The tiny TP-Link 150Mbps Wireless N Nano Router (TL-WR702N) offers more than you need to share an existing Internet connection. Plus, it looks like candy.
You should really watch out for a choking hazard with the TP-Link 150Mbps Wireless N Nano Router, model TL-WR702N. This may well be the tiniest Wireless-N router you can find.
Despite its tiny size, the Nano router offers more wireless functions than many regular-size routers. It can be used as a router, an access point, a range extender, or a media bridge. Its best, and default, use is as an access point for those wanting to quickly add wireless clients to an existing wired network, such as that of a hotel room. That plus the ultracompact size makes the router a useful companion for mobile users.
That said, the Nano Router is obviously far from perfect and lacks many things you can find in a full-size router. Considering its current street price of just $21, however, you won't go wrong with it.
Design and features
Measuring 2.2 inches by 0.7 inch by 2.2 inches and weighing just 8 ounces, the square TP-Link 150Mbps Wireless N Nano Router is about the size of a candy bar. And it looks like one, too, with a sleek two-tone plastic cover that comes in white and a mild blue. On one side, the router has an Ethernet port and a standard Micro-USB 2.0 port for charging. The included USB charger, which is relatively compact in its own right, is in fact bulkier than the router itself. The router also comes with a flat network cable neatly curled, ready to be carried when you're on the go.
The router's Ethernet port works either as a LAN port (to connect to a client) or a WAN port (to connect to an Internet source). The only time it works as a WAN port is when the TL-WR702N is being used as a router. When it's used as an access point, range extender, or media bridge, this port acts as a LAN port.
Along these lines, the Nano would be a much better-designed product if it came with a hardware switch, allowing users to quickly change its function. Instead, you have to resort to its Web interface for this. And getting to the router's Web interface will probably be tricky for novice users. More on this below.
However, if you just want to use the Nano in its default function of an access point, setting it up is simple. On the bottom of the device, there's a small label that shows the default wireless work name (or the SSID) and the default password. This information varies from one unit to another and is all you need to use it. Plug the Nano into power, connect its Ethernet port to an existing wired network, such as a switch or a router, and you're ready. All you need to do now is connect wireless clients to its wireless network with the provided information.
Note that the Nano's default setup should also work with most existing cable and DSL modems with DHCP function. If you don't have that type of modem, you'll need to change the Nano to work as a router, which can be a hassle.
This is because in order to go to the router's Web interface, a connected client needs to have an IP address in the same range as that of the router. Since the router's default IP is 192.168.0.254, you will have to manually change a connected client's IP to be 192.168.0.x, with x being anything between 1 and 253, before you can access the router's interface. After that, once you have configured the Nano to work as a router, you'll likely need to manually change the client's network adapter to obtain the IP address automatically. In the rare case that the existing wired network shares the same address range, you've lucked out and won't have to change the client's IP address before accessing the router's Web interface.
Now if the above paragraph sounds complicated, that's because manually changing the IP address is a confusing process for most home users, and the Nano could spare them this if its default function were set to be working as a router, like many other multiple-role routers on the market.
Other than this design hiccup, I found the Nano offers a lot for a router so tiny. You can use its Web interface, of which the default username and password are both admin, to customize its long list of common features, including Quality of Service (QoS), port forwarding, MAC address and IP binding, dynamic DNS, and so on. I did find that it lacks support for IPv6, however, so I hope IPv6 support will be added via new firmware in the future.
I didn't expect much from the Nano considering its size, but the router performed very well, both as a router and access point.
When used at close range (15 feet), it registered about 23Mbps, which was more than fast enough to share a connection to the Internet. When I increased this range to 100 feet, the data rate dropped to about 9Mbps. Now that is very slow, but I was actually impressed that the router's range could reach 100 feet. In fact it could reach slightly farther than that, but I found that it's best used within 30 to 75 feet, which is about the right range for a hotel room.
I also tried the Nano as a media bridge and a range extender and in both cased it worked as intended. It's not exactly easy to set it up for these roles, however, and the device is really best used as an access point or a router, rather than anything else.
For those who can get past its potentially tricky initial setup (as a router), or just need a plug-and-play access point, the TP-Link 150Mbps Wireless N Nano Router would be a handy device to carry in your luggage.