I hope you have participated in the giveaway contest I organised last week. If not, you might regret after reading this write up on how impressive this new powerline kit is.
The TL-WPA8730 kit comes with the TP-WPA8730 Extender and TP-PA8010P Powerline Adapter and are retailing in Singapore at S$259. Yes, you would not expect homeplugs to cost that much, do you? I could easily buy a pair for less than S$100. But do you know how much technology this premium product carries?
Here’s a recap of the feature list:
AC1750 Dual band Wi-Fi – 450MHz on the 2.4GHz band and 1300MHz on the 5GHz band. With combined speeds of up to 1750Mbps, it provides fast and seamless network for multiple devices. Supports 2×2 MIMO beamforming.
AV1200 Powerline Speed – Fully meet the demand for bandwidth-intensive activities like HD video streaming and online gaming, with ultra-fast powerline transfer speed of up to 1200Mbps.
Wi-Fi Clone – Automatically copies the network name (SSID) and password of your router with the touch of the Wi-Fi clone button.
Wi-Fi Auto-Sync – Makes it easy to add additional extenders to your powerline network by uniformly syncing settings such as SSID, password, Wi-Fi Schedule and LED Schedule for all network devices.
Plug, Pair, and Play –Set up your powerline network and start enjoying fast, seamless wired/wireless connections in a matter of minutes.
Manage with utility, app and web UI – The tpPLC utility, the intuitive tpPLC mobile app, and the powerful web interface make it easy to personalize and manage your network.
Plug, Pair and Play
I got the pair set up in minutes. The powerline kit comes pre-paired, so just plug both units to the wall socket. But if to give a piece of mind, you can still initiate the pairing process by pressing the “pair” button on both the units.
You can see from the photo below that the new TP-LINK powerline units are a lot bigger than my current Aztech ones. The plugs are located at the bottom instead of the top, which pose a problem as my current socket has obstruction. The new powerline units are so big that I cannot reach the power switch after plugging in, so I had to turn on the power before plugging the powerline into the socket. Do take note to ensure the current power socket has ample space to accommodate the large units.
tpPLC Smartphone App
I then installed the tpPLC smartphone app which promptly detects the 2 units in my home network, even when I did not connect to the SSID of the WPA8730. Somehow, the app detects the presence of the 2 units since I have already connected the PA8010P to my home router.
The tpPLC app is rather intuitive and clean. It offers most of the configuration features to manage the powerline units. It even shows the data rate which gives me a piece of mind that it is transmitting at the full bandwidth of 1200Mbps.
The app has limited setting menu, like managing LED light on the units, which comes in handy if you need the units to operate in stealth mode.
For more advanced setup, there is a need to log in to the admin module from the web browser.
You can even schedule the LED on and off timings!
To test the speed of the powerline, I find an open wall socket in the living room, plugged the ThinkPad X250 laptop over Ethernet and ran speed test achieving almost 200Mbps. That got me wondering: if the app tells me I am connecting at 1200Mbps, how come my broadband speed is not even close?
So I tested my broadband speed by directly plugging the X250 laptop to the Fibre ONT. The speed test shows that my download and upload speed average 400Mbps. Network congestion, I suppose? I will leave it to another day to check with my service provider.
The next thing to do is to set up the Wi-Fi SSID transmitting from the WPA8730. From the tpPLC app, it is a breeze to configure the Wi-Fi settings. I don’t even need to connect to the SSID before making changes, since the app can already access the units via my current router.
The WPA8730 offers dual band Wi-Fi – 2.4GHz and 5GHz, as well as guest SSID. It also comes with 3 Ethernet ports, making it really no less than a standard router.
Rather than repeating wireless data signals like other Wi-Fi repeaters do, the WPA8730 uses the data transmitted over powerline to broadcast data signal, which theoretically makes the data packets more reliable and practically eliminates the need to overlap Wi-Fi coverage which extenders require.
The WPA8730 comes with Wi-Fi clone feature to replicate your existing Wi-Fi network configuration. I personally prefer to create a separate SSID so that I can control which router I connect to. I also disabled the 2.4GHz band as the 5GHz band offers higher bandwidth and I don’t want to have too many Wi-Fi bands to consume the limited bandwidth over the powerline. Having said that, the WPA8730 supports 2×2 MIMO, meaning 2 devices can receive data simultaneously without bandwidth throttle.
Using my LG G5, I ran speed test over the WPA8730 AC band, and I got on average 200Mbps. That’s impressive for me considering the data came through powerline and over Wi-Fi.
Powerline Over Extension Cord
After finish testing the powerline speed in the living room, I moved the WPA8730 into my study room where my existing homeplug is located. A major issue with the WPA8730 kit is the size and my current socket positioning. As a result, I was unable to plug the unit on the same wall socket where I used to plug the old homeplug. The next best place is on an extension cord, and I had to plug it at the last socket. The manual discourages this, but I had no choice, so I was prepared to get degradation of bandwidth.
According to the app, plugging to the extension cord gets me 245 Mbps data rate. The speed test on my desktop over Ethernet gets me about 100 Mbps, and I get similar results over WiFi. When running speed tests concurrently on multiple devices, the total bandwidth adds up to about 120Mbps. If you ask me, that’s good enough for me. Remember: I am plugging the WPA8730 on an extension cord (no choice for now), so I believe I should get even higher bandwidth if I were to plug onto the wall socket directly.
Another advantage of the integrated Wi-Fi router is improved bandwidth quality in my bedroom, which now receives about 60Mbps bandwidth. Without the WPA8730 in my study room, when I accessed the wireless router in my living room from my bedroom, I only get less than 10Mbps.
TP-LINK TL-WPA8730 kit can deliver much higher bandwidth over powerline with its AV1200 standard compared to my existing AV500 homeplug where I am getting about 60Mbps. While it is far from the theoretical speed, what matters is that the delivered bandwidth is sufficient for most applications, including TV content, gaming. And since the powerline is only supplementary to delivering dedicated bandwidth to my desktop in my study room, I still have spare bandwidth to consume over the Wi-Fi router.
This new TP-LINK Powerline Kit is proven to be a reliable way to extend my home network at a wider area without the need for coverage overlap to repeat wireless signals. I am very satisfied with the results and I will be replacing my current homeplugs with this permanently. You can improve your home networking quality too buy getting it for S$259 at all good computer retailer stores or at Lazada.
Official product website: http://www.tp-link.sg/products/details/cat-18_TL-WPA8730-KIT.html