Not one to pass over.
Another powerline kit today, and another dip of the toe back into the product range of TP-Link. We’re fans of the ‘TP’ here at The Test Pit, and not just because this article was uploaded to the internet via one of their excellent routers (or because we’re also a TP as well). Going from strength to strength over past few years, they’ve put out an impressively diverse range of networking gadgets, which this comfortably falls into.
First up, we need to be clear what we’re reviewing here. TP-Link has a big choice of Powerline kits up for grabs, and they all look pretty much the same. This particular article is covering the evocatively named TL-WPA8630P kit, comprising of a base unit (into which you plug your internet-connected router), and a single receiver (which you plug into a socket near to where you want to extend your WiFi into).
For the uninitiated, Powerline kits essentially use your house’s existing electrical circuit as a wired network, sending data along the copper wires within your walls and floors to boost your router’s range. Whereas many Powerline kits merely act as a wired extender, requiring you to plug an Ethernet cable into the ‘exit’ device, the AV1200 Passthrough Powerline Wi-Fi TL-WPA8630P Kit (just rolls off the tongue, eh?) also projects another localised WiFi network, essentially acting like a more reliable extender.
Both the base unit and the receiver are ‘passthrough’ which means that although they take up an entire plug socket each, they feature sockets themselves, so you can still plug some other device into them. This is great, as it means that you don’t lose any sockets when using the device. It’s almost like they aren’t there. Spooky.
What won’t spook you is how easy the system is to set up, thanks in no small way to the Pair button on both devices. Once plugged in, and with the router connected to the base unit, a quick press of that button meant the two devices found each other immediately, and the WiFi network was already working by the time we walked upstairs to the receiving unit. Once there we were able to press the WiFi Clone button to copy both the original wireless network’s name and password. Pretty seamless, guys.
The new network features dual band WiFi, coming with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz flavours. The 5GHz network can handle speeds of up to 867 megabytes per second, and combined with the 2.4 version, the system will push 1200Mbps, hence the name. This makes it perfect for streaming content and playing online games, even in the farthest reaches of your house where WiFi is normally non-existent.
While you’re there, should you have something that doesn’t necessarily need to connect via WiFi (or indeed something that is wired only), like a games console or streaming box, you can plug it into one of the three available Ethernet ports on the receiver. That’s a very handy thing, and allows older model desktop computers, those without in-built WiFi, to connect to the internet without having to run wires throughout your home.
The TP-Link AV1200 Passthrough Powerline Wi-Fi Kit also has its own app (iOS and Android), which gives you full control of permissions, speed checks, and also – crucially – being able to turn off the blinking green LEDs on the receiver unit. One thing that has always put us off from having routers and extenders in bedrooms is the incessant flashing lights these things tend to feature. But with this, one flick of a smartphone switch, and they’re gone. Another very handy feature.
By far the most versatile powerline kit we’ve ever tested, this is a definite alternative to playing around with wireless extenders. After all, you already have the electrical wiring running throughout your home… you might as well put it to some good.