If you were sent a free router with your home broadband, you might want to consider switching it to something better, and we think the TP-Link TL-WR741ND could fit the bill.
We're certainly impressed by this router, which was sent to us after much whinging about our very janky, Virgin Media-supplied D-Link doorstop. The problem with the D-Link was, well, everything.
The miserable lump of plastic has a DNS bug that means it often can't convert Web requests from domain names into IP addresses. This is frustrating if you want to look at the Internet -- we're very fond of looking at the Internet, so you'll understand this was very annoying indeed.
On top of that, to log in to the router, you have to press a button labelled "login in", which hardly dazzled us with competence.
So the TP-Link, sent in a random act of kindness by a PR, seemed like the solution to a weekend of screaming at our existing hardware. We fired it up and got stuck in to switching it in to our home network. At first, we struggled a little.
The TP-Link came pre-configured to create a network on the 192.168.1 range, but our existing hardware all uses 192.168.0 IP addresses, and as much of it is static, we didn't feel like changing all the IP addresses. After some more swearing, we got a laptop to communicate with the router on its default IP and changed it to operate in our preferred range.
And that was basically it for the boring technical stuff, and any problems. The TP-Link has a marvellously simple Web interface. It allows you to configure everything from wireless settings right through to more complex routing options and firmware upgrades.
We love its advanced options too, because it meant connecting to our work VPN was finally possible -- more than we can say for the D-Link and its reign of incompetent terror.
Our only real complaint about the TP-Link is it doesn't have full-speed 802.11n. Instead, it uses a non-standard version of the specification which can perform at 150Mbps, instead of 300Mbps. You do, however, get the advantages of extended range -- we've been very happy with ours, and 150Mbps is usually enough to handle most HD video without massive problems.
We did find out -- the hard way -- that upgrading the firmware will wipe all your settings, so make a backup of them before you go messing about.
We're so pleased with the TP-Link we're going to smash our D-Link DIR-615 into a thousand pieces, and post it back to D-Link as a sort of protest. Seriously.
If you'd like to see a video of that, let us know below -- or press the 'like' button above and we'll see what we can do. If you want to get a TP-Link and join us in the revolution, you can buy it on Amazon for under £17.