Specifications, Features And Accessories
Today we're looking at the Linksys PLEK-500 Powerline adapter kit. Packaged individually, these Powerline adapter model numbers don't have the "K," so if you're looking for the two-piece starter kit, be sure to search for PLEK-500. On Linksys' website, the PLEK-500 is found in its "Wired & Wireless Range Extenders" products section, and is the company's most recent Powerline offering. Interestingly, the branding on our review unit belongs to Cisco, but since Belkin now owns Linksys, I'm sure newer versions will have that removed.
According to Linksys' specifications, this model implements the HomePlug AV2 standard. Though its range isn't published, the number we saw in our HomePlug AV2 Powerline Networking Adapter Round-Up is 300 meters, so we can probably expect similar range in this case. Advertised data rates for this adapter claim up to 500 Mb/s. However, what isn't published is the power consumption or operating range in megahertz. What sparks my interest most is the fact that this Powerline adapter has a grounding pin in the male plug components. According to the HomePlug AV2 specification, that means MIMO can can be utilized.
The Linksys PLE-500 is also absent from the HomePlug Alliance's list of certified products with its HomePlug AV2 filter applied. However, I did find it in the filter list under HomePlug AV. Product packaging labels the PLE-500 kit as a "Powerline HomePlug AV2 Kit," and although the box sports a HomePlug AV Certification Mark, consumers don't really know if these adapters comply with the HomePlug AV2 standard.
This could be due to the HomePlug Alliance website not receiving dynamic updates for product certifications. If not, it shows a loophole in the HomePlug Certification Mark guidelines where product packaging can cite the logo and claim an alternate revision of the standard through a named reference in the product label. Is that what Linksys did here? I doubt it, but the point is that these discrepancies can cause confusion for the consumer. For more details on the HomePlug Certification Mark, check out our discussion of it in our How We Test Powerline Networking Adapters article.
On the side panel, there's a button called the "HomePlug Simple Connect Button," which sets the Powerline network password. Communications in the Powerline network membership are then protected via 128-bit AES encryption, including key management. Pressing the button on one of the adapters starts a syncing period, 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 network membership, you can download the Linksys Powerline Utility, which is discussed in a later section.
Linksys also includes a power-saving mode that you can tell is active when the Power LED flashes at a slow rate. Unfortunately, the consumption numbers aren't published, but it's nice of Linksys to think of our electrical bills.
Note that when you initially pair the adapters, the Power LED flashes at a slow rate at that time as well, but according to the user guide, they're performing the initial pairing.
Inside the box we have the two Powerline adapters in a cardboard cutout, two RJ-45 cables, a quick-start guide and a software utility disc. There's no need to read a manual or instal the software utility; the PLEK-500 is plug-and-play. I think the RJ-45 cables are three-footers, so keep that in mind in case you need longer cables for your adapter placement.