TP-Link N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit ADSL2+ Modem Router review: affordable and versatile dual-band wireless router
It’s not the most elegant router we’ve ever seen, but TP-Link’s N600 is a fast, versatile and affordable option for anyone that needs to set up a wireless network at home or in their office.
The N600 is one of the larger routers to come our way recently, and with its three large antennae poking up into the air it looks rather like the Millenium Dome. And, in fact, there are five antennae altogether, as there are another two tucked away inside the router.
But while the N600 may look like a bit of an eyesore, those multiple antennae do, of course, serve a purpose by helping to improve range and reception. We were pleased to see that the N600 had no trouble sending a clear, strong signal to the deadspot in the back of our offices that is normally beyond the reach of our basic BT router.
Tucked around the back of the router you’ll find an ADSL port for your broadband connection, along with four gigabit Ethernet ports for wired networking, and two USB ports for sharing printers and storage devices. There’s also a WPS button (wifi protected setup) for quickly setting up a secure wireless network and a handy little button that lets you turn the wifi on or off manually, either for security purposes or just to save some money when the router’s not being used at night.
It’s a dual-band router too, with support for both the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz bands, and the device’s web browser interface allows you to specify whether it uses both bands simultaneously or just one at a time. And, finally, the N600 provides additional future-proofing by supporting IPv6 – which isn’t essential at the moment, but may well become important over the next couple of years, especially for business users.
We really don’t have any complaints about the router itself or its performance. However, TP-Link could do a better job with the manual and help files that it supplies with the N600. The set-up software provided with the router is for PCs only, so Mac users have to use the router’s browser interface to set up the router and to adjust various settings. There is a ‘Quick Setup’ option in the browser interface, but even this tends to throw quite a lot of jargon at you, and home users who aren’t familiar with terms such as VCI/VPI and WPA-PSK may well get a bit confused here.
The same is true with other options too. There are parental controls that allow you to limit the time that your kids spend online, but these aren’t easy to set up and the PDF manual (which you’ll have to look for on the TP-Link web site) takes it for granted that you understand jargon such as MAC addresses and VPN tunnels.
We can’t fault the N600 from a technical point of view, as it performs well and provides all the features that home users and small businesses are likely to need at a competitive price. However, the lack of Mac software and rather daunting browser interface mean that it’s perhaps more suited to business users who know how to make the most of its many features.