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Netgear's New LAN Powerline Adapters

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 7 comments

Look ma! No wires! Well, sort of. NETGEAR introduces their Powerline Adapters for HD and Multimedia Streaming without the hassle of degraded wireless performance and most of all, without wires.

Data communications over electrical wires is not really as hot a topic as it used to be, but it seems to be catching on a little more over the past while. Toms has discovered NETGEAR is now offering a Powerline networking solution with increased bandwidth that can accommodate streaming of HD media – giving the user the ability to ‘hard wire’ their media boxes or home theater PCs with much more freedom.

For example, your desktop PC is located in your office at the other end of your house and your media box or home theater PC is located in your main living room of the house where the TV is. Unless you have built the place yourself with wiring in mind, or spent a lot of frustrating hours running network cable through your walls (highly unlikely for most people) you are left with a few annoying options for moving data between the desktop and the media-box/HTPC – Hand bombing it with an external storage device, having CAT5/6 cable strung around your house on the floors, or configuring a wireless networking.

The option of going wireless for some people may be okay, but not for everyone. If you are streaming data to a media-box over the air in your home, and it happens to be high-definition video, forget it – the video will lag or appear choppy. You will also have all the other common issues that affect good signal on a wireless network, such as interference and distance.

The ability to simply run a short patch cord from the back of your media-box or HTPC to the Powerline adapter plugged into the electrical outlet already within reach and then the same on the other side of your home for the desktop PC will save you A LOT of hassle.

Now the question becomes, is this product really necessary? Well, it depends. Do you already have a media-box or Home Theater PC (HTPC)? If you do, and you actually ‘stream’ data that requires a lot of consistent bandwidth, this solution from NETGEAR could be for you. Otherwise, there does not seem to be any reason to ‘jump’ on this technology just yet. Wireless solutions are fine for moving data, or maybe you are just fine with hand-bombing your data around on external drives or flash media.

The biggest ‘pro’ to this solution would be in areas where long distance is involved, or maybe sharing your internet with someone in the same apartment building as you (provided their suite isn’t TOO far away).

There are two kits that NETGEAR currently offers, the Powerline HD Plus Ethernet Adatper Kit (HDXB111) and the Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter Kit (XAVB101) – offering 200Mbps speeds throughout the existing wiring in your home. Aside from the decent amount of bandwidth, the Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter Kit (XAVB101) provides you with 128-bit AES data encryption to ensure privacy and security as well.

Quoting Chris Geiser, NETGEAR’s product line manager for Powerline devices:

The increasing demand for consistent high-speed Internet connectivity throughout the entire home compels networking providers to engineer products that are not only fast and reliable, but also simple to install for the average consumer. Powerline’s ability to use existing wiring supports the distribution of high-quality broadband connection to all areas of the home, even wireless problem areas, enabling customers to enjoy bandwidth intensive applications such as online gaming, audio distribution and HD video streaming, in any room of the house.

More information regarding NETGEAR’s Powerline products can be obtained at the NETGEAR Powerline Web page.

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  • 0 Hide
    batkerson , November 20, 2008 5:00 PM
    Question: I'm interested in Powerline for my home, but am confused about what I actually need, if someone can help. I have cable modem and router, of course. Need to connect 3 computers to router using powerline. Does router have ONE cat-5 connection to the wall "speaking with" three other powerline boxes/computers around my house? Or does router need 3 different connections to the wall? Put another way, do I need four powerline wall connections/appliances or 6?? Thanks.

    b.a.
  • 0 Hide
    Mr_Techman , November 20, 2008 7:15 PM
    You need to think in terms of a transmitter and receiver. The transmitter plugs into a wall outlet (not power strip) with a CAT-5 aka ethernet cable from the transmitter to your router. Then, you can have receivers throughout your house via power outlets providing you with a wired network connection. You connect another CAT-5 cable from the receiver to your computer or game console.

    Most kits will give you a 1 transmitter and 1 receiver. Then additional receivers will be purchased separately. Mind you, the performance depends on distance and the quality of your power lines inside your house. One outlet in a room may perform better than another outlet in the same room.

    I can't remember the limitation of receivers to transmitters. I know in earlier models, it was like 5. It might be more. The technology has been around for 3 years or so. I have the first generation that is rated at 54Mbps. It works pretty well, but no where close to 54Mbps though. It's slightly faster than my wireless.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , November 21, 2008 6:07 AM
    i think what's possible is 4 powerline adapters and you won't be using the router. connect one to your modem then connect 3 to the computers.
    your connection will slow down a lot if all three computers are transmitting data since this will only be one collision domain.
    but that will suffice for sharing internet connections.
  • -1 Hide
    gwolfman , November 21, 2008 1:49 PM
    @Mr_Techman
    apparently you're not so "tech"
    Quote:
    Most kits will give you a 1 transmitter and 1 receiver.
    So I can only download data or upload, not both? How on earth would I browse the web or do "anything" at all if I can only receive data (or only transmit data). Mr_Techman is lame.
  • 0 Hide
    kamkal , November 23, 2008 5:20 PM
    works like this:

    http://www.netgear.com/Products/PowerlineNetworking/PowerlineEthernetAdapters/XAV101.aspx
  • 0 Hide
    kamkal , November 23, 2008 5:25 PM

    the adapters find themselves over the electrical wires in your house and create a "switch" network device similar to a real switch with the only difference being that the ports are located at your electrical outlets



  • 0 Hide
    kamkal , November 23, 2008 5:35 PM
    zodiacfmli think what's possible is 4 powerline adapters and you won't be using the router. connect one to your modem then connect 3 to the computers.your connection will slow down a lot if all three computers are transmitting data since this will only be one collision domain.but that will suffice for sharing internet connections.


    you still require the router

    plugging in the modem to only the powerline adapter is similar to plugging in the modem to a switch only, first computer turned on will grab the ip address from your ISP and the rest will sit with no ip

    it will only work if you have more than 1 ip address available from your ISP, but then your home network is fully viewable by anyone :(