Today, we're looking at the Netgear XAV5101 Powerline Adapter, an earlier entry in the AV500 device class, to see how it fares against some of the newer powerline models.
With the powerline adapters we've reviewed up to this point, we have noticed a trend that individual adapters have a slight model number variance compared to the powerline adapter kits, which include a pair of adapters. Netgear continues that trend with its XAVB5101 Powerline adapter kit. On the company's website, the adapters are listed in the home networking department under the powerline link.
The technical specifications state that the nano-class (more on that later) XAV5101 employs the HomePlug AV standard, rather than HomePlug AV2 like some of the other adapters we've reviewed, but is modeled for use with a GbE adapter for connectivity purposes. The operating range of these adapters is from 2MHz to 80MHz, with data rate claims topping out at 240 Mb/s. When compared to other adapters that we previously tested in our powerline round-up, Netgear's XAV5101 operates with the highest MHz range cap. Power usage while actively transmitting appears to meet the average of its peers, coming in at a reported 4.5W.
On the HomePlug Alliance Certified Products List, Netgear's XAV5101 is easy to find; just apply the HomePlug AV search filter. The product packaging specifies that the kit is HomePlug AV-compliant, and the HomePlug Certification Mark is clearly visible near the package contents list.
While there's a "Push-and-Secure" button on one side to factory-reset the XAV5101, you have to insert a paperclip into the designated hole on the opposite side of each unit.
Netgear's XAV5101 includes an energy savings mode, a Pick-A-Plug feature as well as a number of security options. Through its gigabit Ethernet port, the Netgear XAV5101 enables interoperability with other devices that adhere to the IEEE 802.3 standards.
On the side panel, there's a "Push-and-Secure button" that sets the powerline network password. Communications over the powerline network are then protected via 128-bit AES encryption, which includes key management. Pressing the button on one of the adapters starts a syncing process, during which you have to press the button on the kit's other adapter so it will sync appropriately within five minutes. If you want more granular control over the powerline network membership, you can download Netgear's Powerline Configuration Utility.
Netgear also includes a power-saving mode that cuts the XAV5101's consumption to less than half of one watt. When the Power LED shines amber, it is in power-saving mode. It takes 10 minutes of idle time before the mode is triggered, so you don't have to worry about flip-flopping between active transmitting and standby.
Pick-A-Plug is touted as a way to plug the adapters into different ports for the purpose of determining the best transmission rate. The Powerline LED indicator shines green for link rates above 80 Mb/s, amber for rates in excess of 50 Mb/s but less than 80 Mb/s, and red if the link rate drops below 50 Mb/s.
According to a 2011 press release, Netgear began manufacturing nano-class adapters after recognizing other powerline adapters at the time were large to the point of blocking two outlets. Nano-class adapters are made to avoid this.
Inside the box, you will find two Netgear XAV5101 powerline adapters in a cardboard cutout, two 6.5-foot cables with RJ-45 ends and a quick-start guide. The kit is protected by a one-year hardware warranty.