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Friday, August 22, 2014

TP-Link PowerLine Extender Kit Review TL-WPA281KIT

Not being able to get a good signal when your router is just in the next room is one of the biggest mysteries of WiFi. Take my case for example, I live in a condo and I have a relatively good WiFi Router (TP-Link Archer C7 AC, also reviewed here) which I place in my living room. But I only get one bar of signal in my bedroom. I have tried using a wireless range extender but the problem with that is proper placement always seems to be a guessing game. After much research, I decided to try getting a powerline range extender. Basically, what it does is use your home’s electrical wiring to send data, just as if you would run a LAN cable throughout your home. Let's list down the specs and see if this ingenious device actually works.
  • Wireless-N 802.11n for fast wireless speeds and 802.11b/g backwards compatible.
  • HomePlug AV standard compliant, high-speed data transfer rate of up to 200Mbps, enough for HD video
  • Super Small Design with a new exterior, blends in completely in front of any power outlet
  • Up to 300 meters range over the household power circuit for better performance through walls or across floors
  • Easy Plug and Play operation, No configuration required
  • Patented Power-Saving Mode automatically reduces power consumption by up to 65%*
  • Establish a 128-bit AES encryption to secure powerline communications simply by pressing the Pair button on the adapter
  • Built-in QoS assures the quality of bandwidth sensitive applications such as voice, video and online games
  • Supports IGMP managed multicast IP transmission, optimises IPTV streaming
  • A wide range of plug type including EU, UK, AU and US ensures that it can be used nearly all over the world
  • Price Php 2,800.00

After reading a lot of reviews (and some horror stories) about using Powerline routers, I decided to take the plunge and get one. One of my biggest worries was that it would not work in a condominium as most reviews mostly mention houses. Another problem worth mentioning is that depending on how your house's wiring is done it may or may not work. One good thing I had going was that the store I bought if from allowed a 3-day change item policy if it did not work. After reading through the instructions, it seemed quite straightforward and easy. In fact, almost as simple as plug and play. You have to plug the transmitting unit to an electrical outlet near your router and then plug it using a LAN cable to your router. Next, plug your receiving unit to the room where you want and after pressing the pairing button it should work. Unfortunately, mine did not. After repeating the steps, still nothing. I tried going online and followed the trouble shooting tips on the support page. Still nothing. After about one hour, I was ready to give up and conclude that my condo's wiring was not compatible. I decided to give it one more try by pressing the hard reset button and start from scratch. Lo and behold, it worked! It paired up immediately and I was getting fully signal bars in my bedroom.
The model I got only has a speed of 200/Mbs to your router but 300/Mbs within WiFi range of your range extender. If you need faster speed, TP-Link does have other models but a higher price. You can even add another range extender if you have another room with poor signal. This is definitely the best way to improve your WiFi signal coverage in your home. When it works, it is very easy and simple to do. My only suggestion is to get some sort of exchange policy in the event your home's electrical system is not compatible.

The good:
- Works as advertised
- Easy and simple to install (when it works)

The bad:
- More expensive then regular range extenders

- Not compatible with all home wiring systems

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