TP-Link Wireless Lite-N Router TL- WR741ND; Hands On 1


Take another look at the price listed above. Yes, when we were invited to review an 802.11n compatible router that costs less than £20/$50, we were pretty surprised too, but that’s exactly what the TP-Link Wireless Lite-N Router TL-WR741ND claims to be. It sounded ideal for our Digital Home on a Budget series, so we were delighted to take a look at what that kind of money buys you in 2010.

A good router is an essential ingredient in your digital home, although the best ones are often taken for granted. Ever spend time thinking about your router? Spend a lot of time adjusting its settings? If not, you’ve got a great router – whilst at the top end of the market, manufacturers are desperately adding all sorts of bells and whistles to try to differentiate their products, for most of us, we just want a router to do its job and not cause us any grief. What is that job? To provide the necessary high speed wired and wireless network connections to connect our computers together, and allow us to access the internet. End of story. Sure there are different routers with different features, but glancing at the We Got Served 10 second guide to a great router, we need our routers to a. Connect to computers easily and consistently, b. Ensure the network connection doesn’t drop, c. Ensure data moves around the network as quickly as possible and d. Be secure. For more advanced users, there are other features we need – uPnP support is great for auto-port forwarding, VPN Passthrough is good for business users, but for 9 out of 10 people, get points a to d right, don’t cause any issues, and we’re happy. Let’s see if we can achieve that with the TL-WR741ND.

Who are TP-Link?

TP-Link are a new brand to us, but it turns out they’ve been manufacturing for quite some time out of their base in China. In fact, they’re the market leaders over there. Here’s how they introduce themselves:
TP-LINK is a global provider of SOHO networking products and No.1 market share holder in China, with products available in over 100 countries to tens of millions customers. Committed to powerful R&D, effective production and strict quality management, TP-LINK continues to provide awards-winning networking products in Wireless, ADSL, Routers, Switches, IP Cameras, Powerline Adapters, Print Servers, Media Converters and Network Adapters for Global end-users.
Based on the confidence of tens of millions of customers, TP-LINK is now growing to become one of the most competitive providers of networking products with aspirations of becoming one of the top 3 networking brands and striving for a larger global market share, while further advancing in the world of networking to better serve our most valued customers with a product that makes their lives easier.

Let’s put one thing straight quickly – although the product hints strongly at 802.11n compatibility in its name, “Wireless Lite-N” is not the same as “Wireless N”. TP-Link’s definition of “Wireless Lite-N” is support for speeds up to 150Mbps when connected to an 802.11n device. Given full 802.11n networks support theoretical speeds up to 300Mbps, what we have here is in reality a supercharged 802.11g router. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s good to know what you’re getting for your cash. As mentioned in the specs:
The device leverages some 802.11n features to provide improved performance and coverage compared to 802.11a/g devices, and fully interoperate with 802.11n products, but it does not conform to all of the requirements in the IEEE specification and are not classified as “n” in the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED program.
That means it’s faster than an 802.11g router when used with an 802.11n adaptor, but you won’t get true 802.11n speeds. You may get a stronger connection than an 802.11g router when when used with an 802.11n adaptor, but you won’t get true 802.11n signal strength.

However, that’s not to say the router isn’t well featured – indeed, the TL-WR741ND includes all of the core features you’d expect in a modern, single antenna, single-band wireless router. Full specs as follows:
StandardsIEEE 802.11n*,IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11b
Wireless Signal RatesUp to 150Mbps
Frequency Range2.4-2.4835GHz
Wireless Transmit Power20dBm(MAX)(EIRP-total effective radiated power is 20 dBm(100mW), antenna gain will not influence wireless transmit power)
Modulation TechnologyDBPSK, DQPSK, CCK, OFDM, 16-QAM, 64-QAM
Receiver Sensitivity130M: -68dBm@10% PER
54M: -68dBm@10% PER
11M: -85dBm@8% PER
6M: -88dBm@10% PER
1M: -90dBm@8% PER
Interface4 10/100M LAN Ports
1 10/100M WAN Port
Antenna3dBi Detachable Omni Directional Antenna
Dimensions6.9 x 4.4 x 1.2 in. (174 x 111 x 30 mm)

 So, in theory, whilst the network speeds available may not be the fastest available on the market today on either wireless or wired connections, there’s still plenty of bandwidth available for all but the most demanding jobs. We’re generally cautious about recommending 802.11n for video streaming, so 802.11g (or Wireless N-Lite if you will) is a definite no-no, but wireless music and photo streaming and video streaming over a wired connection should be fine.

What’s in the Box?

Open up and you’ll find:
  • TP-Link Wireless Lite-N Router TL-WR741ND
  • Detachable Antenna
  • Ethernet Cable
  • Power Adaptor
  • Resource Mini CD
  • Quick Installation Guide

Great to see an Ethernet cable, Manual and Installation CD included in the pack – no corners cut, despite the low price.


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