- Review Price: £72.10
The Piggy6 aims to add a new dimension to your HomePlug AV network by combining a heap of power sockets and three Ethernet ports into a single unit. Traditionally, connecting multiple HomePlug devices to a power strip – and particularly anti-surge equipped ones with EMI/RFI filters – is frowned on as these can affect operations. The Piggy6 neatly overcomes these issues as it filters power itself and also provides anti-surge protection as well.
At their foundation, all HomePlug products aim to provide a discrete way of networking your PCs and that is their key selling point. Essentially, they hitch a ride on your premises’ existing electrical cabling to create an Ethernet network – no fuss and virtually no wires.
They compete strongly with wireless networks and can be a better choice in environments where building structures interfere with reception. Security is also a key feature of HomePlug products as they automatically implement 128-bit AES encryption on all traffic passing between each unit.
The Piggy6 is a porky little unit but it brings home the bacon in the power department as this hexagonal slab of plastic offers six power outlets around its upper surface. Hidden underneath on one edge are three Fast Ethernet ports whilst next door is a bank of status LEDs showing link status for each network port, power and whether a HomePlug network is active.
The LEDs are flanked on either side by reset and security buttons where the latter is used to negotiate encrypted links with other HomePlug compliant devices. If you do need to use the security button make sure you have a paper clip or similarly slim poking implement as the hole is tiny. The network ports are active as long as the Piggy6 is plugged in, and it has a large button on top that controls power to the sockets.
Naturally, to create a HomePlug network you’ll need another compliant device so Solwise provided us with one of its NET-PL-200AV-PUSH adapters (above) which cost less than £40. We mirrored a common scenario where we connected the network port in the single adapter to our Internet router and pushed the Piggy6 out to a separate office where all our systems were.
Installation proved to be very simple as the Piggy6 and the other adapter started talking to each other as soon as they were connected to power. We linked a couple of PCs to the Piggy6 where they picked up IP addresses from the router and we were rewarded with instant Internet access.
Bear in mind the Piggy6 is essentially a dumb unit and, apart from the security button, offers no other user access. Unlike products such as Comtrend’s PowerGrid adapters, you don’t get a web management interface although Solwise offers its HomePlug AV utility which provides a range of configuration options.
From the main page you choose the active network adapter on the PC it’s loaded on and you can change the private network name. This is a fiddle as you need to enter the device’s ID which, in the case of the Piggy6, is on a sticky label underneath the unit. Furthermore, as the utility couldn’t see the Piggy6 we were unable to use it to change these details.
QoS (quality of service) options are provided where you can prioritise Internet or AV traffic. There is another option for VoIP but this was unavailable as according to the utility we needed to apply an upgrade which, at the time, was unavailable.
The Device List shows the HomePlug devices on your network that have the same private network name as the local device but this only identified the single adapter and not the Piggy6. It also shows measured transmit and receive speeds for the selected device but, as we found during testing, those displayed are little more than wishful thinking.
Solwise claims a top speed of 200Mb/sec for its HomePlug AV adapters but, as always, these are unachievable in the real world. We have to question these claims as both the Piggy6 and single adapter only have 100Mb/sec Fast Ethernet ports so how they are supposed to achieve 200Mbps is quite beyond us. To test performance we linked two Windows Vista PCs on each side of our power network. Starting with the Iometer utility, we saw this report raw sequential read and write speeds of 54Mb/sec between the two systems.
Copying a large 2.52GB video clip between them saw real world speeds drop with the HomePlug network returning a top average speed of 43Mb/sec – better than the Comtrend PowerGrid and good enough for general Internet access or media streaming but still well below the claimed top speed.
Speeds also dropped slightly to 40Mb/sec when copying a 450MB folder containing a mixture of smaller files. As mentioned earlier we watched the speeds being reporting by the HomePlug AV utility for the single adapter and it reckoned transmit and receive speeds were between 100-120Mb/sec.
The Piggy6 neatly solves the problems of using surge-protected power strips in a HomePlug network. It delivers on its promises of simple installation and is reasonably priced but, as always, HomePlug fails to deliver in the performance stakes as actual speeds are well below those being claimed.
(centre)”’The bundled setup utility could only see the single test adapter and the displayed speeds are fantastical.”’(/centre)
(centre)”’Two options for applying QoS for different traffic types are provided – the VoIP option wasn’t available.”’(/centre)
(centre)”’In systems with dual network ports you need to select the correct one to see the PowerLine adapters.”’(/centre)
(centre)”’Firmware can be upgraded on the selected adapter but this doesn’t apply to the Piggy6.”’(/centre)
”’Add the adapter’s ID from its label and you can change the private network name – but only for the standard PowerLine adapters and not the Piggy6”’(/centre)
Score in detail
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