Review: TP-LINK TL-WPA4220KIT
June 25, 2014
In my home, we have a network with a dozen or so wireless clients, iPads, phones, and laptops. Our modem is located on the basement floor in one corner of our house, and the wireless access point ( a Netgear R7000 “NightHawk” wireless AC router) is located in roughly the same area. Coverage within the house on all three floors is pretty good, even in the opposite corner of the house two stories up. However, on the opposite side of the house there is also a garage and a gazebo outside which are just out of range to have decent connectivity.
Previously I had an older Linksys WRT54GS acting as a repeater to get access out there, but because repeaters are limited to half of their possible maximum throughput (27Mbps maximum theoretical), I was getting poor speeds that were reaching only about half of my 30 Mbps connection.
This was no longer acceptable to me, because the router was also old and would intermittently drop out all together and reboot, causing problems even IN the house if a phone decided to connect to the repeater rather than the main access-point. I changed the SSID to get around this problem, but it was impractical to connect and then reconnect when roaming.
My hopes rested on one of two options: purchase another $200 router and set it up as a repeater. The problem with that is the Netgear I have is rather large and would take up much needed space on the workbench in the garage. The second option was Homeplug, and TP-Link offers a nice solution for just such a problem. For $70 dollars, you get a HomePlug AV 500 adapter and a small HomePlug enabled accespoint (300Mbps N) with a small built in fast Ethernet switch. This is the option I chose.
Setup and Results
The TP-Link was pretty easy to setup, although documentation was very lacking and the “tools” they provide you on the mini-cd are pretty useless. All you have to do is plug the smaller adapter in the box into a switch or your home router, push the button on the front, run to wherever you want the access-point to go, plug it in and push the button on that device. You have two minutes to do this or you will have to start over. This button is used as security between the two devices, in case your power-line network leaks over to your neighbors house. After that, your access-point should receive an IP via DHCP from your router and you can either use the tool on the min-cd they give you or you can login by typing its IP address into a browser on a device on your network. There you can setup the device as you see fit.
My results were pretty good. I managed to go from about 15-20 Mbps on my old solution to 47 Mbps. This allowed me to fully utilize my internet connection and allows me to stream multiple videos from my home server. The access-point itself has pretty good range and I am able to get wifi in most of the backyard, and it also has a pair of fast Ethernet ports you can use for hooking up a TV or a streaming device. My only worry is that the access-point actually gets pretty hot and I worry about how long it will last.
Homeplug has come a long way. It is able to jump breakers and can be used anywhere in your home. It has been much more reliable than a wireless repeater and after two weeks of use It hasn’t seemed to drop any clients or reboot. I highly recommend this product to anyone with a similar situation.