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Trendnet TEW-820AP Wireless AC Easy-Upgrader review

Tom Morgan
5 Sep 2015
trendnet TEW 820ap
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
25
inc VAT

A cheap way to add 802.11ac to your existing router, but the TEW-820AP isn't particularly quick

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Specifications

Modem: , Wi-Fi standard: , Stated speed: , USB ports: , Wall mountable:

It might be the fastest Wi-Fi standard around, but it’s surprising how few internet service providers have updated their bundled routers with 802.11ac. Trendnet’s TEW-820AP Wireless AC Easy-Upgrader is designed to help, by upgrading your existing home network to the fastest Wi-Fi standard available. It also broadcasts 802.11n in 5GHz mode, so may give your wireless network a boost if your ISP-provided router, such as the Sky Hub, is limited to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi.

The box is powered by microUSB and plugs into your router with an Ethernet cable. By default, it broadcasts in mixed 802.11ac and 802.11n mode under its own SSID. The access point only supports 5GHz, but as your router will still be broadcasting its own Wi-Fi network, any 2.4GHz-only devices, such as older smartphones, can connect to that instead.

The tiny box has no external antennas to boost the signal and only draws a couple of watts from the mains, so we weren't expecting it to be a wireless powerhouse. It has a claimed maximum 433Mbit/s transfer speed, but as it connects to your router over 100Mbit/s Ethernet port anyway, this will be the maximum speed you'd see.

In our testing, the TEW-820AP could only manage 79.6Mbit/s at 10m when transferring files to and from a reference laptop fitted with a USB 802.11ac Wi-Fi adaptor. This dropped even further to 15.6Mbit/s when we moved to 25M away from the router. We're used to seeing well over 200Mbit/s at this distance from high-specification 802.11ac routers, but these are five to 10 times the price of the TEW-820AP.

With an 802.11n laptop in 5GHz mode, we saw 43.8Mbit/s at 10m, but a stronger 22.6Mbit/s at 25m. Again, these scores are far slower than we've seen from dedicated routers, but quicker than we saw from a 2.4GHz 802.11n-only Sky Hub, which could only manage a pitiful 17.2Mbit/s at 10m and 8.5MB/s at 25m when connected to our laptop's USB Wi-Fi adaptor.  

The web-based interface is surprisingly thorough for such a basic device, with plenty of wireless, security and diagnostic settings. It’s here that you can put the TEW-820AP in reverse, using it to turn a wired device into a wireless one; switching into Client mode lets you connect it to an existing wireless network to let you hook up a smart TV, games console or other gadget that lacks built-in Wi-Fi.

Upgrading your existing router’s Wi-Fi is a nice idea, and at £25 there’s no question the TEW-820AP is cheaper than buying an entirely new router capable of 802.11ac. However, it’s barely any faster than a decent 802.11n router. We'd be tempted to save up for an entirely new router such as the TP-Link Archer C9 but if money is tight and you want to keep your current router, it's a reasonable choice. 

HARDWARE
ADSL2+Modem
802.11acWi-Fi standard
2.4GHz, 5GHzBands
480Mbit/sStated speed
WPA2-PSK, WPA2-AESSecurity
Yes or NoUpgradable antenna
1WAN ports
4x 10/100/1000Mbit/sLAN ports
1x USB3USB ports
Yes or noWall mountable
WxDxHSize
SOFTWARE
3Guest networks
DLNAMedia server
Print sharing, NASUSB services
Dyn.org, DNSDynamic.orgDDNS services