The TP-Link TL-MR3420 is a 3G/3.75G wireless N router with a pleasant twist – it has an Ethernet port that can connect to your DSL modem, giving you a backup connection to the Internet in the event of a failure.
On the specifications side it has everything you’d expect including 802.11 b/g/n, 802.3/3u and USB 2.0 (for the 3G dongle). Wireless speeds are advertised up to 300Mbps, while security includes the usual suspects WEP and WPA/WPA2.
Setup is quite easy. Simply connect the router to power and a PC and follow the quick setup through the browser-based control centre.
During the setup you can choose to either use only 3G or WAN, or to prefer one and use the other as backup. It’s easy to set up any of those options and equally simple to change later if you add, remove or change a connection method.
It should be noted that WiFi is on by default in the setup options, but without any security. Users should therefore remember to not just click “Next” without reading through the options carefully.
Also, remember to change the router’s default password after the setup as it’s not part of the process. One irritant here is that the password can’t contain special characters other than “-” and “_”.
On a whim, I decided to try setting the router up through my ASUS Transformer over WiFi as the router defaults its wireless to be open. It went just about as smoothly as the setup via PC; although it’s not officially supported, it is entirely possible to do the setup from your mobile device.
The browser-based control centre is split into three columns. The leftmost column has a list of possible options and option menus, the centre column contains the actual settings that can be changed, and the rightmost column contains contextual help based on the current settings page you have selected.
It’s mostly intuitive: things are usually where you expect them to be and if they aren’t, there are only one or two other places you’d need to check before you find it.
Overall, it’s a simple and effective layout that makes setup and administration much easier.
USB dongle support
The MR3420 supports many 3G dongles and should work fine with most of those on offer, though buyers should make sure as there could be one that is not supported.
As advertised, the router worked well with a Huawei E1820 with decent speeds even when signal strength was at a lowly 25%.
In daily use with around six to seven connections (four wired, two or three wireless), the MR3420 performed admirably and kept things running smoothly.
The MR3420 is priced at a competitive R569 (inc. VAT), though this is of course excluding either an ADSL or 3G modem.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a wireless router that can add some redundancy to your Internet connection, the TP-Link TL-MR3420 Wireless N router is definitely one worth considering.