This review was originally published in March 2014 and then was updated April 2015 with the benefit of a years extra use.
The TP-Link TL-WR710N Wireless router is a compact router designed for a range of connectivity additions and uses from company TP-Link. It is designed to support 5 modes, router, client, repeater, access point and WISP and has two RJ45 ethernet ports and a USB port. It is aimed at those with some tech savvy and those who are often mobile.
I used it for several months as part of my mobile office and it is currently being used permanently at my parents house as a wireless extender.
The TL-WR710N is a small router that looks almost like a wall wart USB charger. It has a number of modes that it can be run in depending on what you want to use it for. These modes can be switched between by connecting the router to your PC with an ethernet cable and going to the correct IP address (this will change depending on your settings). The mode you set it to is persistent and will stay until and unless you change it even when you unplug.
Wireless Router mode
Plug an ethernet cable that has a connection to the internet into the hub and it will create a wi-fi hotspot. Good for if you have an ethernet port but no wi-fi, such as in a hotel room.
Connects to another wifi network and lets you use the Ethernet LAN port to give wired access to items that do not have wi-fi. Good to get a system online where you cannot run a cable and the system has no built in wi-fi – for example a console.
This takes a wi-fi signal and re-broadcasts it extending your network and making it cover a wider area. Good if you have a large area or thick walls to cover.
Access point mode takes an internet connection and adds wifi to it. This is slightly different from router mode as it needs a preexisting router that handles addressing to function.
WISP Client Router Mode
This is technically what is called a wireless WAN port and lets you hook up the router to some forms of mobile data hardware. Unless you know about this already it is something that you are very very unlikely to want to use.
Finally the router has a USB port. This port can be used as a charging port putting out around 1 amp which makes it fine for phones but borderline for larger tablets such as the iPad. It can also be used to ‘mount’ a USB thumb drive making it accessible to computers and phones on the local network.
Size: 12.2 x 11.2 x 7.4 cm
Colour: white and grey
Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n (2.4) capable
Security: 64/128/152-bit WEP, WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK
Features and Accessibility
Design & Visual Accessibility
Physically the device is exactly what you would expect from the photographs. A small rectangular box with a plug grafted on to the side and three ports on the bottom. The ports are somewhat stiff initially, especially the USB, but while this makes it potentially more difficult to plug it does have the advantage that it is less likely cables will drop out. Plugging in cables when the router is plugged into the wall is difficult, in particular the USB as it is difficult to know which way round to try to plug it. The reset button is also in the base and recessed, requiring a paperclip or similar to press.
There is a single large LED on the back of the router that displays a steady green when everything is connected and working and either green or orange flashes to communicate specific problems.
Audio & Accessibility
The TL-WR710N has no speakers or microphone and no audio component. It is completely accessible with or without sound. It also makes no sound on use.
Input and Touch
The device is entirely software controlled with the exception of the recessed reset button. The reset button should very rarely need to be pressed.
Ease of Use
As with most hubs this device is potentially complicated to set up. It comes set to wireless router mode so if that is your use case it should be straight forward to use. If you want to use one of the other modes or switch between the modes it gets more complicated. In essence you have to connect the hub to your PC either directly or via a network then log into it and adjust its settings. The hub includes wizards to create basic setups for each of the modes and these are enough for most needs and as simple as they could reasonably be.
There was quick start software included with the hub but I was unable to make it run. I’m not sure if that was because I was running Windows 8.1 or something else about my setup.
Included In The Box
- Pocket Router
- Ethernet Cable
- Resource CD
- Quick Installation Guide
The TP-Link TL-WR710N is designed to be a compact addition to any regular tech travellers arsenal and it works well at this giving you a wi-fi network wherever you need it and being usable as a USB charger in a package not much larger than most wall chargers. If you have a need to extend your home wi-fi network or get wired access to difficult areas it also works well, although its small size works against it means it has a relatively small aerial and therefore a smaller than ideal coverage. In short this is an ideal hub if you travel, even occasionally and want an extra extender for the home and it is as simple as it could reasonably be.
12 Month Update
A year after I wrote the review I would still think of the router as a good addition to a travellers bag or a good shorter range network extender. I’m not using it personally simply because I’ve gone down the route of having a mifi instead which means I don’t need what it offers. It has found a second life being used to extend the wifi network in my parents house and is working perfectly there. Recommended.
The TP-Link WR710N was released in June 2012.