- IEEE802.3/3u/3x/3ab, HomePlug AV, IEEE 1901
- Ethernet port
- Up to 500Mbps
Mediocre Performance and Premium Price 02/19/2013
This review is from: TRENDnet TPL-402E2K Powerline AV Adapter Kit w/ Pass-through Up to 500Mbps
Initial installation is just plugging them in and they’re up within a few seconds. Internet performance was very close to what I was getting by simply plugging my laptop directly into the Wi-Fi router. Tests conducted at several locations throughout the house (2 –story) maintained virtually the same speed with the worst download test coming back with 16.05 Mbps at the farthest location while the best was 17.36 Mbps over a DSL line rated at 20Mbps. This range is close enough to the 17.82 that I was getting when plugged directly into the router as to not be noticeable for streaming a Netflix movie without any pausing.
The units come with a built in outlet so that you don’t lose an outlet by plugging them in, which may or may not be much of a concern depending on how many outlets you have. Even though the built in outlet is available and has some noise filtering, the manufacturer cautions against plugging in certain appliances which may generate noise or interference.
These devices are IEEE 1901 and HomePlug Av compliant which means that they should be able to be used with other HomePlug compliant devices.
This product is rated at 500Mbps yet the best that it ever recorded according to the supplied monitoring utility was 154Mbps. This is only measuring the speed between the devices, and the Ethernet connection from the first device to the router was rated at a max of 100Mbps and out to the Internet was even slower at a 20Mbps maximum. Overall throughput to the Internet is governed by the slowest part.
If the connection was to an internal networked server then the faster device to device speed could be of use. All Powerline devices advertising 500Mbps are talking about a theoretical possibility that just doesn’t exist in a real world situation.
Once I tried setting up security and changing the SSID is when the problems began. I had the full manual pulled up as a .pdf and went step-by-step and when I reset the SSID and set up a password it worked for a couple of minutes and then it was showing an error that the units could no longer see each other, it was as if their encryption had gotten corrupted. There was no way to correct this problem from the management utility so I hit the reset button on both units to get them back to factory defaults.
Once they were reset they started communicating again, so I tried to change the SSID and password again and both units dropped out of the list of known devices in the panel in the management utility and could no longer be managed and stopped working.
I repeated the reset process and they started communicating using the factory defaults. I was able to use the sync button feature to allow the units to randomly set up a new network name and key. The inability of the management utility to properly manage the devices is a major drawback for a high end kit like these.
Another problem I encountered was when I tried to plug in the power adapter for my laptop and it wouldn’t go in all the way. Rather than trying to jam it in I pulled it out and looked into the slot and saw that there was a piece of plastic blocking the inside of one of the plug slots, probably leftover from the injection molding. I unplugged the device and was able to work this piece of plastic out with a knife, but this kind of thing should not have happened in the first place if more attention were paid to the construction and assembly process. Had I just jammed the plug in when I first noticed the resistance, then it probably would have broken that piece free and pushed down into the plug slot rendering it useless.
These units are high priced yet they didn’t perform any better than a pair of Nano Powerline adapters that I have that are rated at 200Mbps and cost 1/3 of what these adapters cost. Additionally, the lower priced units perform perfectly all of the time.
At this price level there is an expectation that the performance and quality would be higher, though that was not my experience.
The manufacturer said in the included paper guide/manual to not plug these into a power strip, GFI, or surge protector which is common for any Powerline adapter, as they should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. The manufacturer also explicitly stated that these devices are not compatible with AFCI circuit breakers. AFCI circuit breakers were adopted by most State electrical codes by around 2005 and some earlier, so if you have a house that is under 10 years old, then you may have them.
There are many variables in homes and their electrical wiring that can affect how well Powerline adapters may work so it is difficult to know for sure until you actually try them out. The claims of 500Mbps are simply an exaggeration and only theoretical, and for many folks they would see similar performance for Internet browsing and streaming movies if they used a 200Mbps adapter which are available at a fraction of what these units cost.
I would rate these at 2 ½ if that was available, but they get a weak 3. They worked in “bare bones” mode but not well enough to justify their premium price, and the management utility was not able to allow for proper setting up and security management without corrupting them and forcing them to be reset. There are better solutions out there.
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