Super-fast mains networking
Powerline network adapters such as this kit are great if wireless networks don't work well in your home.
Plug one adapter into the mains and connect it to your router and you can then connect any networkable device to your network by plugging in another adapter and connecting it to the device. Netgear's Powerline 500 AV adapter kit (model XAVB5001) has a theoretical speed of 500Mbits/sec, more than twice the speed of existing devices.
The kit comprises two identical adapters, two network cables and a CD containing manuals and software. A printed installation guide explains how to get started and has a key to the three small status lights on top of the adapters which show whether they are connected successfully. Different colours indicate the connection speed. Beneath each adapter is a network socket – although devices can connect to this at 1000Mbits/sec, confusingly this is faster than the speed of the powerline connections.
Although they will work perfectly (at a slower speed) with existing Homeplug AV products, they are not compatible with older Homeplug 1.0 (85Mbits/sec) devices, or with powerline devices that use the competing, older UPA/DS2 standard. As with all powerline products, actual data transfer was nowhere near as fast as the claimed speeds. In our tests we saw real transfer speeds of around 96Mbits/sec, which is around double the 40-50Mbits/sec we have seen from Homeplug AV adapters.
The maximum achievable speed depends on the quality of the mains wiring and whether there is any distortion from other electrical equipment. The bundled software gives a useful graphical overview of how the adapters are connected, and the speed of the connection between them.
This is great for troubleshooting and the software also configures the security settings and turns the lights on or off.
The AV 500 adapters are well made, and the software is a useful bonus (you don't need the software to use the adapters). Those who are converts to the convenience of powerline networking will appreciate the impressive speed boost they offer, and for anyone thinking about giving it a try they are a great first choice.
CORRECTION (APRIL 7, 2011): This article initially (incorrectly) gave the product a score of one star, when it should have been five. Apologies for any confusion caused.
Read more reviews
One of the fastest powerline networking adapters we've seen, and it is well-suited to video streaming or connecting network hard disks
Fast; well made; handy software utility
Quite wide; small status lights; short network cables supplied
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