Deep in the darkest corner of every house is a hideous pain. People are even embarrassed to talk about it.
The Wi-Fi Dead Zone!
TP-Link AC1200 Powerline Wi-Fi Range Extender review
You know, that corner in the basement or that one room in the house where the Wi-Fi just isn’t strong enough? And it seems that corner is just perfect for a small laptop workstation or smart TV.
Tragically, websites won’t load as quickly and Netflix just can’t get enough of a signal to deliver that streaming quality that makes you wanna chill.
In my case, I needed to record conversations on Google Hangouts for a podcast. After experiencing lag and delays in the conversation and occasional freezing, I recruited a Wi-Fi range extender from TP-Link. TP-Link promises easy setup and improved connectivity with this pair of devices.
What is the TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender?
The TP-Link device works by using your home’s electrical wiring as a network of ethernet cables. Mind boggling, but pretty smart! Essentially the data travels through the wiring in your home before arriving at the extender where it can laser beam it right into your computer or phone, eliminating any dead zones.
Setting up TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender
The quick installation guide for the TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender is a 4-page miniature booklet that outlines a 5-step process. Whenever something looks too easy, I get a little skeptical.
One of the steps had me particularly worried:
“Step 3. Press the Pair button on the powerline adapter for 1 second. The Power LED starts blinking.
If the Power LED does not blink, press it again.”
Press it again, huh? And what if it doesn’t start blinking then? Repeat?
Cross that bridge when we come to it, I guess.
Plan properly: You’ll need 2 outlets, 1 near router
To set up this device, you have to have two available power outlets on the same circuit, so be sure of that before you get started.
There are two devices in the box; the adapter and the extender. On the packaging for the TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender, the Extender looks like the delighted one with his arms in the air after defeating his opponent, the Adapter, which is lying on the ground with that look on his face.
Starting with the Adapter, use one of the included Ethernet cables to connect it to a LAN port on the back of your modem.
Then, plug it into the wall outlet.
(This is where I discovered my only complaint about this device. It’s actually a big and has a seemingly avoidable issue. In the interest of suspense, more on that later.)
Head over to the other power outlet on the same circuit and plug in the Extender.
Then, back to the Adapter and press and hold the ‘Pair’ button for one second. The Power LED should start blinking.
It didn’t start blinking.
Following the instructions in the quick installation guide to a “T”, I did EXACTLY as I was told.
“…Press it again.”
It worked! (That’s weird. How did they know?!)
You now have two minutes to press the ‘Pair’ button on the other device. This gives you a chance to pet your dog or go scratch your cat or something.
When you press the ‘Pair’ button on the Extender, the Power LED will start blinking. When it’s on and stable, the pairing of the devices is done. You can now move the Extender to that deep, dark, disconnected corner of your house where the Internet doesn’t shine.
Connect your computer or device to the extender
Once you plug the Extender in where you want it, you can search for it on the devices you wish to connect. On the network settings of your device, you’ll find “TP-LINK_xxxx” or something similar.
The box comes with a Wi-Fi Info Card for your devices that contains an 8-digit password for your Extender. Type this in and you’re good to go.
If your router supports WPS, and if you’d rather copy your router’s Wi-Fi settings, you can do that with a similar process to the one described above for general setup.
Setup is easy, but how does TP Link Powerline work?
Setting up the TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender was a piece of cake. Better still, it works really well… for me.
Your mileage may vary, but my before-and-after speed tests (using Fast.com and Ookla) went from a range of 38mbps-42mbps up to 55mbps-59mbps on a 5G network.
That’s an improvement I could see in the quality of those Google Hangouts improve!
A few things you should know about TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender
TP-LINK tells you not to plug this device into a power bar. It has to go directly into your wall outlet to work as designed.
The TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender has one immediately noticeable shortcoming. It doesn’t play nicely with other plugs.
The design of the devices is such that it obstructs you from using both plugs in a typical wall outlet. Since TP-Link suggests you plug the Adapter and Extender directly into the wall, this creates a real problem for those of us who are starved for power connections.
It’s too bad. This device delivers on the promise of extending your home’s Wi-Fi network brilliantly. I’m not sure why this design oversight exist.
So far, that seems to be the only problem.
Overall Review of TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender
The TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender does what it says. It extends your Wi-Fi signal into poorly covered areas of your home with the help of your electric lines.
The setup is easy and the improvement in connectivity is noticeable.
There are a number of things you can do to try to speed up or extend your Wi-Fi coverage to the dead spots in your home.
I tried some of those.
This is the easiest way I’ve found to get the result I wanted.
As of 2023, the newest model of this is the TP-Link AX1800 WiFi Extender Internet Booster (RE605X), which is available on Amazon.
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