- — 17 October, 2011 22:00
|Name||Wireless AP/Client Router: TP-Link TL-WR743ND|
|At a glance:||150MBps 802.11b/g with ‘some n features’,Four 10/100Mbit wired ports,PoE simplifies cabling and router placement,Great performance, simple setup|
|Summary:||A brilliant Wi-Fi router for simple home setups.|
It’s hard to get excited over routers, until yours doesn’t work. We fixed that problem in the PC World labs recently by swapping in TP-Link’s TL-WR743ND Wireless AP/Client router. The box reads ‘The Reliable Choice’ and thus far, I have to agree with it.
In the wired department, the WR743ND features a single 10/100Mbps WAN port to connect to your ADSL modem or other internet-providing-device, and four 10/100Mbps LAN ports. So, no gigabit Ethernet. This is a wireless device first and foremost, not designed to shift masses of data around via its wired interface.
Wirelessly you’ve got 802.11b/g, with ‘some n features’ providing 150Mbps connectivity. There’s a single, slightly longer-than-average antenna, and wall-mounting the WR743ND at eye-level in our lab provided great coverage across a fairly wide area.
Setup is nice and simple, with TP-Link’s excellent web-based configuration interface sporting the usual in-depth, well-written help on every page. I had the lab Wi-Fi up and running in less than ten minutes from unboxing, which might be a new record for me.
The only thing I really missed was the ability to set up an independent ‘guest’ network, which only provides internet access and doesn’t allow communication with other networked devices. That said, this is an $89 router – the omission isn’t unreasonable, just disappointing.
One fantastic feature is the inclusion of PoE, or Power over Ethernet. You get a PoE ‘injector’ in the box, which is a tiny wall-mounted device with a power socket and two Ethernet ports – an input (LAN) and output (PoE). You connect this to your ADSL modem or other such device via the LAN port and a standard Ethernet cable. Then, connect the WR743ND ‘s power adapter to the injector rather than to the router itself. Finally, connect the injector to the router via the PoE port. You can use any standard Ethernet cable up to 30 metres long for this. Power is then carried over that Ethernet cable.
Why would you ever do this? Convenience. Placing your router in the right spot, whether that be half-way up your office wall, atop a bookcase or discretely in the corner of the kitchen bench, is essential to attaining the best wireless performance over the widest possible area. If you’re tied to locations within short reach of a power socket, that really limits your options: particularly if you live in an older house as I do, where there’s only one solitary power socket per room, often in the least convenient place possible.
If you don’t need to use the PoE feature, you don’t have to: just leave the injector in its box, and plug the power adapter straight into the router. Easy as that. Having this feature straight out of the box, no extras required (assuming you’ve already got cables), is a great touch – particularly on what I’ve already pointed out to be a basic $89 router.
Altogether, I wish I had one of these at home. The lack of ‘guest’ network functionality puts me off slightly in the office, though its speed and reliability compared to the many previous models we’ve used, and the convenience of PoE, almost offset that downside. If you need a simple and speedy Wireless router for home use, look no further.