TP-Link TL-WR702N

TP-Link TL-WR702N

Portable 150Mbps Wireless N router

TP-Link’s TL-WR702N ‘Wireless N Nano Router’ is a wireless multi-tool extraordinaire, capable of serving as a wi-fi access point, router, client, repeater or bridge.

It’s the smallest such device we’ve tested to date, at just 57 x 57 x 18mm. This contributes to its usefulness – whether you want a portable travel router, or a tiny wireless client to wi-fi enable your Ethernet-only smart TV or game console.

The TL-WR702N is powered over USB, with a standard Micro USB connector and cable included. To use it with your smart TV or console, you can power it from a USB port on said device – no power adapter necessary.

For situations where there’s no USB port handy, a USB-mains power adapter is included. We’ve seen far smaller adapters ship with smartphones and tablets, and given that this is the smallest router we’ve tested, we think the power supply should be sized to match.

It’s one of the simplest routers we’ve seen in terms of connectivity. There’s a single 10/100 Ethernet port, Micro USB port for power, a single blue status LED, and a push-pin ‘Reset’ button. That’s it. There are no switches or complicated lights; it’s simple as can be.

Performance is good – in our lab tests, we achieved up to 94Mbit/sec over 2.4GHz wireless-n (there’s no 5GHz support), in both router and access point modes. It’s not the maximum 150Mbit/sec that it advertises, but it’s a respectable speed, and allowed us to stream 1080p video without issue.

We took the TL-WR702N on the road for a couple of weeks, using it in access point and router modes to connect an array of wi-fi gadgets to wired hotel internet. It proved even more useful than we were expecting. Even in hotels that charge by device the TL-WR702N serves as the one device you pay for, and happily shares the internet with the rest of your devices at no additional cost. Bridge mode comes in handy to connect the TL-WR702N to an existing wireless network, and rebroadcast that connection with a new SSID and your own security settings.

I configured my laptop, smartphone and eBook reader with the connection details for the TL-WR702N, then just connected it to the internet wherever I was. It saved me having to set up new connections and enter painfully long wi-fi passwords repeatedly.

At home, the repeater mode is useful to extend the range of your existing wireless network. It simply rebroadcasts the existing signal with the same SSID and security, so you don’t have a whole mess of different

wi-fi networks for different parts of your home or office.

Despite its slightly bulky power adapter, I found the TL-WR702N to be the perfect travel companion and round-the-house tool, but for one major flaw. At present, there’s no IPv6 support (nor has TP-Link announced an upcoming firmware update to provide it). Sure, it may be available in future, but it’s safest to buy the TL-WR702N on the assumption that it won’t be.

Nowhere in my travels did this prove an issue, but it’s going to crop up more and more as time goes on. For something with such a wide range of uses, the lack of IPv6 support is a let-down.

This fault is not unique to the TL-WR702N, however, and like I said, it never affected me in my real-world usage of the device. Between that and the overly-large power adapter I’d knock a star from the device’s otherwise Platinum rating, leaving it with a respectable Excellent 4 stars.

If you’re after a compact wired-to-wireless adapter, wi-fi repeater or travel router for use with IPv4 networks, we've yet to see anything better in this size and price range. The product lists for $60 including GST. TP-Link is distributed in New Zealand by Anyware Computer Accessories.

This review first appeared in the November issue of PC World.

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