300Mbps AV200 Wireless N Powerline Extender TL-WPA281

6/25/2012 5:29:22 PM

Justin Bantock extends the range of his wireless network using a Powerline adaptor from TP-Link

TP-Link is a company that has specialised in networking products since it was established in 1996 in Shenzhen, China. It entered the international market in 2005 and manufactures a wide variety of different networking hardware, including routers, switches, IP cameras, print servers and modems. The TL-WPA281 is one of TP-Link's latest wireless n Powerline extenders.

Description: 300Mbps AV200 Wireless N Powerline Extender TL-WPA281

The TL-WPA281 has a glossy white front with matt-black sides, which have vents in them to help keep the electronics inside cool. On the front are four LED status lights, which indicate, in order from top to bottom, power, Powerline connection, Ethernet port connection and wireless connection. The wireless connection light is also a button tht can be pressed for two seconds to enable Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), and can be pressed for five seconds to turn off the wireless.

On the underside of the device there is a pair button used to pair the Powerline connector to another, and a recessed reset button, which resets the device back to factory defaults.

As well as the TL-WPA281, the box also contains a quick installation guide, which is very handy to refer to, a small-sized resource CD, some marketing literature and a 1 m long network cable, which can be used in two ways. The first is to connect your PC to your existing Powerline network via the TL-WPA281. The second is to connect the TL-WPA281 directly to a switch or router, which will increase the range of your wireless network. I tried it both ways and found it incredibly simple to set up and operate; simply plug it in and connect to the available network.

Description: TL-WPA281

To configure the TL-WPA281 fully, you need to use the TP-Link software, ( which comes on a CD ROM and is also downloadable from the TP-Link website. The software itself is fairly easy to use and has a help window on the right-hand side of every option, explaining how to configure it and what the information means.

The manual for the TL-WPA281 says to always plug the Powerline connectors directly into a wall socket. I tried using the product with it plugged directly into a wall socket and into an extension lead, and I didn't experience any problems with connection speed or connectivity.

One word of warning is that you'll need another Powerline adaptor in order to use the TL-WPA281 properly. This review only covers the TL-WPA281, but it can be bought in a kit with a TL-PA211 Powerline adaptor included if you don't already have one. Since I didn't have another TP-Link Powerline adaptor for testing purposes, I used a Solwise PL-200AV Powerline adaptor, in conjunction with my Dell Studio 17 laptop.

The only problems that I had were that the various usernames and passwords used to configure the TL-WPA281 are located on the back, which means you have to unplug the device to find out the information. Some of the details are listed in the user manual, which is useful, but it's best to write the details down before you plug it in.

Overall, the TL-WPA281 is a good piece of hardware, which can extend the range of your wireless network by utilising the power cabling in your house. Connection speed and stability were both good, with the only downside being that the password and other details are on the back of the device - a problem that can easily be rectified.







Required spec

Windows 2000 or later / Mac / Linux

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