Review

Review: Devolo dLAN 500 AVmini - Starter Kit

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.

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Actually the problem here is that you are saying these can do ~720mbps (94MB's) when in fact they are only giving you ~94mbps which is way below the advertised speed of 500mbps. Virgin broadband is only 100megabits (100mbps) not megaBYTES (MBps) which is 8 times faster. Your confusing Mb with MB and making it seem like these are really fast.

A 200mbps AV adapter would do the same job - for less.

TheBlueRaja said,
Actually the problem here is that you are saying these can do ~720mbps (94MB's) when in fact they are only giving you ~94mbps which is way below the advertised speed of 500mbps. Virgin broadband is only 100megabits (100mbps) not megaBYTES (MBps) which is 8 times faster. Your confusing Mb with MB and making it seem like these are really fast.

A 200mbps AV adapter would do the same job - for less.

I'm talking about my broadband speed. The devolo gets the full speed of my connection from it. Direct pc to pc transfer speeds are far higher. I'll post some later

As a footnote, people use these to connect Home Servers to Playstations etc, or LAN PC to LAN PC as well as getting the most out of their BB connections.

If i bought a 500mbps peice of kit and only got around 100mbps id be seriously dissapointed when there is lower rated kit out there that could do more.

The review just seems wrong, the speeds are awful that you report.

Did your try LAN to LAN file transfer for a true speed test?

TheBlueRaja said,
As a footnote, people use these to connect Home Servers to Playstations etc, or LAN PC to LAN PC as well as getting the most out of their BB connections.

If i bought a 500mbps peice of kit and only got around 100mbps id be seriously dissapointed when there is lower rated kit out there that could do more.

The review just seems wrong, the speeds are awful that you report.

Did your try LAN to LAN file transfer for a true speed test?

Yes as said in the review. As it stated I was talking about broadband speed in that section. Not streaming etc or file transfer

I had around 57mb via the power line pc to pc file transfer

Byron_Hinson said,

Yes as said in the review. As it stated I was talking about broadband speed in that section. Not streaming etc or file transfer

I had around 57mb via the power line pc to pc file transfer

Im sorry im not trying to pick your review apart but its lacking vital information to gauge the performace of the kit. Testing it against your BB speed which is 5 times slower is like saying a Wireless N router is brilliant because i can get full speed out of my Wireless G adapter.

Also 57mb is even worse, unless you mean 57MB in which case its much better and more akin to what we should expect from this kit.

This is what shows the difference between this kit and a 200mbps network adapter and should have been prominent in the review and specifically used to gauge whether these are any good or not.

Do you see what im saying?

Please be careful when using mb and MB they mean totally different things and your review is not clear.

Byron_Hinson said,

Yes as said in the review. As it stated I was talking about broadband speed in that section. Not streaming etc or file transfer

I had around 57mb via the power line pc to pc file transfer


Your confusion between MB and Mb, combined with testing a 500Mb/s device over your 100Mb line has pretty much discredited this entire review, and yourself.

Memnochxx said,

Your confusion between MB and Mb, combined with testing a 500Mb/s device over your 100Mb line has pretty much discredited this entire review, and yourself.

Im trying to help him but even after he updated the review its still wrong as it reads:

Running the same test over and over I was able to get 94MB's from the full 100MB

It should read :-

Running the same test over and over I was able to get 94Mbps from the full 100Mbps

He's telling us its 8 times faster than it really is (his broadband AND the speed he gets over the devices when using it)

Then he needs to update the section below with LAN tests to see how fast these things actually are.

Memnochxx said,

Your confusion between MB and Mb, combined with testing a 500Mb/s device over your 100Mb line has pretty much discredited this entire review, and yourself.

There is no confusion. I couldnt update the article. Hopefully it is clearer now. Thanks for the support though.

Byron_Hinson said,

There is no confusion. I couldnt update the article. Hopefully it is clearer now. Thanks for the support though.

The confusion stems from either ignorance or an inability to express yourself. In either case, don't try to act like it didn't happen. The original article and the comments in this line have demonstrated that fact. Although the article may now be correct (and only because your repeated errors were corrected by others), originally you frequently used mixed or wrong units and included a test of broadband speed which is completely irrelevant.

TheBlueRaja said,

Im sorry im not trying to pick your review apart but its lacking vital information to gauge the performace of the kit. Testing it against your BB speed which is 5 times slower is like saying a Wireless N router is brilliant because i can get full speed out of my Wireless G adapter.

Also 57mb is even worse, unless you mean 57MB in which case its much better and more akin to what we should expect from this kit.

This is what shows the difference between this kit and a 200mbps network adapter and should have been prominent in the review and specifically used to gauge whether these are any good or not.

Do you see what im saying?

Please be careful when using mb and MB they mean totally different things and your review is not clear.

Yeah it was more an issue with capitilisation but hopefully clearer and thanks for the reports that helped clear it up. Have to say no one else mentioned it once which makes me hope people understood what I was trying to say!

Memnochxx said,

The confusion stems from either ignorance or an inability to express yourself. In either case, don't try to act like it didn't happen. The original article and the comments in this line have demonstrated that fact. Although the article may now be correct (and only because your repeated errors were corrected by others), originally you frequently used mixed or wrong units and included a test of broadband speed which is completely irrelevant.

So test of broadband speed over Wireless N and Powerlines is irrelevent despite showing that our Wireless N network doesn't show off the full speed of our broadband network yet the Powerline does. Ok then - glad you cleared that part up though.

Again thanks to TheBlueRaja for reporting the details that helped clear things up.

Byron_Hinson said,

So test of broadband speed over Wireless N and Powerlines is irrelevent despite showing that our Wireless N network doesn't show off the full speed of our broadband network yet the Powerline does.
Yeah, it is. If I'm buying a device rated at 500Mb/s, and you show me a test that it can do 100Mb/s - how does that help me? Most people don't even have a 100Mb/s line - so their broadband speeds would be covered by Wifi-N and not improved in the least by this device.

Nice to see this tech get reviewed.

I got 6 eBuyer extra value 200Mbps adapters over a year ago and I couldn't be happier. They cost ~£35 for a pair at the time and are still going strong. They allow us to stream HD content around the place and to use roaming Win XP profiles and documents. The speeds do vary, especially when all 6 are in operation but compared to the unreliable wireless we have, it was one of the best buys of the year.

I don't think these 500Mbps plugs are good value at ~£90 for a pair, but I'm sure the price will drop soon enough. I remember when the 200Mbps were that price not so long ago.

I got so frustrated with wireless that I got a netgear 500mb powerline adapter (one end is a gigabit 4 port switch which is great).

It worked as soon as i turned it on, I've had 100% consistent and very fast connection for the year I've been using it. Wireless is great for phones (obviously!) and laptops, but I will never use it for desktops again.

Martin5000 said,
I got so frustrated with wireless that I got a netgear 500mb powerline adapter (one end is a gigabit 4 port switch which is great).

It worked as soon as i turned it on, I've had 100% consistent and very fast connection for the year I've been using it. Wireless is great for phones (obviously!) and laptops, but I will never use it for desktops again.

Got to say from a personal view I agree with you. I would love to have a fully ethernet wired house and if we ever rewire I'll make sure I do!

So... this just plugs into any outlet in the house? Its a normal 3 pronged input into the socket in the wall then?

este said,
So... this just plugs into any outlet in the house? Its a normal 3 pronged input into the socket in the wall then?

UK one is three pronged - unsure about US - but I'll assume two

este said,
So... this just plugs into any outlet in the house? Its a normal 3 pronged input into the socket in the wall then?

Yes.

I like Homeplug devices, but some guy I work with keeps saying that they're due to be banned in the UK because of some kind of transmissions ban or something.

I'm assuming he's talking through his rear?

I don't trust them. A friend at work was remoting onto his server at home and it suddenly cut out and he needed something off the server so he drove home to fix it. found out one of these LAN over power things had burt out and was slowly melting away. I'm sure if he hadn't of gone home as quick as he did it would of done some serious damage. although his house is old so I'm guessing the wiring isn't the best.

do these have some type of power protection between them and the outlet, like i have between my computer and the wall outlet so they dont get fried in a surge? also for those that still dont like being connected by wire, couldnt you just run one of these to a room where you get poor signal from your main wireless router and add an access point to it for that room?

In my experience, Ethernet over Powerline devices always overstate the theoretical throughput. I own similar 500Mbps Homeplug devices (different brand though), as well as the older 85Mbps versions, and get roughly 1/5 of the rated throughput on both of them - 100Mbps on a 500Mbps device, 15-20Mbps on my 85Mbps versions. And I believe the devices can be hampered by certain circuit breakers. In fact my 500Mbps device gets only around 50+Mbps in one corner of my apartment.

I guess they just like to use the raw data rate for marketing - similar to Wifi, powerline is a noisy medium thus there is significant encoding overhead. You don't get 300Mbps of throughput on 802.11n as well.

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