Customer Review

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great product but tricky setup, 8 Sept. 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)
My brother suggested these extenders as a way to get a strong wifi signal throughout the house and said they were the best gadgets he'd bought in a while. I have to agree that they are an excellent product and now I have full strength wifi upstairs whereas before the concrete walls dampened the signal. However, even though I'm quite techno savvy I found the setup a little tricky so hopefully this will help other buyers.

1. Initially I just plugged in the 211 adapter into a power strip extension lead and the ethernet cable from the router to 211. All of the power sockets in the front room where my cable broadband is are on the skirting boards and that is a great disadvantage with this design as the adapters don't fit esp with an ethernet cable stuck in the bottom so I had no choice to use a power strip.

2.Plugged the 281 wireless adapter in upstairs and pressed the pairing buttons. Remember it's 1 sec on the 281 and 3-8 secs on the 211.

3. To configure the 281 settings you can either use the supplied mini cd or plug in an ethernet cable to the 281 and a Win based laptop then type in the default IP address into your web browser. However, TP-Link states the default IP address is 192.168.1.1 but many routers use this as their default address as well. I found that I couldn't enter the settings utility using this address so had to use the cd. Once into the settings I could see the default address was actually 192.168.1.81!!! Even though it's a bit of a pain I decided to assign static IP addresses to all my devices. I changed the 281's SSID to the same as the wireless router's and set a password. Also changed the powerline network name from the default HomeAV network. After rebooting the 281 to save the settings the pairing was lost so you have to re-pair again.

4. When I used the same SSID as my router's I found that when roaming the wifi strength was variable as my device would sometimes stay connected to the downstairs router and not automatically connect to the strongest signal upstairs. It's easier to give the 281 a different SSID and manually connect when roaming. If your device remembers network passwords such as the iPad then it might switch to the strongest signal.

Initially all was fine for the first day but then I found that the adapters kept unpairing and the Powerline LED was unlit. Even if paired I found that whilst I could connect to the strong wifi network from the 281 I couldn't access the internet and all the webpages timed out. Even trying with a wired connection directly to the 281 I couldn't access the internet. Then I noticed that the assigned IP address on my iPad or laptop was a strange address not associated with the range I had set in my router's settings. In the end I reset the 281 to factory default settings, took the 211 off the extension lead and downloaded the Powerline Utility for the 211 to reset it. I changed the 211's network name to match the one set in the 281's settings. Paired the adapters again and even though the 211 won't fit directly into the power socket it seems ok using a 3 way block socket adaptor.

All seems great now with full strength wifi upstairs and quick internet access.

I see that other reviewers have used the 281 successfully on a powerstrip extension lead but I think you must use the cheapest ones you can get. They should definitely not be surge protected, have any red lights on or other devices plugged in otherwise the 211 will be filtered and lose the pairing with other adapters.

As you can see my setup looked really complicated even for someone with a lot of IT/electronic knowledge. Just plug n play is fine for a wired setup or an unsecured wireless setup but a secure network needs some tinkering!
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Location: UK

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