TP-Link 150Mbps Wireless Lite-N Router
Considering the astonishingly low price, TP-Link has cut remarkably few corners with its budget router.
+ Incredibly cheap 802.11n router
+ Quality of software on device defies its price
- Partial use of 802.11n’s advanced options reduce cost
- Best for users with Ethernet direct from ISP
If you haven't yet upgraded your 802.11g (or maybe even 802.11b) wireless router to 802.11n, your chief reason is probably the cost. New technology invariably comes with a premium price tag but this is precisely where TP-Link is bucking the trend by marketing an 802.11n router that's yours for just £16.
At this price, you can't expect the world on a plate, and you certainly don't get it. This router is aimed at cable broadband users or those with Ethernet ADSL modems. The unit itself is limited to a single antenna and a bare minimum of ports - one WLAN port to connect to your incoming Ethernet cable, and four LAN ports to send a wired network elsewhere. The 802.11n features operate up to 150Mbps, so although they're not making the most of the multi-bandwidth options that the standard is capable of, it's still an improvement on 802.11g technology.
We tested the router using PassMark's WirelessMon software (www.passmark.com) in a domestic setting, comparing it to an 802.11g router and a higher-specified 802.11n model. The results were predictable - we found a significant improvement in range and signal strength over the 802.11g model, but the more expensive 802.11n model (quoting 300Mbps performance) was better than the TP-Link.
Ease of use
Cable broadband customers looking to hook this directly up to their ISP will find the supplied documentation and set-up easy to follow. However, if you're an ADSL user with an Ethernet modem, you might struggle - we had to hunt through the manual to find information on configuring this kind of network.
Value for money
No, we haven't got it wrong, TP-Link really is suggesting a retail price of £16 for this router. Comparable models from rivals aren't exactly ultra-expensive but this model has cut far fewer corners than you might expect for the price. It's actually quite impressive in terms of its software and documentation. If you've been sticking to an older 802.11g router because you can't really justify the expense of a new one, your argument has just been wiped out.