This archer scores a bullseye.
If you had to decide which bit of tech in your house is THE most important, would you think of your WiFi router? Many probably wouldn't, but a decent router is the key to getting all those other gadgets connected to the internet and doing what they're intended to do. We've been sent another from our chums at TP-Link; a router that is both easy to use and easy on the eyes. We review the Archer VR600 WiFi Router.
Recently we've reviewed a few a very large, very over-powered WiFi routers (not to mention some very angular and sharp-edged ones from Netgear), so it was actually refreshing to get our hands of the Archer VR600. This thing isn't very big, being only 20cm wide, and moulded in curvy black plastic with silver highlights. The three removable antenna on the back aren't huge either, so the whole package won't be taking up much space – especially considering that it can be wall mounted.
In terms of ports the VR600 features four LAN and two USB (both of which are the standard 2.0), and TP-Link are keen to point out that it is fully compatible with mobile internet dongles. Considering the small size and light weight, we could imagine it being used quite successfully remotely with a dongle, so chalk that up as a win. The DSL-in port is also VDSL, so if you have super-fast broadband the VR600 can accommodate that. Oh, if you're a BT Infinity customer, you need that, by the way.
The specs of the VR600 are pretty average, and nothing about the two bands (a 2.4GHz and a 5GHz) surprised us. The 2.4 will deliver speeds of up to 300mbps, while the 5 can push that up to 1300mbps, making it your go-to choice for streaming to 4K TVs and most game consoles. However, what we weren't expecting on a device of this size and price was Beamforming.
On the 5GHz network Beamforming can be be used to accurately target individual devices to ensure they get a concentrated stream of data, while also improving the range of the WiFi. We set ours up to focus on the Roku player connected to the living room TV. It resulted in quick loading times of shows on Netflix, and there was never any lag, especially when the show first starts. We also tested it on a phone and started to move around the house while watching a YouTube video. With Beamforming on the Archer VR600 were we able to move further away (all the way down the street, in fact) without losing signal or causing loading lag. We're pretty sure that it increased the WiFi range by up to 50%, so if you have a desktop or games console up in the farthest corner of you house, and suffer from WiFi dead-spots, this would work great for you.
The rest of the time VR600 just worked, and worked very well. Set up was easy (as it should be) thanks to the TP-Link Tether app for iOS and Android. It's a nice and clean app that aids both in the set up and general maintenance of the router. So this is very simple to use and master, while also looking good and performing great. And hey, ain't nobody complaining about that price, yo.