Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Whole-House WiFi with TP-Link

Review: TP-LINK RE200 AC750 Universal Wi-Fi Repeater

We are happy to live in a split-level house, built into the side of a hill, widely separated between the active daytime spaces of the living area and the quiet nighttime side downhill from it.

Mostly happy. Except that when we changed from a direct-cable Ethernet modem to a WiFi modem so we could run multiple devices, we discovered that the distance and insulation between the daytime and nighttime sections of the house also made WiFi connection problematic.

That's why I was excited to read in a Google+ post about a problem getting WiFi signals in the user's backyard, for which the solution was an inexpensive repeater that plugged into a wall socket. I checked it out on Amazon, and took a chance that the device was as easy to install as the G+ poster had claimed, and that it was as universal as the product description cited. For less than $50, it wasn't too terrifying a gamble.

The TP-Link device arrived a few days later (shipped free via Amazon Prime), tightly packaged in an elegant box with a slide-on lid. I knew as soon as I opened the box that it would be all I had paid forthe box was carefully engineered to exactly accommodate its contents. The inside lid was a folded card that enclosed the installation instructions.

The second clue that this device would be simple to install was the instruction set: a folded broadsheet poster, liberally illustrated. I followed the 9-step installation with the repeater plugged into the wall close to the modem, then moved the device to a wall socket in the enclosed breezeway between the two sections of the house. 

Voila! Less than ten minutes' work gave me a solid WiFi connection for my Kindle, even in the furthest end of the house, diagonally opposite from the corner where the Wifi modem sits. Guests using the porch room under the oak tree at the back of the house can connect their WiFi devices and post their cycling and guest experiences directly to WarmShowers. They won't need to hunt all around the building to find a place with enough bars to work!

Best of all, the Chromebook will now connect to the Chromecast in the living room without needing to be perched on a sideboard in the corner in order to get the strongest WiFi connection. I can sit comfortably at the dining room table and listen to music from Amazon Prime while I write.

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