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Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter Kit (XAVB101)

Which Networking Technology Is Right For Your Home?
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As mentioned earlier, you might not have coax or Ethernet in your walls, and you might have wireless dead spots throughout your house, but odds are good that you’ve got at least one electrical outlet in every room. A powerline networking kit takes an incoming Ethernet connection and, using a “wall wart” adapter, converts the data feed into a modulated carrier signal that runs throughout the power wiring network. Another wall wart on the receiving end converts the signal back for passing on to the network switch or other LAN devices. Essentially, powerline kits are fancy Ethernet extension cables.

Netgear’s Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter Kit advertises 200 Mb/s bandwidth, but the HomePlug AV spec on which the product is based tops out with a theoretical rate of 189 Mb/s. As we all know, theoretical specs are essentially useless, and if there’s any doubt on this point, know that the Ethernet port on these adapters is 10/100, not gigabit. The point is that Netgear rates the kit as being “fast enough to stream HD video.” That sounds like one stream, but we’ll see how things shake out. Perhaps we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

To set up the XAVB101, you simply plug one adapter into a wall outlet and then connect it to the router/switch. Next, plug the other one into the outlet closest to your target device (PC, game console, etc.) and connect the target. The two wall warts will associate within a few seconds, and that’s that. If you want to encrypt the connection between the two, press the security button on the wart’s right edge, above the RJ45 jack, and the pair will protect all transmissions with 128-bit AES encryption.

You can tweak the kit slightly by using Netgear’s bundled utility. For instance, you can apply a passphrase for the AES encryption. You can also turn off the LED data rate indicators. We had no trouble with range when testing the powerline gear, and Netgear rates if for homes of up to 5,000 square feet.

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