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An entry-level router is going to be discussed in this review. It is entry-level within the SOHO sector even. After all, there are quite a lot of users who don’t have much money to spend on their home network or who just don’t want to pay for expensive routers’ extra features they won’t use anyway. The TL-WR542G router from TP-Link is targeted at such user audiences. The company’s name doesn’t tell much although they are currently working to improve this. After ten years of its activities, TP-Link claims to have up to 50% of the network equipment market of China. It is also China’s largest network equipment maker catering for the SOHO segment. This is a noble mission and hopefully TP-Link will gain proper standing on the world market as well. The quality of products should speak for the company, though. So, let’s hear what the TL-WR542G has got to tell us.

Again, the TL-WR542G is an entry-level SOHO router. Priced at about $60, it provides only basic functionality necessary to deploy a small local network with a port for a bigger network, e.g. the Internet. It would be wrong to say this router lacks any additional features, however. Its specification mentions an Extended Range feature that allows working with the router’s wireless access point from a bigger distance than with ordinary 802.11g devices.

In this review we’ll see if the TL-WR542G is worth the money you are asked for it (even though it is not a big sum) and if it can indeed be used to deploy a small local network.

Specification and Accessories

TP-Link offers three similar models: TL-541G, TL-WR542G and TL-WR543G. They are in fact one and the same router but with minor differences. Taking the first model as the basic one, the second model is the first one plus a removable antenna and a scheduled access feature, and the third model is the second model plus WDS support. So, the TL-542G is a medium model in the family. Moreover, each model comes in multiple versions that differ in the optimizations in their electronics. Ours is a version 4.1 device. Here is its brief specification:

Parameter

Characteristics

Wireless standard

IEEE 802.11b/g

Encoding standard

WEP, WPA, WPA2

Antenna

External dipole antenna
Internal IF (Inverted – F) antenna

Signal modulation

BPSK, QPSK, CCK and OFDM
(BPSK/QPSK/16-QAM/ 64-QAM)

Operating frequency

2.4 - 2.4835 GHz

Nominal data transfer rate

-802.11g: 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54Mbps
-802.11b: 1, 2, 5.5, 11Mbps

Transmit power

~17dBm (at normal temp. range)

Sensitivity

-74 ~ -75dBm@54Mbps
-87 ~ -88dBm@11Mbps
-95 ~ -97dBm@1Mbps
(at normal temp. range)

Operating channels

11 for North America, 14 for Japan,
13 for Europe (ETSI),
3 (non-overlapping)

WAN

1 RJ-45 (10/100 BaseT) Fast Ethernet
10/100 Mb/s port with auto crossover

LAN

4 RJ-45 (10/100 BaseT) Fast Ethernet
10/100 Mb/s ports with auto crossover

Other interfaces

none

Power

External power supply

Dimensions

174 x 111 x 30 mm

Additional features

Extended Range

The accessories are scanty, as you might have guessed. The box contains:

  • Router
  • External dipolar antenna
  • CD with electronic user manual
  • Brief user manual
  • TP-Link ads booklet
  • Power adapter (9V, 890mA)
 
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