Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Inexpensive, easy to use and has good features.
- Quick Setup process doesn't focus on security, no on/off switch
All up, this is a terrific little wireless router for an ADSL or cable Internet connection. It's inexpensive, easy to use and has good features. We do wish the Quick Setup process focused on security, too, and we also wish the unit had an on/off switch, for more simple resets.
Price$ 65.00 (AUD)
For a router that you can probably buy for around $60 from your preferred reseller, TP-Link's WR541G is amazingly simple to setup and use.
Its Quick Setup will take you through three main stages: account type, which for most ADSL users should be PPPoE; user details, for logging into your ADSL account; wireless networking, which requires you to choose your region and then select a name for your network.
The process is not intricate and the framed HTML interface of the router is clearly laid out and easy to navigate. A help section is prominent at all times in its own HTML frame and it displays pertinent information about the settings of the router you are currently viewing or manipulating. We do wish the setup process continued on to make you change the password for the router instead of letting you continue with the defaults. Likewise, we wish it would also prompt you to enable wireless security.
Nevertheless, after enabling wireless networking, be sure to click on the Wireless heading in the Basic Settings section, from where you can enable security for your wireless network. The router supports WEP up to 152-bits, as well as WPA and WPA2 (TKIP and AES algorithms) encryption.
We tested the wireless performance of the router with WPA (AES) encryption enabled, using a standard, second generation Centrino notebook (802.11g). Tests from one metre and 10 metres away from the router garnered similar transfer rates of 2.35MBps and 2.31MBps. Obviously, these rates will fluctuate depending on your environment, but compared to other routers we tested, these are solid results.
The WR541G also has a good feature-set. It has a 10/100 network switch and DHCP server which allow you to connect up to four PCs to the router (not counting wireless ones, of course), port forwarding, for giving your computers more fluent access to Internet services such as peer-to-peer networking and demilitarised zone (DMZ), for giving one PC on your network unfettered access to the Internet. A firewall is also built in to the router, and network traffic can be filtered by IP address, domain name or MAC address identification.
Testing with up to four PCs connected to the router, as well as a notebook connected via wireless networking, with the DHCP server enabled, didn't trip-up the TP-Link at all. It handles network file transfers and Internet distribution without a problem.
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