Government // Mobile & Wireless
News
10/1/2012
03:00 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Tiny Router Packs Big Wi-Fi Punch

The TL-WR702N is a "nano" wireless router for travel or SOHO use. It's not much bigger than a matchbook, yet performs great for less than $25. It's a must-have for anyone who needs to set up a Wi-Fi network quickly.

TP-Link's TL-WR702N "nano" router is aptly named. It's not much bigger than a matchbox, yet works great as a mobile router, bridge, access point, repeater, or client. It's a great way to share or re-use connectivity on the go.

The TL-WR702N retails for a mere $24 MSRP, a better deal than the D-Link SharePort, which provides similar functionality for more than twice the price. Part of the price discrepancy is due to features; the TL-WR702N doesn't include anything like the SharePort's file-sharing functions. But that's no great loss--those features aren't implemented well on the SharePort anyway.

The TL-WR702N is competitive with full-blown routers that cost five times as much. It offers 2.4-GHz IEEE 802.11b/g/n wireless connectivity, WPA and WPA2 encryption, port forwarding via UPnP and port-triggering rules, firewall controls, and even support for services such as DynDNS and NO-IP. Obviously, because the TL-WR702N has only one port, you can't use it as a replacement for a multi-port home router. The TL-WR702N measures just 2.2 inches by 2.2 inches by 0.7 inches (57 x 57 x 18 mm), not including power.

By default, the TL-WR702N comes set up as an access point. Simply plug it into a wired network via the included Ethernet connector and cable; connect the power supply; and log in via the SSID and password printed on the bottom of the unit. I had no trouble using streaming media or other resource-intensive applications through the TL-WR702N, which tops out at a wireless speed of 150 Mbps. It worked well even with fairly intensive media streaming applications such as NetFlix.

Configuring the TL-WR702N for another of its modes requires that you log directly into the router, either by using the included software CD or by configuring your client machine--desktop, notebook, or phone--to use a static address. Once you're in, though, the configuration is easy enough. A wizard lets you pick a mode for the TL-WR702N, and you can tweak all settings manually if need be. Hackers will be pleased to know the router's firmware can be replaced with third-party products such as DD-WRT, although naturally such tinkering would void the warranty.

Another point of comparison with the SharePort is the power supply. That device is a wall wart--it plugs directly into an outlet because it is the power supply. With the TL-WR702N, you connect the USB cable from the micro-USB port on the device to either a PC or to the included wall adapter. Bottom line: I liked the SharePort for being straightforward, but there's a bit more flexibility with the TL-WR702N.

I also admired the SharePort's external hardware switch, which lets you select a behavior (access point, repeater, etc.) without the use of a Web browser. The SharePort's documentation is also better compared to the TL-WR702N's, a single sheet of paper. But bottom line? The TL-WR702N gives you all the most crucial functionality in a small package at a far lower price.

Name: TP-Link TL-WR702N

This tiny wireless router for travel or SOHO use offers good features and dependable performance for a great price.

Price: $24.99 MSRP.

Pro:

  • Small and unobtrusive.
  • Can be powered either by USB or wall current.
  • Multiple modes: access point, repeater, and others.

Con:

  • Initial configuration can be a little awkward.
  • Almost no documentation.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - August 27, 2014
Who wins in cloud price wars? Short answer: not IT. Enterprises don't want bare-bones IaaS. Providers must focus on support, not undercutting rivals.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Howard Marks talks about steps to take in choosing the right cloud storage solutions for your IT problems
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.