I have long been a fan of powerlines/homeplugs. The reason? because I not only find them very easy to set up, they are also a lot less hassle than running Ethernet cables all around my house and it can help to keep my marriage stress free because of this.
Companies such as Devolo and Netgear have been on the forefront of Powerline networking for some time and have been pushing the technology further forward each year by adding features, boosting transfer rates and reducing power consumption. Devolo was one of the first companies I went to when I setup a powerline network at home a number of years ago and it was just as simple as the company told me it would be.
- High transfer rate of up to 500 Mbps
- For all types of bandwidth-intensive transmission
- Transmits multiple HDTV streams and even 3D movies reliably throughout the home
- Full compatibility with all 200AV HomePlug AV adapters
- Best energy saving mode: consumption is only 0. 5 watts in standby mode
- 3 year manufacturer's warranty, as unit is designed, tested and certified in Germany
As I have stated in a previous review of Devolo hardware on Neowin, when I first started to use powerline adapters, the speed was no where near as good as directly running an Ethernet cable to my Mac or PC, but it always seemed more stable than having a old wireless card installed.
Times have changed since then though, both in terms of far greater wireless bandwidth and the speed at which powerline adapters can run at. The dLan 500 AVmini starter kit that we are reviewing here should run at a theoretical 500Mbps, even allowing you to stream HD and 3D around your house if you so wish.
The dLAN 500 AVmini Starter Kit is the latest in Devolo's line and once again in our tests it doesn't quite reach the full 500Mbps but it does manage to maintain a constantly steady and stable speed. At home I have the 100MB Virgin broadband package, though it is rare with a Wireless N connection that you can ever get near that, but with the dLAN 500 AVmini I can come a lot closer to that goal.
Running the same test over and over I was able to get 94Mbps from the full 100Mbps from my broadband connection thanks to the dLAN 500 AVmini while my Wireless N router would get around 75mbs at best most of the time, though this fluctuates depending on conditions. This meant with the Devolo and my 100Mbps broadband connection I would get a speed of around 9.75 MB/sec, while my Wireless N Network and card would get just 7 MB/sec.
Unlike a router, no matter where I place my powerline in the house, the speed and stability never changes, the only issue we get is that they never work quite as well on an extension lead, though the minor drop in performance here is not bad at all.
Streaming music, movies and photos from my Mac directly to my Apple TV was also far smoother and faster than I have ever had on my network before. It made sharing data around my house a much more enjoyable experience. File transfers from my pc to mac ranged from 50 to 57MB although this was also pc dependant. Devolo push the fact that the package is also great for streaming 3D content around the house, though I didn't have any to test out during this review.
Once again the dLAN 500 AVmini kit makes it easy to add security settings to your network thanks to “Push button security” which enables 128-bit AES hardware encryption. More good news for those worried that the hardware will eat away at your electricity bill, it uses just 0.5 watts when in standby mode.
Compatibility between powerline adapters can sometimes be an issue too, though Devolo have made this new kit compatible with their older 200 AV adapters too and we can vouch for that through a number of tests we did around the house.
The dLAN 500 AVmini also comes with a tiny CD, which contains quality of service software that can be used for prioritizing certain types of traffic such as VoIP. But, you don't need to install this as the dLAN 500 works perfectly straight out of the box across all operating systems with no need to muck around with any settings, its just the same as plugging an Ethernet cable directly into your machine.
As always the biggest issue with the dLAN 500 AVmini is the price, it sells at most high street and online stores for £90 and will put people off for that reason alone.
For me personally powerline adapters help get an excellent speed for our network, without having to run wires all around the house and annoying my wife, if this appeals to you then a powerline adapter is the way to go.