Hindsight is always better than foresight.  One of those niceties I should have known to look for when buying a house was an ease-of-updating feature.  Case in point: my house does not lend itself to running new wiring or cables, as it has finished drywall ceilings in the lower level.  I should have known the need for Ethernet wiring long before the term “home networking” was coined, and looked for a home with an easier ability to upgrade the wiring.  Yeah, right…

Oh well, there is a reason why wifi is a big deal for many homes.  As in “Where no man hath gone before”…  Wireless is great if you can plug the adapter into your device.  If you have the appropriate drivers.  If you choose the “right” router that can seen anywhere in your home.  And so on.  For the most part, wifi does work quite well for what I would term “simple” networking.

In my education at WGS, I have been introduced to many devices that require a wired connection to allow it to be configured for wireless access.  Which is part of the reason I have a switch in my home office.  WHS and NAS devices are often headless, and either do not recommend a wifi connection or have limited support for wifi adapters.

If the device is portable, wifi is all important.  If a device is not designed to be portable, a wired connection is always going to be the better option.  As the general population begins to introduce more Ethernet-enabled devices (TV, multimedia devices, etc.) into their home, the greater the need for wired connections due to increased bandwidth needs and the inherent reliability of a wired connection.

You might ask, where am I going with all this BS?  Well, in order to

  • review certain items such as networked multimedia devices
  • plug-in my network-ready Blu-ray player

I needed a wired connection to a point in the house that would be quite expensive to run wiring.  So my search for a powerline kit began.

It would be nice if I could get a gigabit powerline adapter.  I have been trying for months to get one to review, without success.  The next best type are the 200Mbps versions, which is really all I need, as my router is “only” 100Mbps capable and I have had no problems with bandwidth at that speed.  So far…

Quite often, I usually end up going to Newegg to narrow down the possible options, once I decide on the type of computer item I am looking for.  They certainly do not have everything, just enough to make finding what you need usually quite easy.  Anyway, I went straight to the powerline section and began looking at the various options.

The result?

A Linksys PLK300 Powerline AV Network Kit.  $120 and several days later, I had one in my possession. The question is: did I make a good choice?

The Unboxing

The day arrived and I opened up the shipping box to get to my new toy.  Excited, yes.  Apprehensive, yes.  Why, you might ask?  Even though I get stuff to review (occasionally), a review item

  • is not mine.  So I have no pressure as to whether I purchased the best item.
  • is all work and no play.  OK, a bit of play, also!
  • if it does not work (or work well), no big deal as I did not pay for it

So, I am excited because it is something I *wanted*.  Something I *needed*.  Something I could *almost* justify to that person who controls the purse strings.

The pictures:

pl-1 pl-2 pl-3 pl-4 pl-5 pl-6

Dang, everything seems to be that highly polished black plastic that is so darn difficult to take pictures of.  Anyway, that is all there is, 2 “boxes” and 2 sets of cables/wires and the obligatory QIG and CD.  I have no idea what is on the CD, as I never popped it in the DVD drive.  The one important piece of information that I gleaned from the QIG is that powerline adapters “like” to be plugged directly into the wall socket.  No power strip for these devices!

The Specifications

Tech Specs

  • Model: PLK300
  • Standards: HomePlug AV, IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3u
  • Ports:
    PLE300: Power, Ethernet
    PLS300: Power, Ethernet 1-4
  • Buttons:
    PLE300: Reset, HomePlug Simple Connect Button
    PLS300: Reset, HomePlug Simple Connect Button
  • LEDs:
    PLE300: Power, Powerline, Ethernet
    PLS300: Power, Powerline, Ethernet 1-4
  • Cabling Type: RJ-45, Power
  • Security features: 128-bit AES Link Encryption
  • Security key bits: 128

Key Features

  • Works with HomePlug AV enabled devices
  • Enable data transfering through exisiting power line
  • Up to 200Mbps transfer rate at physical layer
  • 128-bit AES Encryption with Key Management
  • Supports 1024/256/64/16/8-QAM, QPSK, BPSK and ROBO modulation schemes
  • Supports TCP/IP, compatible with standard routers and networked devices
  • Integrated Quality of Service (QoS) Enhancements: contention-free access, four- level priority based contention access, and multi segment bursting
  • TDMA and priority based CSMA/CA channel access schemes maximize eiciency and throughput
  • Built-in 4 Ethernet ports of PLS300 provide connection to up to 4 devices

Installation

Installation is ridiculously simple.

  • Plug an Ethernet cable between the “sender” and a router/switch.  Plug the power cable between the “sender” and a wall plug.
  • Plug an Ethernet cable between the “receiver” and your device you wish to network.  Plug the power cable between the “receiver” and a wall plug.

That’s it!  No more, no less.  For me, the device was a QNAP NMP-1000 I was reviewing.  I turned it on; I went to my workstation; I searched for the NMP-1000; I configured the NMP-1000; I began my NMP-1000 review.

In the pictures above, you will notice that the adapters are installed in stands that vertically orient the devices.  You do not have to use them, however, the stands do have rubber feet that lessen any slippage problems and reduces the footprint of the adapters.  Smaller footprint equals easier to hide.

And for anyone is interested, the following is a diagram of  my current home network showing how the PLK300 has been integrated into it.  Like anything else, the network grows as needed in a hodge-podge kind of pattern.

jc_network-2

The NMP-1000 and the IP cameras (review items) will disappear soon, which will make my little network a bit more manageable.  It is interesting to note that the number of “appliances” far exceeds the number of physical computers at this time.

Bench Marks

Sorry, no networking benchies on this one.  It works, quite well actually.  I have no need to test how fast the connection is.  I can stream all sorts of media through the switch, and hook up multiple devices. As a consumer (not a reviewer), what more do I need to know?

Conclusion

It is said that powerline adapters are dependent upon the house wiring, and the pathway the signals have to take to get from one point to another.  I am 110% positive that the wiring went through my breaker box, which is supposed to have a detrimental effect on the signal.  My home is 20 years old, so the wiring is modern which is a plus for powerline adapters.

The end result is that the PLK300 powerline kit worked perfectly.  For me, at least.  Over several days of playing with the NMP-1000, I never had a problem with network glitches.  Whether watching movies, listening to music, etc., I never had a stutter or similar glitch.

In the pictures above, you may notice that the receiver has four Ethernet ports.  As a result, you can use this receiver to hook up four devices.  While I am writing this up, I have the NMP-1000 and a D-Link DCS-1100 IP camera plugged in the PLK300 receiver.  I have plugged in but not tried out my LG BD300 Blu-ray player yet, but I do have a 30-day free Netflix offer to take advantage of.

And the final plus for this device is that it is easily moved.  My wife likes to rearrange the living room, kind of on the same cycle as the seasons.  The PLK300 will move easily to wherever the TV goes.

You might say “Your mileage will vary” regarding a powerline adapter.  My answer to that is you can say the exact same thing about a wifi router.  If you need wired access in an area that precludes a direct cabled connection, here is a great solution, IMHO!

If you need a device like this, just get it!

More info: Linksys | PLK300

Cost: $149.99 MSRP
           $119.99 (Newegg)

I did a search on Amazon.co.uk and found only the older 85Mbps item for about £61.