Update 3/30/2012: Changes from TP-LINK feedback
|At a glance|
|Product||TP-LINK 150Mbps Wireless N Mini Pocket Router (TL-WR700N) [Website]|
|Summary||Pocket-sized budget-friendly single-stream 2.4 GHz 802.11bgn AP, router, bridge, client, repeater|
|Pros||• Lots of modes|
• Wall-wart format
• Decent documentation
• Very inexpensive
|Cons||• No WPS|
• Can't use as wired router
• Lower range than full-sized APs/routers
Typical Price: $25 Shop Amazon
I'm not sure of the market for wireless travel routers, given the wide availability of wireless access in hotels these days. But given the marketing push that TP-LINK is giving its TL-WR700N 150Mbps Wireless N Mini Pocket Router, at least they think there is one. However, the company is hedging its bet by also endowing its tiny wonder with wireless AP, bridge, repeater and client modes.
The 700N is about the size of the palm of your hand. Into this compact package, TP-LINK has crammed a reset switch, AC power supply, one 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port and a wireless indicator light. And, oh yeah, circuitry for the single-stream (150 Mbps maximum link rate) 802.11bgn functions, too.
Figure 1: TP-LINK TL-WR700N connectors and ports
The heart of the 700N is an Atheros AR9331 SoC, which also includes the single-stream N 2.4 GHz radio. The photo in Figure 2 reveals 16 MB of RAM, but we couldn't find the flash chip. As you can see, there isn't much to it.
Figure 2: TP-LINK TL-WR700N internals
Logging into the admin screen for the first time brings up the Quick Setup wizard (Figure 3) with five different options for setting up the TL-WR700N. These include AP (Access Point), Router, Repeater, Bridge, and Client modes. Each mode has its own set of configuration parameters, such as QoS that can be set only in Router mode. Note that you aren't forced to change the admin password as part of setup.
Figure 3: TP-LINK TL-WR700N modes
The different configuration options and its small size make the TL-WR700N a handy and inexpensive device for things like extending wireless coverage and connecting an Ethernet-only device to a wireless network.
It's been mentioned many times here that repeating probably isn't the best way to extend your wireless range. Repeating uses a single radio to receive and retransmit, so maximum possible bandwidth to a repeater-connected client is cut in half. For best throughput, the TL-WR700N should be connected to your LAN via Ethernet and configured as an AP. But when Ethernet isn't available, a slow, repeated connection is better than none!
Curiously missing is WPS (Wireless Protected Setup). For such a wide variety of features packed into such a tiny shell, I was a little surprised that WPS was not supported. The lack of WPS is an indication that the 700N is not Wi-Fi Certified, since WPS support is a Certification requirement.
Despite its small package and lack of WPS support, the TP-LINK TL-WR700N has a nice set of features in an admin interface that is nicely laid out and user-friendly. While going through the TL-WR700N's various admin screens, I really forgot that this was a sub-$30 router that could fit in the plam of my hand.
The features were everything you would expect in a router costing much more. Here's a quick feature summary:Routing
• DHCP Server, range setting, lease time setting, default gateway, primary and secondary DNS, and default domain
• DHCP Client list
• DHCP reservation
• Virtual Server entry for single or multiple ports with TCP, UDP or all protocols forwarded. Enable/disable for each entry. Some common applications provided.
• Port triggering – can set individual or range of incoming ports. Allows you to enable or disable TCP and UDP ports on network devices.
• DMZ Host
• UPnP enable/disable
• DDNS support for Dyndns (www.dyndns.org), Comexe (www.comexe.cn), Peanuthull (www.oray.net)
• VPN Passthrough enable/disable for PPTP, L2TP and IPSec
• DoS (denial of service) enable/disable
• Enable UDP Flood filtering (with settable threshold)
• Enable TCP-SYN Flood attack filtering (with settable threshold)
• Ignore Ping Packet from WAN port
• Remote Management on WAN enable/disable
• MAC address filtering
• IP address filtering
• Domain filtering
• Internet access control - Rule based access control for host (domain name or IP address)
• AP, Router, Client, Bridge, and Repeater modes
• Auto and manual channel set
• SSID broadcast enable/disable
• Enable/disable wireless
• Beacon interval, RTS threshold, Fragmentation Threshold adjustments
• Wireless MAC address filtering (allow or deny based on MAC address)
• WMM disable
• Short GI disable
• Wireless modes: b-only, g-only, n-only, mixed b/g, mixed b/g/n (default)
• Channel width 20MHz/40MHz
• Transmit power adjust, High, Middle, Low
• Wireless network statistics, packets sent/received, active associated clients