Best Cheap Wireless Wifi Internet Router
TP-LINK TL-WR841N Review - 2015

TP-LINK TL-WR841N wireless router review
my trusty TP-LINK TL-WR841N wireless router

TP-LINK TL-WR841N wireless router
Rating: 5/5 by
Last Updated: October 21, 2015

Review Summary: I highly recommend the TP-LINK TL-WR841N wifi wireless router. It works. I've had it for a year (purchased July 10, 2014), and I've never had a problem with it. I wasn't sure what to expect when I got it since it was so cheap (only $20!) and I was afraid I would regret it and I'd learn the lesson of "you get what you pay for", but the truth with the WR841N is that it is an amazing value and it works great!

Background: Last year I decided to replace my old D-Link DI-524 router. It still worked ok, but I wondered if a new wireless router would provide better wifi coverage around our house for our new Republic Wireless cell phones. In addition, although I was never able to get the D-Link DI-524 secured network (password protected) settings to work. Whenever I tried setting up encryption with the old DI524, it just wouldn't work, so I left the wireless network open to the public, but turned off the router name broadcast, so other people wouldn't see the network name to login in (if you knew the network name, then you could enter it and log on). I was relying on "Security Through Obscurity" which I knew wasn't the best idea. Anyway, I needed to replace my old cable modem (Cox wasn't supporting it anymore and and it was starting to have problems) so I decided to get a new wireless router at the same time I got a new DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem. I think that I paid about $80 bucks for my old DLink router, so I expecting to pay about that much for a new wifi router. Then I saw the TP-LINK TL-WR841N on Amazon for about $20. I hadn't heard of TP-Link before, but I'm always looking for a deal and I definitely like to save money, and I do think sometimes there are amazing deals out there (like Republic Wireless!). So after seeing that the TP-Link TL-WR841N had mostly good reviews I decided to buy one and see how it worked. I purchased my TL-WR841N router from Amazon on July 10, 2014.

my home office set up
my home office set up [TP-LINK TL-WR841N wireless router on right]

SPECIFICATIONS:
Wireless N speed up to 300Mbps
Backward compatible with 802.11b/g products
Two 5dBi antennas
IP Quality of Service (QoS) allows you to prioritize bandwidth for different devices
WPA/WPA2 button allows easy setup for connection of other WPA devices (ie BluRay players, wireless printers, laptops, etc)


back of the TP-LINK TL-WR841N router

SET UP:
Setting up the TP-LINK TL-WR841N wireless router was simple. Since then, I haven't really touched the router, and I've never had a problem with it. It just works. To set up the router, first you unpack it from the box. The box contains the router, the power adapter, an ethernet cable, a mini-CD, and a Quick Installation Guide (instructions). Per the easy to follow instructions, you will need to hook up the hardware and then configure the router. To hook up the router, you follow these steps: (1) power off your modem, (2) connect the WAN port on the router to the your modem's LAN port with the enclosed ethernet cable, (3) connect your computer to one of the four LAN ports with an ethernet cable, (4) power on your modem and wait for one minute, then (5) plug the power adapter into the router and a wall outlet and make sure the ON/OFF switch on the back of the router is on so the router powers up. After your router is hooked up, you the put the miniCD in your computer and run it to configure the router. The process is quite simple, and is where you can give your router a name (I named ours MILKWEED since we are into Monarch butterflies) and set up a password. Again, setting up the router is EASY.

TIP #1: Router Location - one thing I did do after a month or so, based on a comment I saw somewhere on the internet, was to move the router. I originally set it on the top of my desktop computer. I read that this can cause some interference with the wireless signal. Based on that, I bought a 15ft long USB cord and moved the router away from the computer (it's now about 5 ft away from the computer). I think this helped improve the signal even more, and I recommend that you locate your router at least a few feet away from your computer.

TIP #2: Power - If you hook up your router and it doesn't seem to be working at all, make sure the ON/OFF toggle switch on the back is pressed and toggled in so it is ON. The power light on the front should be illuminated if the power is on. It's easy when unplugging and plugging in the power cord to accidentally toggle the power switch off. Make sure it is ON.

TIP #3: Cables - If you unplug the router to move it and then plug everything back in and the power light is ON, but the router doesn't seem to work any more, check that you have correctly reconnected the ethernet cables! I unplugged all the cords and cables to take a picture of the router for this review, and when I hooked everything back up, I couldn't get the router to connect to the internet and my kids kept asking me why our wifi was down. After trying several things and wondering if the router had died, I realized I had the ethernet cables mixed up and the cable for my Obi200 VOIP adapter was hooked into the WAN port and the cable modem cable was hooked one of the LAN ports. I swapped them, reset the modem and router, and everything worked again!

FEATURES:
IP Quality of Service (QoS): The TL-WR841N allows you to set up Qos. Republic Wireless recommends you use it to prioritize voip for their phones, which is why I made sure to buy a router that supported QoS. However, since the wifi voice quality for our Republic Wireless Moto G phone is so good with the router as is, I've never bothered to set up QoS. For us, it's not necessary.

WPA - I used this feature to connect our new BluRay player, and it's a nice bonus feature. If you press the WPA button on the back of the router, it allows the other device to automatically connect to the router wifi. It's a nice feature that speeds up connecting other devices to your wifi system.

Wifi Range / Coverage - EXCELLENT! The router is in my home office in the front of our house. We have a 1970's Southern California "tract home". It has stucco on the exterior walls, which consist of a mixture of concrete slathered over chicken wire. I've read that stucco and chicken wire can cause problems with one's wifi coverage, but we still get good coverage all over our house, as well as the front sidewalk and the wall at the back of our property. I am completely satisfied with the range and coverage this wireless router provides.

Wifi VOIP Call Quality - EXCELLENT! Talking on our Republic Wireless Moto G phones using wifi (VOIP) with this router is amazing. Whether we are in our house, or in the front or back yard, talking on our Republic Wireless Moto G cell phone is like talking on a land line. The wifi voip voice quality is excellent. If you're looking for an effective wifi router to go with your Republic Wireless phone, I highly recommend this router. Note that the quality of your internet service is equally important. We are in Santa Barbara, California, and have cable internet via Cox Cable. We have the most basic Cox "Starter" internet package, which is 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload. They have tried to convince us we need to pay more to get a higher speed package, but the 5/1 Mbps speed package works just fine for us.

voip quality test results using TL-WR841N wireless router
[results from megapath.com speedtestplus VOIP test run on our laptop over wifi using TL-WR841N wireless router]

WHAT WE USE WIFI FOR: We use wifi (and the TP-LINK wireless router) for streaming via our wireless BluRay player for Pandora (works), youtube (works), and Netflix (works), as well as streaming the same via our wireless Dell laptop (works), printing via our wireless Brother 2270DW laser printer (works), and talking over wifi voip on our Republic Wireless Moto G smart phones.

REVIEW CONCLUSION:
The TP-LINK TL-WR841N wireless home router works. It has good range and is reliable. We've had it for a year, and it's never had a problem. For an unbelievable $20 on Amazon, it is an amazing value. I don't see any reason for most people to pay any more money for a more expensive wireless router. Buy this router!

September 18, 2015 update - My TP-Link TL-WR841N router continues to work just fine, and it's been over a year (and never a problem). I was just reminded yesterday how easy it is to set up (or re-set up). I sometimes turn off the wifi portion of the router. To do this, one holds the "wifi" button on the back down for about three seconds, and the wifi indicator light goes out. If you hold the wifi button down again for about three seconds, the wifi light comes back on. I wanted to turn the wifi off and reached around to the back of the router without looking and held the button down, waiting for the green wifi light to turn off. After waiting longer than I should have to, all the lights flashed off and on, but the wifi light stayed on. I realized I had held down the "reset" button instead (and for over 8 seconds), and I had just reset the router to the original factory settings, including wiping out my router's SSID custom name ("milkweed") and password. I found the router instructions and mini-CD and loaded the mini-CD in my computer. It took me all of two minutes to run the set-up program and rename the router SSID to "milkweed" and put back in my password and set the security level to the most security (WPA2-PSL). I now keep the instructions and mini-CD in an envelope under the router so I have them handy if I need them, but I will be careful to hold the "wifi" button down, and not the "reset" button. I thought this was a great opportunity to update this review and to say the router is still working just fine after a year, and really is incredibly easy to set up! Don't be fooled by the seemingly too-good-to-be-true price. The TL-WR841 wifi router is both a great deal and a great value, and most importantly, it works!

***  buy the TL-WR841N router from Amazon  ***
(only $19.99! price last verified October 21, 2015)

 

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