There’s no denying that wireless networks are the best choice for home users and small businesses that want to connect their clients but don’t want a mess of cabling getting in the way. Coverage and performance just keeps getting better with products such as Belkin’s Pre-N routers and PC Cards delivering an impressive showing in our rigorous performance tests.
There are, however, some circumstances where wireless networks are not practical or desirable such as within buildings whose structure severely interferes with reception. Security can also be a concern as although WEP and WPA encryption shuts out most snoopers some companies simply may not want sensitive data broadcast across the airwaves.
The HomePNA specification is one solution which allows networks to be created using standard telephone lines but this has fallen from favour due to poor performance. The Powerline products from Corinex take a different tack as they hitch a ride on your premises existing electrical cabling to create an Ethernet network. Performance is far better than the HomePNA 2.0 specification as Corinex claims its latest products can deliver impressive transfer rates of up to 200Mbit/sec.
On review here is the new AV Powerline Ethernet Adapter which is a sandwich-sized chunk of plastic with a single Fast Ethernet port and a power socket. These units are plugged in next to the device to be networked and the supplied Ethernet cable connects it to the adapter. You just work your way round your home or office plugging these in as required and in theory you should have a virtually wire-free network.
The adapters contain a basic Ethernet bridge and also support the 802.1p specification which allows you to create priority queues for different types of network traffic. Admittedly, home users will be unimpressed but businesses with time sensitive applications such as VoIP or video streaming could find these useful. Physical installation is indeed very simple but it gets more complex from here on as each adapter needs to be configured via its web browser management interface. Caution is advised as the adapters are all shipped with exactly the same default IP address and DHCP switched off so only one adapter at a time should be connected to avoid a conflict.