Take a casual glance and you might think that this was an Apple Airport Express with slightly sharper edges.
It was a good product all things considered, but it runs on the 802.11n standard, with a wireless data rate of 54 Mbps, whereas this TP-LINK N150 offers IEEE 802.11b/g/n, IEEE 802.3/3u protocols, and wireless data rates up to 150Mbps, along with 3G/4G access.
In simple terms, the TP-LINK offers throughput equal to or up to almost three times faster than the Apple product and and offers more bang for the buck, as they say.
The TP-LINK TL-MR3020 3G/4G Wireless N150 Portable Router is one of a number of products bearing the N150 designation, but this one offers the ability to share a 3G/4G mobile connection, wherever 3G/4G coverage is available.
It also serves as a WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider) client router, which allows connection to designated 'hot spots' using a wireless connection.
One example would be the wireless connections found in Starbucks and other coffee houses.
This is a well-designed and solid little device, and it's easy to set up if you follow the simple instructions, which are thorough yet easy to follow.
Following the PC directions (and the ones for the Mac are similar), I noted the default SSID and default password that were noted on the N150, then plugged the Ethernet cable into my network port.
The N150 was plugged into the power outlet in the wall, then looked for the network name on my computer and entered the password. It was that simple, and I had network access.
This TP-LINK Wireless N150 is true plug-and-play in the AP (access point) mode, and that's probably just where I'll leave it for general use.
Checked it later with my MacBook Pro, my Kindle Fire HD and even with my Samsung Galaxy S III, and all worked just fine.
For those wishing to get more out of this mini-router, it offers a variety of configurations. Here's a summary of how you can use it:
◆ AP Mode (Default)
This is the default plug and play Access Point mode, where the N150 is connected to your wired network and transforms the wired Internet access into wireless so that multiple devices can share the Internet. This default setting is good in a hotel, an office, and those places where only wired network is available. It's good for small business meetings where a temporary wireless network is needed.
◆ Client Mode:
The N150 is connected to another device via the Ethernet, and acts as an adapter to send and receive the wireless signal from your wireless network. For those wanting access to a smart TV, media player, or game console with an Ethernet port, you can use the it to make your devices Wi-Fi enabled, giving them access to your wireless network.
◆ Repeater Mode:
The N150 copies and reinforces the existing wireless signal to extend the coverage of the signal and the SSID & password don't change. Put it in a good mid-point and this mode can be useful in a large house, office, warehouse or other work spaces where the existing signal is weak.
◆ Bridge Mode:
The N150 borrows existing wireless Internet and broadcasts it using a separate network name (SSID) and password. This application can create two individual networks for two groups of users sharing one Internet connection. Think of it as a way that you can provide Wi-Fi access to your guests or customers without revealing the password of your existing network.
◆ Router Mode:
The N150 is connected to a DSL or cable modem and works as a regular wireless router. If your ISP offers one connection and you have no built-in router, this will allow for connection to your broadband modem and becomes a wireless router for your network.
This TP-LINK TL-MR3020 3G/4G Wireless N150 Portable Router is a good product with a powerful range of options, though those who are unfamiliar with wireless networks might be advised to stick with the default AP mode.
It provides an excellent solution for those who need more Wi-Fi options or better access to the 'Net while traveling or in client locations.
If you stick with the AP mode as noted above for general use, you'll find it to be reliable and efficient, and for a product of this type, the price is quite reasonable.
It's deceptively small, yet it does what's expected quite well.