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Hands On

I tried setting up the device using both the WPS and manual methods and ran into a couple of glitches. Using the WPS method, I launched the app on my Samsung S5 and clicked on LAN search. The Smart Switch had successfully negotiated a connection with my wireless network and the Samsung was on the same Wi-Fi network. But the app reported that it couldn't find any devices. I tried the LAN search several more times with the same results.

I then clicked on the QR Code icon, which turns on your device's camera so you can scan the QR code. The QR code contains the THA-101's unique 20 digit device ID code, which the app automatically pastes it into the correct field. By searching for the device ID, I was able to find the device on the network and continue with the configuration. I'm not sure why it was unable to find the device by scanning. Perhaps the timeout for the search is too short. My network had 25 active devices at the time the scan was performed, and perhaps the scan didn't have enough time to scan all of the devices to find the Smart Switch.

For the manual method, using the app-based Wi-Fi site survey also was problematic. The site survey found 22 networks, but failed to find my own two networks. I had a similar problem with the Web-based UI (more on that later), which seemed to have a limit of 31 networks.

I will admit that my condo-based office is in an area with a lot of Wi-Fi networks. Most people in our community have Comcast as an ISP, which has been providing wireless routers with Wi-Fi enabled for every customer - whether they use it or not. The number of visible wireless networks, along with those that don't broadcast their SSIDs, appeared to be more than the app could handle.

Once you've connected to your network, the Wi-Fi range extender is configured. After connecting the device to my home network using WPS, the THA-101 still appeared in my network list asTHA-101_C058. When I attached to that network name and provided the default password, I had Internet access, which showed that the range extender was working.

If you want to change the name of the wireless network on the extender, it's easy to do with the web browser interface (see section below). Some people may prefer to have an extender use the same SSID as the network it is extending. In fact, that's how Linksys configures the RE6500 wireless extender. I usually append "-Ext" to my WLAN's SSID when using wireless extenders, so that I know for sure which AP I'm connecting to.

To test the THA-101's range extender, I moved the device to another room in my condo. Granted, my condo isn't too large and is mostly adequately covered with my D-Link DIR-880L. However, from my upstairs office, I connected to the THA-101 which I had located downstairs. Attached to the extender, I successfully streamed HD video from Hulu Plus without interruption, jitter or pixelizing.

Once configured, you'll be able to control the switch from anywhere. TRENDnet's app appears to use some sort of relay, because it didn't require that I manually open router ports or enable UPnP on my router. I tested the app using public Wi-Fi at a local restaurant as well as on my 4G LTE cell phone with Wi-Fi disabled and was able to control the switch just fine.

Once you fire up the app, you'll land at the home page shown in the left panel of the composite image below. If you tap on the power outlet icon to the left of the device name, you will land at the Device Status page. It will show that the load socket on the device is either energized (center), or turned off (right). Tapping on the large power icon will toggle the load socket off or on.

TRENDnet THA-101 mobile app Home page and Device Status pages

TRENDnet THA-101 iOS mobile app Home page and Device Status pages

It is very easy to set up a schedule using the browser-based interface or either of the mobile apps. The composite image below shows the creation of an "On" schedule on Saturday. The left two panes show the scheduling on iOS. On my Samsung S5, the aspect ratio is somewhat different than the iPad, so the day of week selection appears on the same page rather than on a separate page.

TRENDnet THA-101 schedule creation with iOS (left and center) and Android (right) apps
TRENDnet THA-101 schedule creation with iOS (left and center) and Android (right) apps

Web Browser Interface

You can also log into the device's web browser interface if you're connected to your local network. With the browser interface, you can configure every feature of the THA-101, including creating schedules. If you haven't changed the factory default settings, you can attach to the THA-101's wireless network using the name found on the label. Once connected, you can go to http://192.168.10.100 and use the default login credentials of admin/admin as shown on the label. NOTE: If 192.168.10.X isn't your router's IP subnet, you'll need to change the IP of the device you're connecting to the THA-101 to an IP address in that range.

I didn't connect to the Web browser interface until after I had configured the THA-101 using the mobile apps. So finding the IP address of the configured device can be a bit of a challenge. Most of our readers will probably feel comfortable logging into their router and looking for the device in the device or DHCP lease table. You can also ping the default host's name, THA-101, to determine the IP address as shown below.

Ping the default host name (THA-101) to determine the IP address

Ping the default host name (THA-101) to determine the IP address

On my iPad, one of my favorite iOS network utility apps is Overlook Soft's Fing. It scanned my local network for active IP addresses and services and easily found the THA-101 at 192.168.1.44.

iiOS app Fing also found the IP addres of the THA-101

iOS app Fing also found the IP addres of the THA-101

Here's the status page from the browser-based interface.

TRENDnet THA-101 Web UI status page

TRENDnet THA-101 Web UI status page

I've included a gallery showing additional screenshots from the web UI. It's much like what you'd find on a wireless extender, plus the additional features of power control and scheduling. Interestingly, you can add/remove schedules, but you can't edit previously saved schedules.

Closing Thoughts

I followed the setup instructions in the Quick Start Guide, as that's probably what many consumers would do - assuming they read directions at all. I was disappointed that the device wasn't found on the local network with the LAN search feature and that the site survey within the apps didn't find either of my two wireless networks, despite multiple attempts. It appears that there's a limit of how many wireless networks both the apps and the web UI can display.

I'll admit that, for a SOHO network, I have a significant number of connected devices and that my 2.4 GHz RF environment is terribly crowded with sometimes upwards of 40 in-range networks. Both of those conditions may have contributed to my setup issues. Consumers with less crowded wireless environments may not experience either of the problems that I ran into.

Having set up hundreds of browser-based devices, I was tempted to go directly to the web UI and skip the instructions in the QSG. You might try the same thing if you experience setup problems. I did find that using the QR Code was a sure-fire way for the apps to find the device on the local network. And, if you have a device that doesn't have a camera to scan the QR code, you can enter in the 20 digit device ID code - it's printed on the back of the device.

Once configured, the device performed flawlessly. The range extender did what it was supposed to do. I streamed video via the extender from a normally low-signal room without any problems. I was also able to turn devices on and off remotely—something I like to do while I'm away on vacation—as well as on the defined schedules. I especially like that you can see how much power is flowing through the THA-100. I plugged various devices into a power strip just to see how much energy they were using.

So if you're looking for a simple single band N300 range extender or a smart switch, why not get both with the TRENDnet THA-101?

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