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Wireless Reviews

N600 Universal Dual Band WiFi Entertainment Adapter with 4 Ports
At a glance
ProductTP-LINK N600 Universal Dual Band WiFi Entertainment Adapter with 4 Ports (TL-WA890EA)   [Website]
SummaryN600 bridge with four-port 10/100 switch
Pros• Four port switch
Cons• Performance, especially 5 GHz

Typical Price: $121  Buy From Amazon

Introduction

TP-LINK's TL-WA890EA didn't make it in on time to be included in our mini-roundup of the Edimax CV-7438nDM and NETGEAR's WNCE3001 N600 bridges. So it's getting its own little review.

Remember, an N600 bridge has a maximum link rate of 300 Mbps in either band. Adapters and bridges never operate simultaneously in both bands.

Like the Edimax and NETGEAR bridges, the TL-WA890EA functions only as a bridge. Unlike the other two, however, it includes a four-port 10/100 switch.

Note the micro-USB port on the callout diagram below, which is used to power the bridge. The bridge's quick install guide says you can't power it by connecting to a "nearby device's" USB port. But I did anyway from both a laptop and desktop USB port and didn't have a problem.

TP-LINK includes a 5V @ 1A wall-wart supply with USB jack and cable so that you can properly follow instructions.

TP-LINK TL-WA890EA callouts

TP-LINK TL-WA890EA callouts

The bridge is very light and tended to get dragged around by its power and Ethernet cables. It would have been nice if TP-LINK provided a weighted base. But at least they did include mounting screw slots on the bottom.

Inside

The FCC ID photo clearly shows the Realtek RTL8196D SoC that serves as the main CPU and switch.

TP-LINK TL-WA890EA board

TP-LINK TL-WA890EA board

The radio device isn't clearly identifiable from the photo, but WikiDevi tags it as the Realtek RTL8192DR, which is also used in the NETGEAR WNCE3001.

  TP-LINK TL-WA890EA NETGEAR WNCE3001
CPU Realtek RTL8196D Realtek RTL8196C
Switch / Ethernet In CPU In CPU
RAM 16 MB 16 MB
Flash 4 MB ? MB
Radio Realtek RTL8192DR + Skyworks (SiGe) SE5005L 5 GHz power amp (x2) Realtek RTL8192DR
TL-WA890EA component summary and comparison

The design is unique in that it has outboard amplifiers (Skyworks (SiGe) SE5005L) for only 5 GHz. We usually see external amplifiers for neither band or both.

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