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TP-Link AC750 WiFi Range Extender

Price: $109.99
 

Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours
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Review of TP-Link AC750 WiFi Range Extender, made by TP-Link.

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)

Reviewer:

This range extender provides huge additional coverage, and can easily solve such Wi-Fi issues as blind spots, weak signal areas, and "outside the bubble" problems. The typical small office encounters these more often than the typical home does. But if you're thinking of this for your home then you've probably been frustrated by taking your laptop to a neighbor's to show them some video or other great online find, only to discover your Wi-Fi doesn't reach far enough.

So you go back home and download the video, then walk over to show your neighbor. Or if it's a Website, you go home and write down the URL then walk back over and then type it into the browser on their computer. Or maybe they decide to give you access as a guest, but that involves looking up their router settings and they can't remember where they filed that information. Now you can eliminate that entire series of wasted steps and just get on with sharing your great find.

Before opening the box, I saw on its bottom that this has a two-year warranty and unlimited tech support (24 hrs a day, 7 days a week). That was the first sign that I was going to be in for a good user experience. Nobody puts out a two-year warranty unless their product is really well-made, and nobody provides unlimited tech support (especially in this product price range) unless they've made the product just about idiot-proof.

From the moment I opened the package, I had one pleasant surprise after another. The attention to detail is amazing, and this is truly a quality product.

Typically with tech gadgets you get one unpleasant surprise after another. It normally begins with a crappy package that requires the Jaws of Life to open. This came in a nice box that just slides open. From there, it got better.

My first step in trying this out was to read the Quick Installation Guide. As the cover of this guide states, there are two options for set-up.

Option One for set-up looked a bit complicated, but doable. By "a bit complicated" I mean only a bit. Mainly, it would consist of looking up my router settings and going through the same process I use when adding a device or user to my wireless network. The only reason this is "a bit complicated" is I have a secure network with user ID and password to enter so it's necessary to look up those settings.

Then I read Option 2. I thought, "You have got to be kidding." Can it really be so simple? This option basically gives you a pushbutton method that automatically registers the extender if your router has a WPS button. I looked on the back of my router, and sure enough it has this button. I pushed it, and the extender then did exactly as the guide said it would. Gee, that took all of a quarter second....

The next step is to move the extender to the desired location. I put mine in the farthest indoor position from my router.

Without the extender, the range inside my home drops from five bars to four bars at the interior periphery. I lose the signal altogether when I get to about 1/3 across either next door neighbor's front yard on a line very close to the house (think horizontal) or to the backyard fence in a position directly across from my router (think horizontal) or to within about 15 feet of the farthest corner of my backyard (think diagonal).

With the extender, I had 5 bars at all of these positions. I even had 5 bars across the street at their front door. I live mid-block, and I actually had to walk to the end of the block to get it to dip to 4 bars. This is far more range extension than I could have gotten by running another router off an Ethernet connection to my existing router (an idea I had been toying with, but that's a very long Ethernet cable). I had also looked at running a second router off the first wirelessly, but this seemed problematic at best.

This extender is just a device that plugs into any household receptacle. You can move it around if you want to. So let's say you have a guest bedroom; you can run the device from there to get this huge coverage. If a guest stays and you don't want them to be bothered by the status lights, you can move this to the hallway; as a bonus, the status lights act as a free night light for your guest!

While this extender is perfect for residential applications, I can also see how it solves problems in the typical small office. Let's say you own a small company with a dozen employees. The space you rent is in a strip mall style office park, and the shape is such that your router won't quite cover the whole area. A friend of mine has such an office; it has an upstairs plus a rear storage area. The typical router won't cover all of that, partly because there's so much steel in the way and partly because of the geometry/distance involved. He could plug this extender into any of several convenient places, and eliminate all the blind spots.

I haven't evaluated other products in this category, so can't compare this to the competition. But given the quality, performance, price, and ease of set-up, I don't see a need to do that.

 

 

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