TP-Link's touch-screen P5 router
The body of the router is 280 x 155mm and has a slightly concave surface with a 95 x 55mm touch screen at its centre. The black top surface has a terrazzo effect which, when one looks at it carefully, can be seen to have a large number of ventilation holes. The undersides of the router are similarly well ventilated.
With the exception of the USB 3.0 port accessible from the front all connections and switches are on the rear surface. As well as the three screw-in antennas, there are five Gigabit Ethernet ports – one WAN and four LAN – a USB 2.0 port, power input and switch as well as the recessed reset button. Keyhole slots on the underside allow the unit to be wall mounted instead of sitting on a desk or shelf.
Screwing in the three antennas, connecting the Touch P5 with the provided Ethernet cable to the modem (in my case the OpenReach FTTC unit), and then powering up was straightforward task. Then carrying out the basic configuration of the router via the touchscreen without even bothering to connect a PC was straightforward.
One did not really need to know much more than the username and password supplied by one's ISP as the auto-detect determined the required network protocol settings as one was taken through the necessary stages step by step until the final one was to test whether the broadband was working. I did, however, find that it was easier to use a stylus on the touch screen rather than one's finger.
Having got over the novelty of using the touch screen interface, it was far easier to access the control panel, and the whole range of settings, via a browser. And there are a wide range of options.
These include the ability to use the P5 as a router, repeater or access point; configure both the 2.4 and 5GHz wireless networks, set up parental and ordinary access control as well as QoS to ensure that critical applications such as streaming video will be prioritised.
The dual-band Wi-Fi has a theoretical throughput of 1,300 and 600Mbps for the 5 and 2.4GHz bands respectively and it is claimed that beam-forming technology provides "stronger connection with devices". This should be fast enough for the majority of users.
The two USB ports provide useful additional facilities. A USB printer can be connected to the lower speed port and one can download a printer control utility (either PC or Mac) from the TP-Link web site so that any PC on the network (subject to it having the appropriate printer drivers installed) can access the printer. Similarly, an external hard drive connected to the higher speed USB 3.0 port can be used for backup or streaming.
The idea of setting up the router via an inbuilt touch screen seems ideal and for the person who is migrating from the basic router supplied by their ISP it is, in fact, probably ideal. However, in practice, I found it of limited use and preferred to access the control panel via a browser. Nevertheless, for some tasks, such as using WPS and keying in the associated PIN or turning on/off the guest network it was very convenient. Available on Amazon for £135 it is competitively priced among a plethora of higher performance Wi-Fi routers.
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