To setup the TL-WR1043ND, you have two choices. You can use the Windows-based easy setup program that’s included on a 3 1/8” CD (along with the user manual). Or you can manually set up the router by plugging in the cables according to printed Quick Installation Guide and pointing your web browser to http://tplinklogin.net.
If you choose to use the Easy Setup program, Figures 2 and 3 will give you a flavor of the program. You’ll be guided through the setup process, and be asked to specify type of ISP connection (static, DHCP or PPOE), a name for your wireless network, the type of wireless security you prefer, and a wireless passphrase.
Figure 2: TP-LINK Easy Setup Assistant
The setup program recommends that you enable wireless security, but doesn’t force you to use security. Nor does the setup program even ask about changing the administrator’s password.
Figure 3: Final confirmation of the settings you input
When you log into the web UI, you land at the Status page shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: TP-Link TL-WR1043ND landing (status) page
The entire user interface is formatted exactly the same way as the landing page: On the left, you have icons for individual menus; in the center of the screen you either have a status pane or a configuration pane; on the right side of the screen, you have a help pane that scrolls independently from the configuration pane. The Help shown corresponds to the settings in the configuration pane, and is often a verbatim pickup of the text in the user manual.
Figure 5 shows an enlarged view of the list of menus that appear on the left side of the UI. Many of these submenus allow for standard configuration of common features detailed above. So I’ll only comment in detail on sections that I feel need specific mention.
Figure 5: Configuration menus that appear on the left side of the web interface
Quick Setup - Browser-based wizard for setting up Internet connection
QSS - What everyone else calls Wi-Fi Protected Setup. PIN and pushbutton methods are supported.
Network - Basic configuration for WAN, LAN and MAC clone function.
This menu allows you to configure all of the wireless settings listed in the wireless features above. Under wireless, however there are several interesting things to note. As Tim noted in his overview, the TL-WR1043ND did not properly default to 20MHz bandwidth mode, even though it is Wi-Fi Certified.
Auto channel selection appeared to work well. In my location, there are numerous wireless networks and the TL-WR1043ND chose channel 9 as the best operating channel. Based on a site survey, this looked like a good choice.
The TL-WR1043ND does not support multiple SSIDs or a guest network. Since many routers now include a guest network with separate configurable security settings, this puts the TL-WR1043ND at a disadvantage if that’s a feature that you would use.
Figure 6 shows the wireless security settings page. Interestingly, the Group Key Update Period defaults to 0 which means that the group keys aren’t rotated. Since rotation of keys is a key element in wireless security it should default to something greater than 0. Some routers that I’ve seen use a key rotation period of 3600 seconds.