An ultra-cheap router with maxed out networking speeds.
So you want the fastest local area and wireless networking technology available, at the lowest cost you can get it? The TP-Link TL-WR2543ND is your answer. Available in some stores for less than $100, the TP-Link delivers both Gigabit LAN and 450Mbps simultaneous dual-band wireless. Its wireless reception was not as good as that of the Netgear and ASUS routers when we tested it, but your mileage may vary.
It would be fair to call the administration interface of the TP-Link 'retro', which is really just another way of saying 'bad'. If you’re a hardcore networking geek, you might find its bare-metal approach appealing, but beginners -- and even users of moderate technology knowledge -- may find it challenging. Fortunately, there's a basic setup wizard and CD, which while not nearly as slick as the solutions from the likes of Netgear, does serve to get the basics of wireless and internet connectivity happening.
The feature set offered by the router and firmware is solid, however. The router has a USB port, which can be used to share files through FTP, Windows File Sharing or DLNA/UPnP AV; the setup for the latter is not pretty, but it worked with an Xbox 360 when we tested it. It also supports printer sharing. There are quite configurable quality of service settings as well.
Ultimately, the reason you would buy the TP-Link is not for the capabilities of its firmware, but for the outstanding hardware at an extremely low price. It would make an excellent target for third-party firmware like DD-WRT or Tomato – although unfortunately it’s new enough and unique enough that most third-party firmware support is still sketchy. At the time of writing, it was reported that OpenWrt was functioning on the TP-Link, but not DD-WRT.
Pros : Amazingly cheap, NBN-ready, fast local networking.
Cons : The administration interface needs a lot of work.
Verdict : 9/10 (Editor's Choice)
Contact : Altech Computers
Online : www.tp-link.com.au
Price : $100