TP-Link TL-WA850RE Review: a Very Inexpensive Repeater

TP-Link TL-WA850RE repeater is one of the most accessible 300 Mb / s N models on the market. On paper, however, there is no shortage of arguments, with positioning indicators, a network socket, or the promise of easy installation.

The first thing to consider when choosing a WiFi extender is the range of wireless standards it supports: it is indeed essential that these coincide with those used by your home router, otherwise both devices risk being partially or totally incompatible.

TP-Link TL-WA850RE is upgraded to the 802.11b / g / n wireless standard, and therefore only transits on the 2.4 GHz frequency. This means that if you have a Dual Band router and buy this WiFi repeater, you cannot retransmit the 5 GHz band under any circumstances. It is therefore a single-band WiFi repeater, to be combined with a single-band modem/router.

The use of the single band also implies fairly low data transfer rates: we are on a total of 300 Mbps, which are more or less halved because half of the band is necessarily used only for signal reception. of the router. It is therefore certainly not a WiFi repeater suitable for handling high data traffic.

Presentation

Medium in size, the TP-Link TL-WA850RE has two antennas built into its body. A network socket is present but only provides 100 Mb / s (Fast Ethernet). This socket can be used to configure the device in certain cases or to connect any device.

TP-Link TL-WA850RE operates at the 802.11n standard at 300 Mb / s. Single-band, it only operates on the 2.4 GHz frequency. It is guaranteed for 2 years.

TL-WA850RE

Image Source: amazon.com

Ergonomics

TP-Link had a good idea to implement a 5-level indicator light on the front of the device. This makes it possible to optimize the placement of the repeater in relation to the router so that it is not too far from it. As a reminder, a Wi-Fi repeater must be positioned in the coverage area of ​​the router/box so that it can extend the signal range. Placed too close to the router it will not provide more comfort, placed too far away it will provide fairly low speeds.

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The configuration can be done in WPS or manually. WPS mode is the easiest to implement for people with a compatible router – some rare models are not, especially Free boxes. First, we activate WPS authentication on the router by pressing the dedicated button (more or less long pressure depending on the model) then we press the single button of the TP-Link repeater.

The wireless network is then automatically extended in a transparent manner. Thus, unlike some other models, there is no question of creating a secondary network but of extending the same network (only one visible SSID).

It is also possible to manually configure the repeater through its web interface. A rapid, step-by-step configuration system is offered. We choose the network to extend if we want to change the SSID or password and it’s configured.

Debits

Overall, the TP-Link TL-WA850RE repeater is slower than the Netgear WN3000RP. The maximum throughput observed on small files (10 MB) is quite close (84 Mb / s against 90 Mb / s at Netgear), but the difference is quite important when it comes to handling large files (300 MB). In this case, the TP-Link is at 57 Mb / s maximum, where the WN3000RP is at 87 Mb / s and the Netgear EX6150 is at 104 Mb / s.

This is also felt on average speeds, which run around 30 Mb / s regardless of the type of file used. The WN3000RP for its part offers averages between 38 and 57 Mb / s and the EX6150 climbs around 90 Mb / s.

Signal strength

At close range, the signal strength is excellent and remains rather good when one moves away and the disturbing elements accumulate (walls, a slab of the floor).

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Consumption (5/5)

Electricity consumption is very well controlled, with 2.6 watts recorded during data exchanges. At rest, consumption drops to 1.5 watts. No switch is present.

Functions

TP-Link TL-WA850RE is a “pure” WiFi repeater, which does not have the ability to function as an access point: that is, you can use it to extend the coverage of your home WiFi, but not for example to create a remote access point through a wired connection.

Thanks to the presence of a LAN port, as we will see, it can also function as a bridge, that is to say, share in the network the only wired devices that would not have completely wireless accessibility.

In its simplicity, however, this device has interesting features, accessible from the control panel: the network administrator has the possibility to view the devices connected to the repeater and to manage the privileges, blocking if necessary some of the connected devices.
There is also a minimal functionality of QoS, which is the automatic prioritization of audio/video data traffic.

We also draw your attention to the fact that it is possible to set the switching on and off times of the LEDs of the device, which allows you to have, for example, total darkness during the night without having to turn off the WiFi repeater.

There is the inevitable WPS function which offers an easy and fast connection with the home router, but we still recommend not to use it because it has security holes: better to opt for a manual connection from the control panel. .

Antennas

When it comes to the antennas of the TP-Link TL-WA850RE, we can’t complain about only finding antennas, as it is an entry-level WiFi repeater.
On the other hand, the antennas are internal, a factor that we consider to be a bit of a disadvantage because, unlike repeaters with external antennas, it is not possible to orient them in order to obtain the ideal coverage.

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Ports

The TP-Link TL-WA850RE can also operate in bridge mode when there is a LAN port. Granted, the possibilities are quite limited, with only one port available, but we have already said that this is not the right type of device for those who need to connect a large number of wired devices to the wireless network.

The present port is a Fast Ethernet, namely that the maximum speed supported is 100 Mbps: This is not the maximum speed at the moment (the new Gigabit Ethernet ports are coming up to 1 Gbps). There’s no USB port, but that’s certainly no surprise considering the price tag.

Our opinion on the TP-Link TL-WA850RE

The TP-Link TL-WA850RE is a single band WiFi repeater, so it is compatible with single-band modems/routers of WiFi standard 802.11b / g / n. The overall transfer speed is 300 Mbps. The control panel is simple and intuitive and allows you to manage access to the repeater by blocking certain devices. The two antennas are internal, a somewhat penalizing choice.

With an integrated Fast Ethernet port, it is also possible to use the repeater as a bridge, but only for a single wired device. Considering all these features, we consider the TP-Link TL-WA850RE to be an excellent choice for those who want a simple WiFi repeater, to be used in combination with a single band modem/router. Owners of more advanced routers will have to look to other compatible models.

Strong Points of TP-Link TL-WA850RE

  • WPS compatible.
  • Easy configuration.
  • Power consumption.
  • Visual positioning aid.
  • Transparent: does not create a secondary network.
  • Simple and intuitive control panel
  • Very low price

Weak Points of TP-Link TL-WA850RE

  • Flow rates.
  • Compatible only with single-band routers
  • Not suitable for large volumes of traffic

Conclusion

TP-Link TL-WA850RE is very simple to implement and quite practical, this model, unfortunately, does not shine by its speeds, lower than those of competing models placed on the same price segment.

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