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ZyXEL 500 Mbps Mini Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter Kit (PLA4201KIT)
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

2 out of 5 eggs ZyXEL 500Mbps Mini Powerline Adapter Kit (PLA4201KIT) 08/11/2014

This review is from: ZyXEL 500 Mbps Mini Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter Kit (PLA4201KIT)

Pros: - PnP
- Consistent
- Low Price on Sale.

Cons: - Slow Transfer Speed (no more than 9Mbits/sec).
- Cannot connect to an unmanaged switch.
- Difficult to link multiple adapters.

Other Thoughts: I was hoping to get some PLA's that actually gave reliable consistent transfers for streaming from a media server to a HDTV without the need to run ethernet lines in a high traffic area. These ZyXEL PLA's were on sale and I have had reasonable results with this brand in the past.

I tried these out by connecting these adapters to the same outlet and testing the maximum possible transfer speed for a large media file. The maximum speed I was able to achieve from one SSD to another SSD through gigabit ethernet cables and SATA III busses was 1.18Mbytes/sec or 9.44Mbits/sec. I connected the PLA's up to various outlets on different circuits (all new 12 ga. romex) and was not able to get a higher transfer speed than the 9.44Mbits/sec from the first test.

I tried transferring MP3 files and achieved a maximum transfer speed that was lower of about 960KBytes/sec or about 7.5Mbits/sec.

I tried transferring mixed files of data (MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint) files and was only able to achieve a maximum transfer rate of approximately 350kBytes/sec or about 2.8Mbits/sec.

Other PLA's that I have tried are able t achieve much higher maximum transfer rates than these ZyXEL PLA's. If you need to transfer a media file or data of any size (like a movie) from one device to another, do NOT buy these adapters. I was very disappointed in the transfer rate of these adapters.

It is possible to stream one media file from a server or HTPC at this rate if it isn't super high quality, 3D, or 4K. Those would exceed the transfer rate of these adapters. The transfer speed was very consistent, even if it was slow.

In conclusion, I cannot recommend these ZyXEL PLA's even when they are on sale. Other PLA's from different manufacturers like TP-Link sell an equivalent PLA for the same money which have higher transfer rates. They may be more inconsistent in terms of transfer speeds but they are faster. If you absolutely cannot get wireless signal to your receiver or cannot use CAT5 or CAT6 ethernet cable to connect your device, these ZyXel PLA's are better than nothing. I gave them 2 eggs because they were easy to connect (truly PnP) and were consistent enough to be able to stream some content from my server to an HDTV without hangups when there was nothing else on the electrical circuit to cause interference. I would have purchased other PLA's if I knew these ZyXEL PLA's were so limited in transfer speed.

None of the PLA's I have tested from any manufacturer have had transfer speeds higher than about 130Mbits/sec total transfer rate even when they have gigabit (T1000) ethernet ports on them. None of the manufacturers I have tested ever come close to the numbers they tout in their ads or on the box. The manufacturers claim that they have these high internal transfer rates between adapters (ZyXel claims 500Mbits/sec) for this adapter, but never achieve anything like the speeds in real life applications.

Seagate Expansion 4TB USB 3.0 3.5
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: more than 1 year

4 out of 5 eggs Seagate Expansion 4TB HDD STBV4000100 08/08/2014

This review is from: Seagate Expansion 4TB USB 3.0 3.5" Desktop External Hard Drive STBV4000100

Pros: - Good Price when On-Sale.
- Reliable.
- Lots of Storage Space.

Cons: - 5900rpm drive is slower than 7200rpm drives.
- Price has Not Dropped in 2 Years.
- Need to Disconnect from Server to Allow Rebooting.

Other Thoughts: I have purchased and installed more than half a dozen of these Seagate 4TB drives and had no failures in more than 2 years of operating in a server environment. The drives are very reliable in raid 0, or 1 configuration. In my experience, they are as reliable as WD Red, WD Black, Toshiba, or HGST HDD's. I have had no complaints about these drives for reliability. I have used these in the stock enclosures and taken the drives out to use them instead of internal drives or in other enclosures. The performance is equivalent in all configurations. These drives go on-sale for US$139 regularly which is US$20-US$40 less than HDD's of equivalent size from other manufacturers.

Given that the reliability is very good, there are some negatives to using these drives in the stock enclosures. I found that, when I connect these drives up to a USB 3.0 hub on my servers, I cannot go through a reboot without disconnecting the HDD from the USB hub. If I disconnect the HDD from the PC or server then do a shutdown or reboot of the computer, the startup/reboot works just fine (This is using a Windows 7 64-bit Pro OS or Windows Home Server 11 OS). If I take the 4TB out of the stock enclosure and install it either in an internal drive bay or other external enclosure (after reformatting the drive), I do not have problems with startup/rebooting the computers. This is a minor problem since I use these on a server that stays operational 24/7 for long periods of time. It would be more of a problem if I used these with a PC that was turned on and off frequently. Going through the expense of purchasing a different enclosure and installing the HDD in those would be unreasonable.

The drive performance in terms of access times, or read/write speeds is not as good as the Seagate, Toshiba, or HGST 7200rpm drives. This is to be expected since the platter speed is 5900rpm. the read/write speeds certainly are fast enough to allow streaming of 5 simultaneous videos without hangup and to stream a video while simultaneously writing media files to the drive at 70Mbytes/sec over a gigabit ethernet connection. Where I do see the difference is when transferring large amounts of data/files between HDD's. In those circumstances the 7200rpm drives are about 30% faster.

The price of these Seagate 4TB HDD's has not gone down in about 2 years. Newegg regularly has them on sale for US$139. Other HDD manufacturers have been lowering their prices gradually in that time to be competitive with the Seagate price. Hopefully, now that 5TB and 6TB HDD's are available, the price for the 4TB HDD will start to come down again.

In conclusion; If you are looking for reliable storage with the best size to price ratio then these Seagate 4TB HDD's are the clear choice. The problems with the stock external enclosure preventing reboot of the computer and the slightly slower read/write speed compared with 7200rpm drives is the reason I deducted an egg from the rating.

Roku 2 XS 1080p HD Streaming Media Player W/ Motion Sensor Control & Angry Birds - 3100X-B
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: more than 1 year

4 out of 5 eggs Refurbished Roku 2 XS Media Player 07/29/2014

This review is from: Roku 2 XS 1080p HD Streaming Media Player W/ Motion Sensor Control & Angry Birds - 3100X-B

Pros: - Easy Installation.
- Refurbished Units Look Brand New.
- Good Price on Refurbished Units.
- Has Plex App to Stream Media Files from you Server/NAS.
- Many Channels to Choose From.

Cons: - Only 2.4GHz WiFi Capability.
- Ethernet Connection is Only T-100 not Gigabit.
- Included Batteries are Dead.
- Need to Sign Up with a Credit Card to Activate Unit.
- Most Channels are Pay Channels.
- Cannot Access OTA Channels for Free.

Other Thoughts: I wrote a pretty scathing review of Roku boxes when I initially purchased one to try. I was unhappy with the lack of ability to access many of the "broadcast station" channels like ABC, CBS, CWTV, or NBC as Roku channels that I could access through the internet. I was also unhappy about the requirement to provide a credit card to activate the Roku device on-line. These are still problems that I do not like about the Roku media player.

Since my initial experiences with Roku, I have had a opportunity to try out the "Smart HDTV's" and other media players. Compared with them, the Roku is very decent. In my experience, Roku has many more channels to choose from and loading access times are good.

I also found and installed the PLEX application which allows me to stream media from my servers to my HDTV's over my gigabit network. Most "Smart HDTV's" are supposed to do that but don't in reality.

I have since purchased several more of the Roku 2 XS units to connect to standard HDTV's because they have much better performance and capability and performance than "Smart HDTV's" which cost many US$100's more for that "smart" capability.

Things I would still like to see with the Roku are a dual WiFi channel (2.4GHz and 5GHz) device and Gigabit ethernet connection. The Roku 3 does have these functions but costs at least 50% more for the refurbished units.

The other think I would like to see is the ability to plug in a wireless keyboard into the Roku unit to be able access the internet and type in search functions rather than have to use the handheld remote. Many of the Android mini's and sticks have this capability which would further extend the ease of use and capabilities of the Roku Units.

Right now, the refurbished Roku 2 XS units are still the least expensive way to get "smart" capabilities with a HDTV. Until "Smart HDTV's" get a LOT better and less expensive, the Roku media player combined with a regular HDTV will be the way to go.


R T.'s Profile

Display Name: R T.

Date Joined: 01/11/12


  • Top 1000 Reviewer
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  • First Review: 01/17/12
  • Last Review: 08/11/14
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