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Customer Review

56 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars CAUTION!! It took me 14 hrs to install. Instructions confusing to layman., 1 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: TP-LINK TL-WPA281KIT AV200 With 1 LAN port 300M Wireless N Powerline Extender Starter Kit (Accessory)
I wanted to extend the existing limited wifi coverage in our Victorian house. I'd carefully checked the Amazon Customer comments and reviews before ordering the TP-link TL-WPA281KIT(UK). It had 4.5 stars on Amazon, which gave me a measure of confidence. It seemed possible to set this up with my moderate technical knowledge and a free afternoon. How wrong I was!!!
I've used computers for 20 years but this has me beat. "Set up in seconds?" Not exactly. After nearly 10 hours I was exhausted, and pretty fed up.
The printed instructions with the "TP Link TL-WPA281KIT AV200 Powerline Extender with Wireless N Access Point Starter Kit" are far too brief, and contradict the CD instructions in places (use CD pairing instructions : its 3-8 secs for the 211 and 1 sec for the 281!). The CD instructions are also confusing and overlong. In contrast, the ethernet cables are way too short!
Initially my CD-web connection kept breaking down, so that it could not detect the 281. Their website kept irritatingly and inexplicably "scrolling up". As a result of the above discontinuity, the IP addresses repeatedly changed - fifteen different ones so far for the 281. Later I realised this was because I hadn't switched off the wireless internet on my laptop.
Once connected by cable to the 281 one must check each section of the side menu to configure the powersharing, wireless, WPN security options and so on. It is complicated, and unless this is your chosen career, like me you will need a lot of time and dogged persistence. I managed to set up a second wireless network and did achieve a strong signal - but no internet access. My iphone didn't like it ("no internet service"), my Windows 7 laptop couldnt deal with it. Then after rebooting, the 211 and 281 lost contact with one another. When I re-established contact I could no longer connect to the internet through the ethernet cable.
After 7 hrs, I start over again and realise that I have omitted to install the PA211 from the CD. I had just gone for the PA281 on the top row first. This requires installing WinPcap programme, then the Powerline Utility for the PA211. This is not mentioned in the text! Obviously the PA281 will not work without the powerline in place first - of course. However, following the instructions again isn't straightforward. The PA211 isn't recognised by my Win 7 laptop despite repeatedly reinstalling the Powerline Utility. What now? I can go no further.
I conclude that the other reviewers on this page are extremely tolerant and technically gifted people, but they cannot be representative of the general public I know. My feeling is that for most of us, installing this product is simply beyond us!
So, I am close to giving up. The TP link website is hard to access - google chrome has a similar problem with IP addresses. On a different PC I access the website but the TP-link website doesnt include installation in its FAQs. There are no relevant threads for this product on the TP link forum. After 10 hours of fruitless effort, I've emailed TP link support for advice. I'll try to update this piece if there is progress, but I wonder if the product design is defective (the installation guidance gives me little confidence)and am close to requesting a refund of my money. Sorry if this sounds a little negative.
Much better. It took me a further 4 hours of persistent tinkering but I now have both the 211 and 281 paired, with a strong radio signal from the 281 covering the required areas. Initially this signal had no internet access, but this was finally achieved with great celebration!! So far the second (281) wifi network is open and unsecured and I intend to work on this.
What I've learned:
0. Write down your existing routers IP address, IP subnet mask, user name and password. Copy from the back of the 211 / 281 the powerline extender password and PIN etc for later.
1. Pair the 281 and 211. This can be done in adjacent wall sockets to save running up and down stairs. You press the 211 pairing button for 3-8 secs, and then the 281 button for 1 second (within a 2 minute time frame). After a minute or two, the top two lights on both the 281 and 211 should actively light up and remain steady and then you know they are connected.
2. Next, for configuring the 281, you MUST switch off your laptop's wireless internet : this caused me massive delays above. Plug the laptop directly to the 281 with the ethernet cable. You should have the paired 211 plugged into your router.
3. Insert the mini-cd and select the WPA281 from the illustrated options (its on the top row). Using the dropdown menu, you can download the full instructions guide here (not great but more complete than the printed ones + useful). I still havent configured the PA211 but my network works anyway.
4. To configure the 281, use the drop-down to select management options. A window appears to scan for the hardware.
5. Press scan and your 281 should show up as TL-WPA281. Make a note of the details: IP address (if you lose connection this will change - I went through over 20 in all),MAC address, etc.
6. Then press Connect. You will need the TP-link user name (admin)and password (admin). A new window will open with all your configuration options. At first this looks complicated. Using the sidebar descriptions and the CD instructions, its possible for a layman to understand some of it. I found it simpler to start with an unsecured network by disabling WPS security. I set the wireless to radio signal to match my existing wireless router (11g) and this seemed to work. Give your new wireless network a name of your choice, and if you wish a password of your choice. Once you are happy with the saved changes, reboot. After rebooting you will need to re-pair the 211 and 281 as above.
8. I had to tinker with my laptop to include the 281 wifi network in my home network. Initially it had a good powerful radio signal but no internet. I was at a loss. After some time the internet access appeared!
So, in addition to the original wifi network downstairs, we now have a second wifi network transmitted from upstairs. It works with laptop, iphone, ipad and PS3. Job done. I next have to configure some network security and passwords.
Good luck. I recommend that you consider very carefully before ordering this product, as it is not simple. It took me most of two working days. But I'm glad I got there in the end. I've awarded three stars only - as there is massive room for improvement in the instructions. On day 2 I sought emailed support from TP-link and they emailed back in clear English (I think from China). The advice didnt directly address my query about configuring the PA211 - they sent me the pairing instructions again. I had set it up myself before the next reply.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Jan 2013 14:37:04 GMT
Fully agree with comments above i plugged both units in and android phone and samsung tablet both worked for several days then the phone kept searching for Ip address and the Samsung after another day keeps searching the telling me poor signal. I Spent the next weekend configuring /resetting / getting limited succsees on mobile but no signal recognised on Laptop by ethernet or wifi Same with the Samsung Tablet. Also Ipad will not connect to the signal. I am now at the point of giving up and reverting to my old Wireless solution which limits use to one end of Apartment.

Posted on 9 Feb 2013 16:14:43 GMT
S. Glass says:
Thank you so much A.Dixon! Like you I followed the manual instructions to no avail. Then followed your instructions and within 5 minutes the wifi dead zone in my house (encompassing 3 rooms) was no more. TP-Link should be paying you handsomely for your services because yu have increased the value of their product.

Posted on 16 Feb 2013 09:20:35 GMT
It is unbelievable how complicated this is!!! I am trying to get this stupid thing to work and it just wont. I have a connection, i see the SSID but i do not have internet (neither wireless nor cable).

Posted on 18 Aug 2013 10:12:57 BDT
Great instructions. Wish I'd had these before I started set up as TP's are rubbish. I spent 3 days and finally spoke to tech support when the ethernet light didn't work on the 281. Told to contact Amazon to get a replacement. Amazon were great and gave me a refund because they have the 281 under review because of all the problems

Posted on 16 May 2014 06:26:10 BDT
C. Clarke says:
Great review. I'm just wondering if you successfully added the security passwords, and how you went about doing it?

In reply to an earlier post on 16 May 2014 17:24:16 BDT
A. Dixon says:
Now you're asking - it was more than a year ago! I did add security later on. It was relatively easy after the setup ordeal. I thing we used WPA 2. We ended up with 2 wireless networks, as the house is Victorian over 3 floors, each with a different sign in name. But to
keep things simple we used the password for both. Choosing passwords that the whole family would remember was the hardest bit. It works fine now.

Posted on 3 Aug 2014 21:49:10 BDT
F. Aspinall says:
Concur with the above, product seems ok but I had two days of hassle to set up. Once I managed to get it up and running (on my own) I have had two drops over two weeks. Had to switch on and off at the socket to reset. You are on your own when it comes to support. TP link will send you countless emails saying refer to this web link, or refer to that web link without addressing any of the issues at hand.
I run a virginmedia super hub 2 which I was 'given' to me free of charge. Worst deal I ever struck. Before that I had two 'g' netgear routers configured to master and slave and not one drop out in over two years. Wish I'd stuck with the original set up.
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