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TP-Link 150 Mbps Wireless N Nano Router TL-WR702N Review
The TP-Link 150 Mbps Wireless N Nano Router is a very good traveling companion for those who need flexible and ubiquitous wireless connectivity but sloppy documentation is likely to frustrate those not experienced in configuring Wi-Fi.
(3.5 out of 5)
- Ultra-portable, small form
- Good throughput
- Easy to set up as AP and router
- Sloppy documentation
- No USB port as on some competing devices
TP-Link’s 150 Mbps Wireless N Nano Router (TL-WR702N) is a fully-functioning 802.11n router that’s about the size of a pillbox. It’s an intriguing-looking little blue and white box that measures 0.7 x 2.2 x 2.2 (HWD). Don’t be fooled by the small size. This device can function as a router, repeater, and wireless extender. For $20, TP-Link’s Nano router is a very good gadget to have for traveling and setting up an on-the-fly secured wireless network and providing Internet access to the wireless devices you bring on your travels.
Although it lacks some of the features of the competing ZuniConnect Travel Router, namely a USB port for charging wireless clients such as smartphones, the TP-Link Nano router is still a great deal, particular for more technical users.
Specs and Setup
TP-Link’s device operates at the 2.4 GHz band with a theoretical throughput rate of up to 150 Mbps. It has a Fast Ethernet port which can serve as either a WAN or LAN port, depending on which mode the device is configured. The case also has a micro USB port and ships with a USB cable and adapter. This USB cable powers the device either by using an adapter or through the USB port connected to a computer. An accompanying tiny CD has the full user manual.
A sticker on the bottom of the router has the default SSID, username, and password. The sticker also has the device’s default IP and MAC address.
By default, the TP-Link 150 Mbps Wireless N Nano Router runs in Access Point (AP) mode, which means it functions as a typical wireless router. If, for example, you’re in a hotel where there is only a single Ethernet cable for Internet access you can use the Nano router in AP mode. Connect an active Internet connection with an Ethernet cable into the Nano’s LAN/WAN port. Once the device has an active WAN connection, the lone LED on the router, blinks a steady blue. This means the WAN connection is active and the router is ready to function as an AP.
Once I connected the device to WAN link, I was easily able to connect wireless devices using the pre-configured information on the sticker. Using the Nano as an AP, which is what most users will likely want to do, is absurdly easy.
Other Modes and Features
The Nano router can also operate as a Bridge, or Wireless Repeater. The repeater mode is equivalent to the ZuniConnect’s WISP mode—which allows devices to share one wireless connection. I found configuring the Nano’s Repeater mode easier than setting up the Zuni’s WISP mode. However, the Nano’s documentation on setting up repeater mode is sloppy, missing steps, and likely to confuse those not experience with wireless networking.
To change the Nano from AP to Repeater mode, you have to go onto the wireless interface (via a browser using the device’s IP address) and under the “Modes” setting, switch the radio button from AP to Repeater.
The Nano forces a reboot for the change to apply. This little router reboots very quickly, in just a few seconds. When the device returns from reboot, you can’t reconnect wirelessly because the device is no longer set up as an AP or router. You have to manually match your computer’s IP address settings to the IP settings of the Nano router and then use an Ethernet cable to connect to the device to finish setting it up as a Repeater. While some of the steps are documented in the Quick Install Guide that ships with the device and in the user guide enough steps are missing to make the setup process confounding for average users.
When you get through setting up the device as a repeater, it works well. In Repeater mode, the interface has as additional screen that lets you display all wireless networks in proximity. You can click on the SSID you want to use the device as a repeater with, for secured networks, you need to be able to supply the password or key to log on.
The Nano router can run in Mixed mode or 802.11 b-, g-, or n-only mode. MAC filtering is supported as well as DHCP and DHCP reservation. There are some advanced wireless settings such as being able to set the router’s transmit power and information is displayed within the interface about connected clients such as the amount of packets they are transmitting and receiving. Ping and traceroute can be executed via the interface for diagnostics.
The router is on par feature-wise with the ZuniConnect, but I do like the additonal Intell+IP Address Division feature in the Zuni router which helps ward off any IP address conflict issues automatically.
The TP-Link Nano router provides decent performance, almost equal to the ZuniConnect, with both devices achieving about 60 Mbps at 15 feet. Here are throughput numbers for both configured in Mixed mode:
TL-WR702N Performance Results
You can see throughput is similar on both devices. TP-Link’s range is a bit better running in 802.11n-only mode than in Mixed Mode. Throughput is very good for a 150 Mbps router and is actually not so far off from throughout of some standard-sized 300 Mbps router on the market. It’s definitely a powerful enough device to connect multiple wireless devices to use Internet access, but will probably not handle high-definition video streaming within a WLAN without lag.
Sweet, Petite and Cheap
You can’t beat a $20 travel gadget that lets you setup ad-hoc wireless LANs, secure, private hotspots, or extend an existing WLAN. The Zuni router has an edge with the Intelli IP feature and of course, the USB port for charging USB devices at a competitive street price of $38. Also, changing modes with the TP-Link device is likely to frustrate user inexperience with wireless networking. As so often the case with wireless devices, cheaper usually requires a bit more elbow grease and know-how to get a device going.
TP-Link’s Nano router is a very good traveling companion for those who need flexible and ubiquitous wireless connectivity. It’s an easy 3.5 stars with a few points knocked off, mainly because of its bad documentation.
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By Samara Lynn, PCMag