We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Wi-Fi and Networking Reviews
15,670 Reviews

TP-Link TL-WA850RE review

£33 inc VAT

Manufacturer: TP-Link

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

The TP-Link 300Mbps Universal Wireless N Range Extender, or TL-WA850RE, is a Wi-Fi range extender to increase your network's reach in the home.

Dead spots, sometimes called not-spots, are a fact of life with current Wi-Fi technology. When 11b wireless networks first entered the market it wasn't unusual to have several routers or WAPs (wireless access points) spread around to allow users to get a signal to those dead spots around the house.

See: more reviews of wireless and networking products.

However, as the technology has improved with each wireless revision (from 11b to 11n) the default format for almost all users is the single modem/router combination for coverage of the whole house. This is limiting for anyone whose house lies over several stories. Or for brick or concrete walls as is the case in many blocks of flats, where bandwidth can dramatically deteriorate or vanish over even short distances.

Wireless range extenders allow you to extend the range of your wireless network and increase bandwidth to low signal areas. They do this by receiving the wireless signal of your network, and then rebroadcasting it.

The TP-Link WA850RE is just such a 2.4GHz wireless 11n range extender, also known as the TP-Link 300Mbps Universal Wireless N Range Extender.

The first thing you notice about it is the styling. It comes in a fetching and minimalist white box which contains an even more attractive product.

The white housing is reminiscent of Apple’s designs and feels very chic and stylish. The design of the lights is also elegant, avoiding the usual flashing row of indicators for a compact circular arrangement. The plug is built directly into the back of the device which makes it very neat although you will need a power extension cable if a low-down skirting board site proves inappropriate.

The set up of the device is initially straightforward. You plug in the device, connect to its network SSID – handily called ‘TP-Link’ – and then follow the wizard.

The wizard simply requires you to select your existing network name, enter your password and click Finish. It’s this last part that’s a little confusing. After clicking the finish button we waited for an indication that the device had rebooted and was setup; but none came, no message, no change in Wi-Fi signal lights.

But disconnecting and reconnecting the power spurred the device into life and it then connected to the network without issue.

Like most wireless range extenders, once set up you can unplug and move the TP-Link around the house or office and it will retain its settings. This means you could extend the network to different dead spots depending on where you are in the house, just by unplugging and moving the device.

Once connected the device includes a fairly comprehensive set of tools such as MAC Address filtering, DHCP and throughput data-rate which can be accessed via a web browser. The device also includes an ethernet port which can be used to connect printers or media TVs.

TP-Link TL-WA850RE: Performance

We tested the TL-WA850RE by placing the range extender on the stairwell of our building, approximately 5 metres from the router. This was as far as was possible while maintaining a 4-out-of-5 step signal due to the occluding walls and concrete.

As a baseline we placed a laptop on floors 1-3 to get a baseline speed with the range extender off.

The baseline results were 24Mbps on floor 1, 1Mbps on floor 2 and no signal on floor 3.

With the TL-WA850RE the datarates increased to 29Mbps on floor 1, 26Mbps on floor 2 and 6Mbps on floor 3. This beats a Linksys RE1000 we also tested in terms of raw speed – although the connection on the TP-link did have a tendency to drop out when moving between the router and the extender.

It’s also worth noting that the extremely compact TL-WA850RE actually gave very similar performance to its larger brother, the TL-WA830RE.

Given the lower price tag of £33 the TL-WA850RE could be the more attractive option.

TP-Link TL-WA850RE Expert Verdict »

TP-Link TL-WA850RE Universal Wireless N 300Mbps Range Extender Scores 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 reviews
Wi-Fi range extender
802.11n, 2.4GHz only, 2x2 antennae array
1x 10/100 ethernet port
Quality of Service features, WPS Security (WPA2 also available)
110 x 65 x 75mm
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 6 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 8 of 10 for value for money
  • Performance: We give this item 7 of 10 for performance
  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

The TP-Link TL-WA850RE is an undeniably stylish product that blends in well with its environment. For such a small device it offers good performance for a product of this type. If you intend to use this extender to move seamlessly between its zone and the area covered by your main router, we found the Linksys RE1000 provide more consistency.


IDG UK Sites

Microsoft smartwatch release date, price and specs rumours: Launching within a few weeks

IDG UK Sites

Why you shouldn't buy the iPad mini 3: No wonder Apple gave it 10 seconds of stage time

IDG UK Sites

Halloween Photoshop tutorials: 13 masterclasses for horrifying art, designs and type

IDG UK Sites

Should I upgrade from Mavericks to OS X 10.10 Yosemite? What you need to know before updating to...