2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fair to set up but then flawless in use,
This review is from: Netgear 200Mbps Homeplug Powerline Adapter Kit (Accessory)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What do you do when you need access to your home network - or internet - when your PC and router are rooms away and the wireless signal is weak at best? You buy a HomePlug kit, of course. HomePlug is an agreed standard (of sorts) for connecting networked devices through the electrical wiring in your home, effectively using your home's power wiring as integrated network cabling. It's a fiendishly simple principle that, I'm sure, must be more difficult to get right in practice, but a number of manufacturers are making HomePlug-compatible kits now, Netgear being one of them.
The Powerline AV+ 200 is a simple kit comprising two HomePlug adaptors and two 1.5 metre-long Ethernet cables. The adaptors are fairly chunky, white boxes with three green LEDs on the front - one to show that the power is on, one to indicate an active Ethernet connection, and one to confirm that the HomePlug network is functioning. Nicely, both adaptors have an electrical pass-through socket on the front, so they won't actually take up any of your home power sockets - you can plug almost any electrical devices into them, although you are aarned not to plug in major home appliances, so there must be a limit on how much they can handle. The only other items of note are 'security' and 'reset' buttons on the bottom, the latter being recessed and quite awkward to get to when the adaptor is plugged in.
Getting the HomePlug network running at first appears no more difficult than plugging one of the adaptors into a home power socket next to your router and then connecting it to your router using one of the included Ethernet cables, then plugging the other adaptor into a power socket next to your PC and connecting said PC to that adaptor with the other Ethernet cable. You then switch on both adaptors and wait for something to happen. I say 'something' because the manual isn't overly clear on exactly what is supposed to happen (or pretty much anything else, come to think of it.) There's no single 'to do' list to get you up-and-running, just a table of the LED descriptions, what they do, and a brief indication on some of them as to how they should be used. There's also a diagram showing you how things connect, but no clear list of instructions; I'll admit that anyone with an ounce of sense will guess what goes where, but a numbered list would still have been nice.
The manual does indicate that you need to press the 'security' button on the bottom of each adaptor once both are switched on and are communicating with each other, indicated by the 'network' LEDs blinking. I assume that enabling the security scrambles the communications between the HomePlug adaptors so that other houses with HomePlugs can't link to yours through the mains electrical service that you're all connected to, in which case security would seem to be quite important. I waited a good 10 minutes and neither LED blinked, so I went ahead and pressed the buttons anyway. But because there's no indicator light on the adaptors to tell you that the security is working, to this day I'm not sure that I've set it up correctly - would the HomePlug network even function without it? The manual states that a blinking power LED indicates that the adaptor is in the process of starting security, but I never saw that either. In fact, the LEDs all came on almost straight away, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. It doesn't help that the adaptors are in different rooms, half the house away (as they would be), so running between them to check was a bit of a chore.
Security or not, once all the LEDs were lit the connection between the adaptors was exceptionally solid; in fact, not once have I had a drop or an obvious fluctuation in the signal strength or quality. My house is around 10 years old, so the wiring is fairly new, and I was therefore expecting a pretty fast connection rate between my PC and my Gigabit router. Using the included Ethernet cables, and TotuSoft's LAN Speed Test Lite program to send packet files across my network, I got an average upload speed of about 28Mbps and a download speed of 34Mbps or thereabouts. Compare that to 18 / 21 using a Wireless `g' dongle, and 40 / 40 with a Wireless `n' dongle, and the Netgear compares quite well. Against a direct Gigabit Ethernet connection (246 / 575) and it doesn't, but that's to be expected. I'm not sure what category the included cables are, but it may be that full-fat Cat6 cabling would produce even better speeds.
I'm pretty paranoid about network security so not having complete faith that my HomePlug network was secure did sour my early experience a little. I feel that Netgear could improve the manual, and maybe add some reassurance to the adaptor that the security if working properly - wireless routers have an LED to indicate that WiFi security is on, so why not this? Maybe I'm just missing the obvious, and other reviewers don't seem overly concerned, but the thought of an insecure network does give me the shivers, however unlikely it might be that my data could be seen by others.
If you have a good router (particularly a Wireless 'n' model), a WiFi-equipped PC and a solid wireless connection, then the HomePlug may not be of much use to you. But if you struggle to get a wireless signal, because of the size or the construction of your home, I would recommend the AV+ as a good alternative. The one caveat here is that, if you live in an older house then the electrical wiring, if it's as old, might not be up to the task of feeding through a signal that's steady and strong enough for HomePlug to work as well as you'd like. Overall, the biggest compliment I can pay to the AV+ is that, if I hadn't installed it myself, I wouldn't even have been aware that my PC was on anything other than an ordinary Ethernet network, and that's no mean feat.