Review: TP-Link TL-WR702N
- — 31 October, 2012 22:00
|Name||Portable 150Mbps Wireless N router: TP-Link TL-WR702N|
|At a glance:||Works as an AP/Router/Client/Repeater/Bridge,Supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 10/100Mbps Ethernet,USB powered, includes mains adapter|
|Summary:||Superb multi-purpose Wi-Fi router, but lacks IPv6 and would benefit from a smaller power adapter.|
TP-Link’s TL-WR702N ‘Wireless N Nano Router’ is a wireless multi-tool extraordinaire, capable of serving as a Wi-Fi access point, router, client, repeater or bridge.
It’s the smallest such device we’ve tested to date, at just 57 x 57 x 18mm. This contributes to its usefulness across a range of applications – whether you want a portable travel router, or a tiny wireless client to Wi-Fi enable your Ethernet-only smart TV or game console.
The TL-WR702N is powered over USB, with a standard Micro USB connector and cable included. This means if you do want to use it with your smart TV or console, you can power it from a USB port on said device – no power adapter necessary.
For situations where there’s no USB port handy, a USB-mains power adapter is included. Unfortunately it’s a little on the bulky side – we’ve seen far smaller adapters ship with smartphones and tablets, for instance. This might seem like a minor annoyance, but given that this is the smallest router we’ve tested, we really do think the power supply should be sized to match.
As well as the smallest, this has got to be one of the simplest routers we’ve seen in terms of connectivity. There’s a single 10/100 Ethernet port, aforementioned Micro USB port for power, a single blue status LED, and a push-pin ‘Reset’ button. That’s it. There’s no way to plug anything in wrong, no switches or complicated lights, simple as can be.
Performance is good – in our lab tests, we consistently achieved up to 94Mbit/sec over 2.4GHz wireless N (there’s no 5GHz support). This was true for both router and access point modes. It’s not the maximum 150Mbit/sec that wireless N advertises, but a number of other wireless networks and 2.4GHz wireless devices in the vicinity are likely to have provided some interference. It’s still a respectable speed, and allowed us to stream 1080p video without issue.
We took the TL-WR702N on the road for a couple of weeks, using it in its access point and router modes to connect an array of Wi-Fi gadgets to wired hotel internet. It proved even more useful than we were expecting. Even in hotels that provide Wi-Fi, charges are often ‘by device’ – that is, you would have to pay twice to connect both your smartphone and laptop. The TL-WR702N eliminates that limitation – it serves as the ‘one device’ you pay for, and happily shares the internet with the rest of your devices at no additional cost. The ‘bridge’ mode comes in handy here, too – letting you connect the TL-WR702N to an existing wireless network, and rebroadcast that connection with a new SSID and your own security settings.
I found it handy to configure all my mobile devices – laptop, smartphone, e-reader – with the connection details for the TL-WR702N, then just find a way to connect that to the internet wherever I was. Even if there was already good secure Wi-Fi available, it saved me having to set up new connections all the time, particularly on devices like e-readers where entering long Wi-Fi passwords can be truly painful.
At home, the ‘repeater’ mode is handy for extending the range of your existing wireless network. It simply rebroadcasts the existing signal with the same SSID and security, so you don’t have a whole mess of different Wi-Fi networks for different parts of your home or office.
Despite its slightly bulky power adapter, I found the TL-WR702N to be the perfect travel companion and round-the-house tool, but for one major flaw. At present, there is no IPv6 support (nor has TP-Link announced an upcoming firmware update to provide it). Sure, it may be available in future, but it’s safest to buy the TL-WR702N on the assumption that it won’t be.
Nowhere in my travels did this prove an issue, but it’s going to crop up more and more as time goes on. For something with such a wide range of uses, the lack of IPv6 support is a real let-down.
This fault is not unique to the TL-WR702N, however, and like I said, it never effected me in my real-world usage of the device. Between that and the overly-large power adapter I’d knock a star from the device’s otherwise Platinum rating, leaving it with a respectable ‘Excellent’ 4 stars.
If you’re after a compact wired-to-wireless adapter, Wi-Fi repeater or travel router for use with IPv4 networks, we’ve yet to see anything better in this size and price range.