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Sunday, September 17, 2017
TP-Link Router offers plentiful features and good range
If your home
is plagued by Wi-Fi dropouts and other router issues, you may want to think
about an upgrade, perhaps to one that offers multiple bands to up your choices
and, with luck, performance.
TP-Link's AC5400 Wireless Tri-Band MU-MIMO, also known as the Archer C5400
Gigabit Router. This sucker offers a total of six distinct networks, kind of: 1
x 2.4 GHz, and 2 x 5 GHz, with all three options available for both regular use
or as specially noted "Guest" networks, so you won't get in trouble
for some overnight interloper's porn downloads. Or whatever your issue may be.
offering a guest network means your visitors can have Wi-Fi without having to
know your Wi-Fi password - and in this case you can also choose whether to
allow guests to see each other and/or whether to allow them access to your
local network (you can let them use the internet but not get at your files).
The issue in
my house has traditionally been more "coverage" than
"capacity" but the Archer C5400 - thanks to the abovementioned pair
(or is it four?) of five gig offerings - has that handled, too. Naturally, it
depends on where the router is located in your home, but you can't blame the
router if you stick it someplace where the sun don't shine - or in some other
location where its Wi-Fi signals aren't allowed to roam freely and happily.
Time was when
you had to live with a single band router, then dual band, so this move to
triple bands is a logical development (and quad band routers are available as
well). Where will it all end?
using a TP-Link
routerfor a while now and have been very happy with its performance (once
I figured out that placement issue…). One of the reasons is that it, and this
newer model, was designed mostly for home applications where multiple people or
devices are slugging it out for bandwidth - whether it's dueling iPads, Rokus,
Smart TV's or whatever - and as such they really seem to have a handle on it.
To test the
router properly, I loaned it to my son, who has also had router complaints
traditionally. And even he liked it, though he didn't care a whit for some of
the extra features the C5400 offers. He praised its range, though, rating it as
excellent - getting Wi-Fi service right to the back of his yard (he was trying
to escape responsibility at the time by hiding out). He did mention occasional
disconnects with his smart TV, however, though he also admitted it wasn't only
the Archer that suffered from this anomaly.
It makes me
wonder how much of the issues we experienced are because of the router and how
much are because of the multitude of devices lapping up the signal. I have no
idea, but I do know that some of my devices decide to forget their networking
when I shut them down, taking some time to log back in when I fire them up. Again,
I have no idea if that's the router or the device, but since other devices
don't have this issue I have a feeling the question answers itself.
The Archer is
quite large physically, looking kind of like a model of a James Bond villain's
lair. The eight antennae stick up and make it somewhat hard to place,
too, if space is at a premium.
designation means the router can, according to the company's website, "achieve
4X efficiency by communicating with up to four devices at once." The
"Smart Connect" feature means the thing allows each device to access
the best band available, automatically, while the abundance of external antennas
help to maximize coverage. TP-Link also says the router works with Alexa for
voice control and IFTTT for smart home customization, though we didn't try
that. We also didn't try its USB disk and printer sharing, Quality of Service
(QoS), NAT forwarding with "DMZ" support (for folks living in harm's
way on the Korean peninsula?), UPnP, etc., but the features are there if you
want them and who can complain about being offered lots of features?
features include VPN Server (OpenVPN or PPTP), Advanced Routing, etc.
the router is very easy. As with the previous one I tried, this one uses a
nice, guided wizard-like setup routine. You also can partake of a handy and
informative status page in both the Basic and Advanced views in your browser.
The Advanced view includes details on all six wireless networks, LAN and WAN
settings, USB devices, CPU load, and info on all connected clients (wired and
possible security hole in the setup: it first prompts you to create a new admin
user, and if you don't it leaves it at its default, which isn't the most secure
idea - though on the other hand it could come in handy if you forget the
control easy to implement if you want to restrict the ankle biters from stuff
you don't want them accessing, or merely to limit their access to the internet
in general. All you have to do is select
a device from the list, then draw a box around "Internet Access Time". The
feature seems to be limited to restricting when
a device can use the Internet - unless you use it in Advanced mode, in which
case it also allows filtering by keyword, though our quick test of this didn’t
show any evidence of filtering.
My son said
this could be because so much of the Internet uses SSL encryption now, but all
I heard when he explained it to me was gibberish, kind of like when Yondu talked
to the Broker in "Guardians of the Galaxy".
The fruit of
my loins (hey, isn't that anti-LGBTQWERTY or whatever they're calling
themselves these days?) also noticed that his Bluetooth performance seemed to
be a tad affected once or twice when the device in question was physically near
the router - but it doesn't seem to be an issue normally. What could be an
issue is the fact that one of the 5G networks seems to have died after less
than a week of use at his place. Naturally, I blame him. The rest of the networks
have been working fine, though.
could my son access his Wi-Fi from the back end of his yard, he also streamed
video there smoothly - a distance of over 100 feet. He was impressed enough to
note that his usual "medium-end" router craps out at half that
A nice touch
is the ability to turn on and off the device’s LEDs easily (you do it at the
top of the admin page in your browser). This could be handy if the router's
installed in a location such as a home theatre, where the lights could be
TP-Link's Archer AC5400 router does a nice job in and around the connected home.
Not only is it a powerful entertainment hub, supporting multiple simultaneous
HD video streams, online gaming, music streaming, or whatever, it's just a good
router in general (well, there was that one network crapout proving that
Murphy's Law has yet to be repealed).
with excellent range and you have a router that, while it demands a premium
price of $299 USD, delivers the performance to back it up.
Ed.Please help Candidate Roy Moore defeat Mitch McConnell’s GOPe yes-man
Luther Strange in the Alabama run-off election on September 26th.Roy Moore is a strongly religious, pro-life
conservative. Help him defeat Mitch McConnell’s choice by donating to Moore at
this link. https://www.roymoore.org/Support-Judge-Moore/