm not trying to be a Buffalo fanboy here, but there are much better alternatives for this price point.

Physical on/off power switch. A physical on/off switch for wireless would be nice, too.

Other Thoughts: This review is somewhat short because there isn't much to say. The configuration page for the device is extremely limited and basic. There aren't extensive functions and features to test. It's a straight up device: connect manually or via WPS (not recommended, ever) and it works.
Some additional things to note, however:

The device turns passive once it connects to a wifi network. That means you cannot access the administration page and your leased IP address will come directly from the host router, not the repeater since you're not behind an additional NAT layer.

Very long restart time after joining a wifi network.

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Theodore P.'s Profile

Display Name: Theodore P.

Date Joined: 02/13/11

Achievements:

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  • Reviews: 72
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  • First Review: 03/02/11
  • Last Review: 08/30/15
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