Although wireless technologies have revolutionised the way in which we transfer data, there are still times when a wired connection can come in handy, providing a more stable and often faster connection. Obviously rewiring a whole house so that you can have a fully wired network is out of the question for most people and this where Powerline adaptors come in. Powerline adaptors use your existing electrical wiring at a different frequency to allow data to run alongside the "electricity supply". This reduces the rewiring of the house to simply plugging two devices into plug sockets (one next to your router and the other where you want an Internet or network connection). Currently the cheapest (cost-wise) on the UK market are the TP-Link TL-PA211 Powerline twin pack (catchy name huh!) and we had to get our hands on them to see how they shape up.
Specifications (taken from TP-Link):
|Standards and Protocols||HomePlug AV, IEEE802.3, IEEE802.3u|
|Interface||10/100Mbps Ethernet Port|
|Plug Type||EU, US, UK, AU|
|LED Indicator||PWR, PLC, ETH|
|Dimensions ( W x D x H )||3.6 x 2.2 x 1.2 in.(93×56×30 mm)|
|Power Consumption||< 3 W|
|Range||300m in house|
|Advanced Functions||Build-In QoS Feature,
Intelligent Channel Adaptation
|Encryption||128-bit AES Encryption|
|Certification||CE, FCC, RoHS|
|Package Contents||Powerline Ethernet Adapter x 2,
Ethernet cable (RJ45) x 2,
Quick Installation Guide
|System Requirements||Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista, Windows 7, Mac, Linux|
|Environment||Operating Temperature: 0℃~40℃ (32℉~104℉)
Storage Temperature: -40℃~70℃ (-40℉~158℉)
Operating Humidity: 10%~90% non-condensing
Storage Humidity: 5%~90% non-condensing
The TP-Link TL-PA211KIT comes in a small box with each Powerline adaptor about twice the size of a normal UK plug, two RJ45 cables, a quick setup guide and a mini CD (support software). Each adaptor has an ethernet port and a small button to allow pairing of the devices. Setup is really simple (once you get your head around it - it helps to read the setup guide first!), simply requiring an adaptor to be plugged in next to and connected to your router via one of the supplied RJ45 cables. The next step is to plugin the other Powerline adaptor where you want it (or simply next to the other one when you are setting up) and essentially pushing the buttons consecutively on each adaptor so that they recognise and pair to each other. Once this is done, you're all set the adaptors remember the settings and can transfer data between them. We also tested them in conjunction with another brand of similar specification Powerline adaptors and they happily connected to these as well, showing them to be cross compatible with other brands. We even tried them plugged in to extension leads (non-surge protected) and they worked just as efficiently.
In testing the TP-Link TL-PA211KIT adaptors performed well and although they don't offer quite the same performance as a true hard wired network, the performance was certainly good enough for HD video streaming over the home network, and certainly good enough for gaming and general internet browsing. The build quality is fine (strong plastic casing) and the adaptor has the usual LED indicators to display connection status and usage. The only slight downside to them is the lack of a passthrough function meaning they do take up a plug socket, although this shouldn't be a problem if you have enough plug sockets free.
£29.99 (at the time of writing) from Amazon.
4.5/5 - The TP-Link TL-PA211 Powerline twin pack really does provide a simple, cheap and efficient way of "wiring" your home network and at the current price it is unmissable if you need to extend your network!
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