HomePlug Buyer’s Guide (Part 4) - Solwise NET-PL-1000M-TWIN Gigabit Adaptor Kit, TRENDnet TPL-401E2K & Devolo 1409 Wireless N HomePlug Starter Kit

5/8/2012 9:29:15 AM

Solwise NET-PL-1000M-TWIN Gigabit Adaptor Kit

It’s worth asking if this isn’t something of a Frankenstein technology.

Unlike the other product with the ‘gigabit’ name in this guide, this one is actually capable of a 1Gbps connection throughout the network, which makes it the fastest adaptor on test – at least, in purely theoretical terms. Performance in the real world, of course, will vary.

Every other feature of this adaptor class is ultimately secondary to that. It’s as bog-standard as they come, with no plug-through connector, a single Ethernet port, no wireless or power-saving. You get the sense that LEDs would probably by optional if there were a way to make it so. Still, it’s impossible to argue with the results. A low-cost, potentially very fast network connection.

Description: Solwise NET-PL-1000M-TWIN Gigabit Adaptor Kit

Solwise NET-PL-1000M-TWIN Gigabit Adaptor Kit

The 1Gbps connection is powered by a much-trumpeted ‘MediaXtream’ chip, suggesting some proprietary system at work (HomePlug AV2, let us remind ourselves, is only capable of a 500Mbps connection under normal circumstances), but Solwise does claim compatibility with HomePlug AV devices, which is a plus, although not HomePlug AV2 devices, which seems a little redundant if you were hoping to use it as the basis for a faster network.

Of course, even under the best conditions you won’t get speeds out of this that are comparable to gigabit Ethernet, so it’s worth asking whether this isn’t something of a Frankenstein technology. Sure, it’s nice that it can be done, but should it be?

The fact that it uses non-standard protocols to squeeze out extra network speed means that in a few years it’s probably going to be outdated and overtaken by the official HomePlug standard. In that sense, if you need every ounce of speed in your powerlines being utilised right now, and for some reason can’t use regular Ethernet or a wireless connection, it’s an immediate solution to that dilemma. But in terms of being a good idea for the future, well, not so much.


Price: $75 RRP

Adaptors included: 2

Protocol: HomePlug Gigabit / MediaXtream


Features: 4

Cost: 8

Overall: 5


The stripped-back approach offers immediate results, but don’t start planning a future together



Description: TRENDnet TPL-401E2K


It’s a tough market and there’s no room for even a hint of weakness.

Athough reasonably expensive for an AV2 solution, the TRENDnet TPL-401E2K delivers some of the fastest practical results, although as you might expect by now, it’s typically well short of the 500Mbps advertised.

Beyond that, though, there’s very little special about it. You can expect to find the usual crop of features: a single Ethernet port, hardware security and reset buttons, no pass-through, and indicator LEDs to help you determine the status of the device and its connection. There’s certainly no omission that makes it a good idea to pass over this model in favour of any other (unless you’re looking for a multi-device solution) so in that case, the question becomes ‘why this one over any other?’

And that, sadly, is a harder question to answer in a convincing manner. Indeed, there’s one good reason not to buy this model, and that’s the power-saving feature. It works in the same manner as any of the others (powering down the connection when the computer isn’t using it), but it takes just a fraction too long to spring back into life, and that can mean that your connection will drop entirely for a moment. World-shattering?Hardly. But it’s something it does that others don’t, and it is undeniably inconvenient.

So is that enough to put you off? It probably should be. If you’re angling for the best speeds, there are AV gigabit devices you could use. If you’re after dependable AV2 devices, there are better ones. If you just want a network adaptor that gives you as little hassle as humanly possible, then sorry, this isn’t it. It’s a tough market, and there’s no room for even a hint of weakness. Sorry, but that’s just the way it goes.


Price: $130 RRP

Adaptors included: 2

Protocol: HomePlug AV2


Features: 6

Cost: 7

Overall: 6


It’s not so bad you shouldn’t accept it as a gift, but don’t throw away the receipt until you’ve tried it out…


Devolo 1409 Wireless N HomePlug Starter Kit

Description: Devolo 1409 Wireless N HomePlug Starter Kit

Devolo 1409 Wireless N HomePlug Starter Kit

There’s no danger of anyone hijacking your connection when you’re not using it.

Ethernet-based HomePlug might be cheap, but if you’re trying to reduce the number of wires and cables in your home, they’re far from ideal. Instead of relying on Ethernet sockets, the adaptors of the Devolo 1409 kit each feature a built-in wireless access point, which allows you to take advantage of the freedom of wireless networking without any of the range problems.

If you do want the security of a cabled connection, or you want to use a device that doesn’t support Wi-fi, then you’re still well-catered for – the adaptors each have the Ethernet ports, allowing you to connect several wired devices in addition to any wireless ones you might want.

Wired connection speeds are a standard HomePlug AV connection (200Mbps) but on full wireless mode, this can be increased to 300Mbps. The antennas are integrated and compact, and wireless can be switched on and off using a physical button or through the use of a software timer, so there’s no danger of anyone hijacking your connection while you’re not using it.

The package includes two adaptors and two network cables, so while it’s geared towards multi-device setups, you’ll need to pay a little more on top of the already hefty cost, if only for extra cabling. With an RRP of almost $150, this might seem a little unfair, but the range of features is such that you’re already getting an excellent bargain.

If you already have several devices in the house that need network access (i.e. laptops, games consoles), are planning to add some in the future, or you already own devices that don’t have Ethernet support (smartphones, tablets), then the Devolo 1409 kit has comprehensive technology support and is built to accommodate expanding networks. Costly, perhaps, but it’s worth the investment.


Price: $150 RRP

Adaptors included: 2

Protocol: HomePlug AV / wi-fi


Features: 9

Cost: 7

Overall: 9


Perfect for large or complicated networks – as long as you can afford it

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