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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
Easy setup process
Range is somewhat limited
Incldued cables are short
The TP-Link TL-WR902AC Travel Router is both versatile and portable. Whether you’re traveling and want more security and privacy than a public Wi-Fi network affords, or you just want to extend your home Wi-Fi network, this humble little gadget can’t be beaten.
When you’re on the road, a fast and safe wireless connection can be a tricky thing to come by. An open network is a vulnerable network, and someone could easily be snooping on you when you log in to the guest network in your hotel to which dozens, perhaps hundreds of people are also connected. That’s where the TP-Link TL-WR902AC Travel Router comes in, offering a private network connection wherever the road takes you.
The TP-Link TL-WR902AC is nothing if not simple in its design. You’ve got two Ethernet ports (one to connect the router to the network, one to connect a device to the router), a USB port, and a power adapter port. There’s a reset button, a switch for selecting one of three different modes, and the device comes packaged with just a short ethernet cable and an equally short power cable.
The short length of these cables is somewhat limiting, so you may want to supply your own. Fortunately, they’re easy and inexpensive accessories to buy. Since power is supplied via a micro-USB port, this router could easily be powered via a portable battery pack, which means you don’t necessarily even need a wall outlet to use it.
The small size and light weight of the TP-Link TL-WR902AC is a definite boon to frequent travelers. It’s so small that it easily fits in my pants pocket, making it diminutive enough to go with you wherever you go and however little you’re able to carry. It seems to be made of quite durable plastic, so you needn’t worry about it breaking en route. The design is fairly bland and utilitarian, with a simple row of indicator lights breaking up its monotonous grey and white surface, but then it's not a category that inspires a lot of dramatic design.
The TP-Link TL-WR902AC works effortlessly as a travel router. It’s basically plug and play, so you just need to plug it into an ethernet port in your hotel room and boom, you’ve got your own private network. It took me less than ten minutes to get it up and running the first time in router mode, and subsequent installations were of truly inconsequential length. It’s only slightly more complex than charging your phone, and the included instructions are straightforward and well laid out.
You just need to plug it into an ethernet port in your hotel room and boom, you’ve got your own private network.
In the Ookla speed tests I ran, the TP-Link TL-WR902AC showed similar results to a standard ISP provided router from Centurylink. I never experienced any issues with speed or reliability when using this router. I also appreciated that this router packs in dual-band capability despite its small size.
Range was just OK, but by no means terrible for such a diminutive device. I was able to use it throughout a medium-sized house and around the yard beyond up to about 100 feet. That range dropped off pretty quickly when obstructions hampered the signal. However, this router is intended for private internet browsing in a hotel, convention center, vacation house, or other remote location where portability and ease of use are more important than range and signal strength.
I was able to use it throughout a medium-sized house and around the yard beyond up to about 100 feet.
Beyond its usefulness as a standalone router, the TP-Link TL-WR902AC can also function in a number of other capacities. It can be set up as a range extender for your existing network, or as a transmitter to add wireless capability to a device designed only to connect to a wired network.
The TP-Link TL-WR902AC doesn’t really have software to speak of beyond the basic backend tools, and that’s just fine. The lack of need for extra software is an indicator of the desirable simplicity of this router.
At only $45, the TP-Link TL-WR902AC is about as cheap as routers come, and is really quite a bargain considering its portability, ease of use, and remarkable versatility. It offers similar performance compared to a basic ISP-provided router, but for less than half the typical price.
It's really quite a bargain considering its portability, ease of use, and remarkable versatility.
If you’re looking for a step up from the TP-Link TL-WR902AC, the Ravpower Filehub AC750 has a built-in battery bank that allows it to operate for a short period of time without being plugged in. It can also be used as a portable battery bank with which to charge your smartphone or other devices. However, it’s more expensive, heavier, and has a more confusing setup process than the TP-Link.
With its strong signal, diminutive size, and affordable price, the TP-Link TL-WR902AC Travel Router is an easy device to recommend.
People typically don’t even think about packing a router in their suitcase, but the TTP-Link TL-WR902AC Travel Router deserves a place in your bag. It’s fast, quick, and easy to set up, and is small enough to fit in your pocket. Whether you’re traveling the globe or expanding your home Wi-Fi network, the TP-Link TL-WR902AC is a capable companion.