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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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.

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?

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.

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?

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 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!

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 think there is a problem with the article which seriously squews the result in favor of the Devolo kit, it states:-

"Running the same test over and over I was able to get 94MB's out of 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"

94MB's puts it above Gigabit ethernet performance (which would be bloody awesome if true). Can you clarify that you mean 94mbps?

In which case this isnt that good as this puts it around 1.1MB per second, roughly on par with a 100mbps ethernet link and 5 times slower than advertised.

TheBlueRaja said,
I think there is a problem with the article which seriously squews the result in favor of the Devolo kit, it states:-

"Running the same test over and over I was able to get 94MB's out of 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"

94MB's puts it above Gigabit ethernet performance (which would be bloody awesome if true). Can you clarify that you mean 94mbps?

In which case this isnt that good as this puts it around 1.1MB per second, roughly on par with a 100mbps ethernet link and 5 times slower than advertised.

Not sure I made it clear enough so I have adjusted that section. I was basing this on my Virgin 100MB broadband connection speeds over both Devolo and Wireless N - I can get around 9 MB/Sec via the Devolo, but with my Wireless N the signal isn't always perfect and it varies from 6 MB/sec to 8 MB/sec

Hope that explains it a bit more. I'll try to be more detailed when I next cover a newer version of these.

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.

'Downsides: electric bills'
Yet all I see about power in the whole article is 0.5 watts power usage when in standby mode ?

n_K said,
'Downsides: electric bills'
Yet all I see about power in the whole article is 0.5 watts power usage when in standby mode ?

Yea I noticed that as well. I think the reviewer has forgotten to include the running power usage. I think my 200Mpbs ones run at about ~6 Watts so I suppose when you have multiple units in operation, there will be a slight increase in electric bills.

n_K said,
'Downsides: electric bills'
Yet all I see about power in the whole article is 0.5 watts power usage when in standby mode ?

What I meant by that was that an ethernet cable doesn't cause any electric bill, a homeplug/powerline adapter does, so there is a slight cost involved other than the package itself.

Byron_Hinson said,

What I meant by that was that an ethernet cable doesn't cause any electric bill, a homeplug/powerline adapter does, so there is a slight cost involved other than the package itself.

Well if you're going to count that, why not state that wifi cards use a bit of power as well? Both use a relatively insignificant amount.

Byron_Hinson said,

What I meant by that was that an ethernet cable doesn't cause any electric bill, a homeplug/powerline adapter does, so there is a slight cost involved other than the package itself.


Humm depends, I've got an ethernet switch, I guess the powerplugs have the benefit of not needing a switch as they all act together as one. Apparently mine is a 'green energy saving' dlink box, uses 5.8 watts.

Byron_Hinson said,

What I meant by that was that an ethernet cable doesn't cause any electric bill, a homeplug/powerline adapter does, so there is a slight cost involved other than the package itself.

That's fine but you make it sound as if this is specific to that unit alone whereas this is inherent to all PLC adapters so I don't see the point of even mentioning it. Gigabit NICs use power, Wifi uses power I never saw a motherboard review con saying 'NIC uses power'. Actually according to the article one of the key selling points of this model in particular is the low power usage.

Breach said,

That's fine but you make it sound as if this is specific to that unit alone whereas this is inherent to all PLC adapters so I don't see the point of even mentioning it. Gigabit NICs use power, Wifi uses power I never saw a motherboard review con saying 'NIC uses power'. Actually according to the article one of the key selling points of this model in particular is the low power usage.

Oh I agree wi-fi uses power but I was classing this as a seperate plugged-in-wall device rather than one powered via USB. Wi-Fi routers are also only one plug, where as you have to have at least two powerlines plugged in. I'm contacting Devolo to get their exact mesurements for power usage when the devices are in full streaming.

The power usage thing with all networking gear to me is like nothing. For my router it uses 9W I think, at a rate of $0.10/kW i would need to use the router on for 1100hrs or something for my bill to incur 10 cents! Since 1 month has 730hours - for the year, my power bill for my router is $1!!! LOL.

Surely once you add up tons of different stuff then it goes up but basically my power bill for the month (now) is $28. I use about 70-90KW/month. Now if I had kids and a much larger house i'd expect it to be 600KW/month but i think i'm good with my server and other networking gear running 24/7 for now

So yeah, basically running these things i'd never expect it to increase my bill on a monthly basis in the slightest!

the420kid said,
hard to knock wireless with 802.11ac on the horizon.
I disagree. Wireless will always have certain benefits as well as certain disadvantages that will probably never be changed. The number 1 problem that comes to mind for wireless is the overly crowded spectrum. There are so many devices that operate in that space that it's very easy to experience signal interference.

My devolo devices claim to be connected at 180Mbps - but I'm lucky to get faster than 60Mbps out of them. The average I see is more like 40Mbps.

But still, I need the stability that wireless cannot offer, and in rented accommodation I can't go laying cat5

Yeah...these were awesome back in the day, when I lasted moved into a 2 storey place my old netgear units just werent happening...moved to wifi I dont regret it, with 300+mpbs and 2.4 and 5ghz streaming wifi is vastly more viable now. Security wise...hard to beat hardlines but its all comprimise isnt it.

To clarify some parts of the article... 200Mbps EOP devices are more than enough to stream 1080p media.

If your getting this for streaming media just get the $60 200Mbps devices.

Just FYI.

reap3r said,
To clarify some parts of the article... 200Mbps EOP devices are more than enough to stream 1080p media.

If your getting this for streaming media just get the $60 200Mbps devices.

Just FYI.

Sometimes it's nice to have the overhead Maybe incase you are doing a backup AND streaming 1080p or something.

cybertimber2008 said,
Sometimes it's nice to have the overhead Maybe incase you are doing a backup AND streaming 1080p or something.

In my case the so-called 200Mbps adapters barely give me 40Mbps in real world speed which with certain content is not enough. The 500Mbps ones provide at least close to 80-90Mbps.

reap3r said,
To clarify some parts of the article... 200Mbps EOP devices are more than enough to stream 1080p media.

If your getting this for streaming media just get the $60 200Mbps devices.

Just FYI.

Certainly agree a 200Mbps device is likely to satisfy a lot of people. Devolo are pushing this for those streaming 3D around too though.

Ditto, been using these for years as wireless generally sucks by comparison.
And these Devolo ones are very good.

Old houses with bad wiring can cause problems, as do extension/multiple 4-way blocks etc which degrade quality, no different to CAT5 with several connections though.

I have been recommending Ethernet over power for years, its more secure and reliable then "Wireless" with better speeds and less latency. However there is a Caveat with these that seems to be glossed over time and time again, and unfortunately I had to experience. In homes with "poorly" done wiring, these boxes tend to burn out quickly, and there is no way to know before hand that the ****ty contractor who wired your house was a moron before hand. I went through 4 Zyxel and 3 Netgear units over the course of about 9 months before I finally gave up. When they did work they worked well, but sadly my house's poor wiring just burned them out.

Would I use them again? Yes, but not until I move to a "New" home with proper wiring and some kind of "filter" for the outside source to prevent "dirty power" .