Home broadband is one of those things that we mostly forget about. We sign up, install the provider’s equipment, and that’s it right? Well there are two things missing here. First, the generic vanilla kit that broadband providers send out to us consumers is generally just average. They want to keep costs down. Second, even decent routers wear out over time, so it pays to keep track of your Internet connection to monitor for degradation. If you do notice any speed or reliability issues, maybe it’s time to upgrade?
One product which may suit an upgrade is this TP-Link AC 2600 (or the Archer VR2600, not sure why two names). This is a full router modem, so it’s just one cable to plug in, and it comes with just about as many bells and whistles as you might hope for with a home router. Check out the video below for a run through of some of the features.
The device comes in a big box! That’s the first clue that this is not a small modem router. The base unit is about the size of a dinner plate (but rectangle obviously, right?) and it contains a bunch of ports and four antenni (is that a word?) to attach. You get four high speed Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 3 ports and an ADSL port for the phone line. You can also use one of the USB ports as a 4G failover port, which will kick in automatically if your main home broadband falls over at some point.
The set up guide is useful enough to get you going, and installation is actually a breeze. Just connect the device to a computer with the Ethernet cable, then browse to tplinkmodem.net with your browser and you’ll be faced with a very straightforward installation routine. Enter in the details from your broadband provider (username and password are the key ones), click the connect button on-screen and you’re good to go.
It’s definitely hard to test out performance on this kind of equipment, since there are so many variables to play with. Easy if you’ve got a professional lab, but we’re limited to our conventional home set up. So with our very unscientific tests which you can see in the video above, we came to the conclusion that this unit definitely provides a significant speed upgrade over the vanilla modem configuration we had already. Even on similar 2.5Ghz bandwidths.
We didn’t get anywhere near the rated speeds, but that’s to be expected, but what we have noticed over time is a consistent speed improvement and less buffering when using things like smart TV boxes. The range of the WiFi signal has also improved throughout the premises, which is a nice bonus. Of course the reliability of the box is something we cannot test in this short term run, but we’ll keep track of it and report back if we notice problems longer term.
We also didn’t have time to test out the 3G/4G failover feature, but from the looks of the control panel, and the options in the free smartphone app, called TP-Link Tether, it looks to be pretty easy to set up. Insert the dongle, set up the cellular provider, switch on the automatic failover and it’s set. If anything goes down with your main broadband, the 4G will switch in automatically to take over. Nice feature.
The TP-Link AC 2600 modem router is a nice looking and robustly built product which features a bunch of technology smarts, which improve home networking and broadband in general. The set up is super easy, and managing the rig with the aid of the Tether smartphone app is also quick and painless. We particular like the fact that you can instantly set up a Guest account using the smartphone, to give your visitors access without having to go through all the hassle of remembering passwords etc. All in all this is a definite product to consider if you are thinking of upgrading your home broadband network in the near future.
Price: £196.98 with 3 year warranty
* 4 x 4 stream for the Wi-Fi speeds – 800 Mbps on 2.4 GHz + 1733 Mbps on 5 GHz, four dual band antennas and Beamforming provide maximum omni-directional wireless coverage
* MU-MIMO technology – operates up to 3x faster by running MU-MIMO to serve multiple devices at once instead of one at a time
* Versatile connectivity – fully compatible with VDSL2/ADSL2+, fibre/cable EWAN and 3G/4G dongle connections
* 1.4 GHz Dual-core processor – ensures no interruption while processing multiple wired or wireless tasks simultaneously
* Easy interactivity – TP-LINK Tether App and web UI provide an easy way to access and manage the modem router on your smart phone as well as PC, 3 years warranty
Hmmmm… tempting, but any product with 240+ reviews and 15% of them are 1 star makes me more than wary. Clearly there are issues that the manufacturer isn’t addressing.