The pair of ultra low budget Wireless N routers that I got a HotUKDeal on have arrived from Ebuyer. The model number is a little different from what Ebuyer advertise (N-150 / W311R+). Unboxing photos are below (and apologies for the quality, had to take them on my iPhone as I’ve had a “lost charger” incident with my main camera).
Read on after the photos for all the fun of set-up, settings, and some iPhone troubleshooting!
Initial impressions on just how the routers look and are packaged – they certainly don’t look or feel like sub £15 routers, and the feature list on the box seems to contain everything that I need them to do.
Just to go over what I’ve set out to do here. I purchased 2 of these, one to act as a router should and the other to work behind the TV as a Wireless Bridge so I can connect the XBOX, Slingbox etc via smallish sized Ethernet cables, eliminating the current 3×15 meter purple cables that run around my living room, as well as to take advantage of the faster wireless speed.
Firstly I set up the initial main router (which I shall be referring to as Router 1 in the rest of this post) by connecting it to my Virgin Media 20mb cable modem in the blue ‘WAN’ socket, and my main desktop PC to one of the LAN sockets. Then I rebooted the modem!
In the configuration page at http://192.168.0.1 the set up Wizard appears, this needed to be told what type of connection you have, mine is a Dynamic IP (via DHCP), though the Auto Detect feature works if you’re not sure!
This worked fine, and the desktop was connected via Ethernet without a hitch. A quick security note – change the default password for the router, which is set default to the easily guessable admin, via the System Tools > Change Password menu.
Next, Wireless Configuration. Set the Network Mode to Wireless b/g/n mixed mode – to enable the IEEE802.11n compatibility.
Changed the WiFi channel to a less crowded channel (Channel 7 & 11 for the Extension Channel in my case) and of course the all important security section. I wanted the best compatibility with my equipment so I opted for Mixed WPA/WAP2 Personal with TKIP&AES Algorithms, and changed the pass phrase to something better than ChngMePls.
Next, I went to the Laptop which which has Wireless N capability, and after a bit of tweaking (which I will post about soon) I managed to connect at 150Mbps. The signal seems solid, 5 bars. Looking at the status page of the connection it does occasionally drop in between 60-120Mbps, but this is most likely down to the absolutely awful positioning of my laptop when it’s docked.
SETTING UP THE WIRELESS BRIDGE
Here is a step by step guide to setting up a second Tenda W311R+ router (in this case Router 2) to be a wireless bridge or repeater. Please note this took a good few hours work, as the instructions provided where a little vague. [Note, the Firmware on both routers has been updated to the latest available on the Tenda website.] In my case Router 2 was connected via Ethernet to another computer during this setup process.
- Update Router 1 & Router 2 with the latest available firmware.
- On Router 2 set up basic security settings (router password/wireless pass phrase)
- On Router 2 click on Advanced Settings > LAN settings and change the IP address to 192.168.0.2 (this will enable access to both router admin pages after setup is complete)
- On Router 2 enter the WLAN settings > Basic Settings AND WLAN settings > Security Settings and duplicate the same settings as Router 1, especially making sure the router channels match.
- On Router 2 go to WLAN settings > WDS settings and choose Bridge Mode (Repeater Mode also works with this method as I use it in the troubleshooting section below)
- Enter the correct Encrypt Type as Router 1 – in this case TKIP and enter the Pass Phrase that you created. In this mode you will also see an AP MAC field – In here you need to enter the MAC address of Router 1, this can be obtained by pressing the Open Scan button and selecting Router 1’s Wifi signal. (See Image Below)
-Apply the settings, and this should get the two routers talking to each other. To confirm try to access http://192.168.0.1 and http://192.168.0.2 from the same system. If you are having trouble try rebooting both routers, ensure you have entered the same settings (wifi channel/passphrase) and try again.
This should enable you to connect via an Ethernet cable using the 4 yellow LAN ports (don’t use the blue WAN one!) any devices to your network. You can also use this setup method to set the router up as a wireless extender (And still use the wired ports if required) by selecting Repeater Mode.
The first major issue that I came across is that initially I wasn’t getting anywhere near Wireless N speeds on my laptop as expected, after a bit of research I came up with the solution, which involved changing the settings of my laptops network adapter (not a problem with the router, so I will set up another post about how I fixed this).
The second problem is this: WHEN YOU HAVE WIRELESS N ENABLED, THIS ROUTER DOES NOT GET ON WELL WITH THE IPHONE! UPDATE: EVEN WITH THE FIX BELOW! In fact you could say they have a massive argument.
To point out this seems to be a problem with the iPhone rather than the router itself – there seems to be massive amounts of evidence on the internet about the iPhone not getting on with Wireless N routers – I’ve tried various settings, channels, resets and not had any luck getting the iPhone to connect to a mixed b/g/n signal without getting constant drop outs, slow speeds, disconnections (all on the iPhone itself – no other device is affected) I’m not entirely sure on the specifics of why, but it just doesn’t work well.
Now the most simple fix that pops up on the net is to set the Network Mode in the WIFI settings page to 11b/g mixed mode eliminating the n part, but as this was one of the selling points to me I thought of another way:
Set up “Router 2” as a Wireless repeater, but make the repeating signal a ‘11b/g mixed’ signal, just for my iPhone. This was very simple to do (after about a day of thinking to actually come up with it.) On Router 2 enter a different SSID to Router 1 (in my case my Router 1’s signal is called “WirelessN” and router 2 is “WirelessG”) and change the mode to 11b/g mixed mode. Then in the WDS settings change from Bridge mode to Repeater mode: Everything still works (wireless bridge wise) but I now have 2 signals, one which my iPhone connects to and works flawlessly (UPDATE: better with) and the other providing everything else with N speed capability.
So after some teething trouble I’m extremely happy with the options, look and great performance of the Tenda N-150 / W311R+. If you have an iPhone or iPod touch though it might be worth it to drop the ‘n’ part of the signal as it seems to cause performance issues. However, I can’t see anything getting anywhere near this for the £11.99 that I originally paid, so I’m extremely happy with the purchase. If anyone is in need of assistance, or has any other questions about this model then ask away in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.
UPDATE: After using the router for a good few months I am still having a few issues with the iPhone, even after dropping the N signal. Admittedly i’ve been using 3G a lot since the initial writing of this review, so haven’t really noticed it. However after a few reports of problems even after disabling ‘N’ I’ve turned WiFi back on the iPhone and it appears still to have the occasional issue with web pages not loading in Safari, or things just randomly not working. While it’s only on occasion (say once every week or so) it’s DAMN ANNOYING so I’ve dropped back to using 3G exclusively on my phone. I’ve reached out to Tenda to see if I can get a reply on a fix for the issue (or if they’re aware of it). I will update again if I hear anything.