1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
Dismiss Notice

Welcome To SNBForums

SNBForums is a community for anyone who wants to learn about or discuss the latest in wireless routers, network storage and the ins and outs of building and maintaining a small network.

If you'd like to post a question, simply register and have at it!

While you're at it, please check out SmallNetBuilder for product reviews and our famous Router Charts, Ranker and plenty more!

Inexpensive but reliable Wi-fi Bridge (non-WDS) options?

Discussion in 'Wireless Buying Advice' started by SemiChemE, Jun 24, 2018.

  1. SemiChemE

    SemiChemE New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    I am in need of a couple of Wi-fi Bridges to link a smartTV and a small home office network located on opposite sides of the ground floor with my wireless router which is setup in a second floor bedroom. My main router is a Netgear R7800 and I get reasonable signal throughout the house.

    I tested the R7800 in bridge mode with the SmartTV (using my old WNDR3700v3 as main router) and it worked great, but at almost $200 a pop, it's way too expensive for me to go out and buy a couple more.

    I also picked up a TP-Link N300 (TL-WR810N), which looked great on paper, but turned out to be a dud. Due to it's size, it was difficult to find a suitable place to plug it in. The integrated power supply would overheat after about 2 hours, causing the unit to freeze up. And, when connected to the smartTV, it would not reconnect after power cycling the TV without power cycling the router, which required physically unplugging/replugging it. The R7800 had none of these issues.

    Ideally, my requirements are as follows:
    1. At least "N-class" speeds (AC preferred)
    2. <$100 (<$50 preferred)
    3. 1 Gbit ethernet port (4 preferred) -- I could probably make due with Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps) if the price is right.
    4. WPA2-PSK (AES) support
    5. Prefer a separate power supply (unlike many range extenders, which plug directly into the wall).
    6. Prefer native Bridge support, but could try DD-WRT/OpenWRT.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Also, if there's an updated version of:

    https://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wir...repeating-part-2-no-wds-required?limitstart=0

    please point me to it!
     
  2. Please support SNBForums! Just click on this link before you buy something from Amazon and we'll get a small commission on anything you buy. Thanks!
  3. System Error Message

    System Error Message Part of the Furniture

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2014
    Messages:
    3,978
    I would not link a smart TV ever, the amount of blunders. Even my oscilloscope networks better than a smartTV as my oscilloscope was developed with proper software and receives updates, the smartTV never actually receives updates or has a very limited lifespan, so i strongly recommend getting a TV box instead and some of those do have wifi. SmartTVs have fallen victim to ransomware, malware and so on with no chance of recovery, basically that firmware it has, theres just no way to update it, fix it or even reinstall it if anything goes wrong.

    if you need to wifi a wired only device, try ethernet first, theres also powerline if signal for wifi is terrible. If wifi signal is good, simply take any wifi router, disable its DHCP, WAN and NAT, connect the wifi to the one you want, attach cables and its all done.
     
  4. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Messages:
    13,601
    You want at least a 2x2 AC (AC1200 or higher class). These days, there are two main approaches to consumer wireless bridges: wireless extenders and bridge mode in routers.

    We haven't reviewed extenders in awhile, but here are our rankings of older products. NETGEAR seems to have the most options. Maybe give the EX6200 a shot.
     
  5. MichaelCG

    MichaelCG Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2017
    Messages:
    481
    Location:
    Central US
    I do agree with most of what SEM just posted....however...I do have mine connected up to my network at times, purely for convenience for casting from my phone usually. The majority of the time, I disable the WiFi and Ethernet port to it though.

    For your original question, the cheapest I found that were usually decently reliable were used Asus RT-N66U or RT-AC66U. They have their own issues, but in bridge mode, they were usually fairly stable. I can usually find them used for around $25.

    If this is just for your TV, I would for sure consider PowerLine devices. They probably won't be sub-$50, but may be an option to investigate. PowerLine is a mixed bag on results....similar to WiFi. Some people have no issues and they work great...others have odd performance challenges.
     
  6. SemiChemE

    SemiChemE New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    I understand that network security is at best an afterthought for most smartTV's, the same is true for many IOT appliances these days. However, if I connect it through an isolated guest-network, is it really such a big deal? Even if it gets hacked, my primary network should still be secure, so what really is at stake? Worst-case, maybe someone hijack's my Netflix account for a few days until I get it straightened out? Or am I overlooking some other vulnerability?

    The TV in question is an old (2012-era) Samsung. It does periodically download an update, so it must have some way to reflash the firmware. It had internal wifi, but that died a few years back. In the meantime, I've been using an XBox360 for streaming, which works fine, but it's just so much more convenient to have everything integrated into a single device with a single remote control.

    Also, I can practically heat my house with the power supply from that old XBOX360! That's fine in the winter, but it's summer now. (Note: I used to work for IBM in the fab that made the chips for the 360, so I guess it's my own dang fault!)
     
  7. SemiChemE

    SemiChemE New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    Thanks Tim, it looks like the EX6200 checks most of the boxes. Wish it were a bit cheaper, but I'll check it out anyway. I also may have found a lead on a used Asus router (RT-66U?) from a coworker.
     
  8. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Messages:
    13,478
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    I would have to agree here - while it's nice to have Netflix/Roku/Hulu/etc support in the TV directly, many of the vendors in the TV space support them for a very limited amount of time, and as such, rarely get security updates - and TV's tend to have a long half-life - e.g. most folks will keep a set around for 5 to 7 years, if not longer barring a hard failure.

    The other concern with Smart TV's is privacy - Samsung and Vizio were both caught red-handed collecting viewer analytics and monetizing them without the customers really being aware of what they were doing (click thru EULA, which most people rarely read).

    Best thing with a SmartTV is just not connect it to the network, period...

    Going with a STB solution (Roku, AppleTV, ChromeCast, android-kodi box) is a better path, as they do get updated more often, and many times, offer more utility and Applications - which over time, is a better place...
     
  9. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Messages:
    13,478
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Interesting read...

    https://www.symantec.com/connect/blogs/how-my-tv-got-infected-ransomware-and-what-you-can-learn-it

    Single Remote - I always liked the Logitech Harmony line of remotes...
     
  10. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Messages:
    13,478
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    That's ok, you're forgiven... I know a couple of other folks that worked on the 360 - talented people all...
     
  11. SemiChemE

    SemiChemE New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    Coming back to bridge mode in routers, is there an easy way to find out which routers support bridge mode? At $40 the Netgear R6300v2 looks pretty attractive, but I don't see any mention of bridge mode in the user guide. I could try DD-WRT and if I brick the router in the process I'm not out much.

    Any other cheap routers I should look into first?
     
  12. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Messages:
    13,478
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Some router/AP's have an explicit mode - that's that - barring that mode, most can be configured otherwise - disable dhcp, connect to the LAN port on it, and you have an AP.

    There's a couple of articles on the main Smallnetbuilder site on how to do it...
     
  13. SemiChemE

    SemiChemE New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    Hold up there, what I'm looking for is called "Bridge Mode" on the Netgear router (R7800) and "Client Mode" on the TP-Link (TL-WR810N) device. I think Asus routers call it "Media Bridge", though I don't actually have one. I've also seen it called a wifi ethernet adapter. Basically, it's a device that connects via ethernet to a wired network and as a client to a remote Wi-fi network to form a bridge between the two networks.

    By contrast, an Access Point (AP) connects via ethernet to a wired network and acts as a Wi-Fi server, thus adding a wireless network to an existing wired network. Remote wifi clients can connect to the Access Point and gain access to the wired network, but there is no way for the Access Point to connect and gain access to a remote wifi network (which is what I need).

    Bridge mode requires the capability to store the SSID and WPA2 Key of the remote network and often includes the ability to scan for such networks. Many low-end routers do not appear to have this capability, although some would seem capable of providing it with alternate firmware, such as DD-WRT or OpenWRT.
     
  14. umarmung

    umarmung Regular Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2018
    Messages:
    191
    All Mikrotik WiFi router devices, which run RouterOS, support station mode, aka. "wireless ethernet bridging"/"client bridge"/"bridge mode" or ambiguously as "wireless bridging". In fact they support multiple station modes, including L2 bridging. They support the same authentication protocols and configurability as access point mode.

    For your purpose, you can get either a Mikrotik hAP ac2 (2x2 802.11ac) or Mikrotik hAP ac lite / hAP ac lite tower (2x2 802.11n, 1x1 802.11ac, Fast Ethernet only). The hAP ac lite variants should certainly be less than $55. If you are very lucky, you may get the feature rich hAP ac2 for a similar price (it cost that on release), but now its likely to cost closer to $70-$80. The wired performance of the hAP ac2 will even beat your Netgear R7800 easily!

    The dark case and LEDs of the hAP ac2 and hAP ac lite tower (TC) better suite homes compared to the white grated case and bright LEDs of most of the other Mikrotik SOHO routers. There is otherwise no functional difference between the hAP ac lite and hAP ac lite tower.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2018
  15. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Regular Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2018
    Messages:
    168
    what, you already have a WNDR3700v3? Try using that. If the stock firmware doesn't support bridge mode (it might!), you can install DDWRT on it.
    https://wiki.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Netgear_WNDR3700

    And if the only device that needs Ethernet is the TV then, yep, you could try powerline! (or powerline plus a cheap Ethernet switch if there are others).
     
  16. Internet Man

    Internet Man Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2017
    Messages:
    277
    I have a R6300v2 running FreshTomato firmware in bridge mode. You could use DD-WRT as well but the stock firmware doesn't support it.

    I believe that most ASUS routers running ASUSWRT support "Media Bridge" mode as seen in this dummy UI page.

    Most other wireless routers do not support non-WDS bridge mode with stock firmware but some do.

    Repeater-type devices and wireless systems with multiple ethernet ports often can serve as bridges.
     
  17. SemiChemE

    SemiChemE New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    The stock WNDR3700v3 firmware supports a WDS bridge mode with WEP encryption, but no WPA2-PSK (AES) support, so I think I'd have to install DD-WRT to get what I want. However, that router has already been deployed elsewhere, so it's not available for this application.
     
Please support SNBForums! Just click on this link before you buy something from Amazon and we'll get a small commission on anything you buy. Thanks!