A couple of months back I needed to get quick data transfer for video streaming between my Server (in the loft) and my PS3 (in my front room). Wifi was set up and had enough speed but with up to 6 other devices all connected and transferring data there simply was not the bandwidth for HQ video. I had tried to use wifi and it did work wonderfully – when there were no computers on the network. The next logical option was to go hard wired! But running new network cables around the house ended up being costly, timely an ineffective!
I can imagine many people are faced with this problem, or a similar problem and the next best choice is to use PowerLine Ethernet. In theory this sounded fantastic, but I didn’t know anyone with them and was uncertain of how effective they could really be. The only way to know for sure was to buy and test it!
A generic photo of the adaptor that I purchased
I went onto eBay and went for the cheapest PowerLine Ethernet kit I could find that would serve my need. I ended up buying 4 Advent Powerline 200Mbps Ethernet Adaptors for a reasonable £85 (approximately). To me this seemed like a good price, especially as Advent was not one of these unknown companies making the products; with that in mind, I had high expectations of these devices!
When they arrived I quickly got them out the box (sorry know un-boxing videos or photos because at the time I didn’t have this blog :P). There were two identical kits (both with 2 adapters). Each had 2 adaptors, 2 Ethernet cables, the instruction manual (which never left the box :P), the CD with the set-up software and 6 universal adaptors.
The 6 universal adaptors were 2 for the US, 2 for Europe and 2 for the UK; this was quite handy and meant you could use them anywhere in Europe and the USA. The 6 adaptors could slide in and out of the main adaptor and clip in plushly (wow this would be easier to explain with a picture). I hope that made sense.
Setting up was a bit fiddley to begin with but after you get used to it, it seemed to work okay. You needed to install the software on one computer (so a computer is required to set-up – do not buy if you have no computers and just want to share internet to a games console unless you can get hold of a computer to set up) and connected one of the adaptors to the computer and mains. Within the software you then had to give the MAC address and password of another adaptor that you wished to be connected. I would recommend writing this down for each then having all of them plugged in and setting it up like that for 2 reasons:
- It is quicker – You will not have to keep going back and forth to the socket reading the information off and will allow you to set up all the adaptors consecutively.
- It will be more reliable – If you read the info straight from the adaptor then plug it back in the wall and end up clicking “OK” before the adaptor has booted up, the adaptor connected to the computer will not be able to find it and will display an error and make you re-enter the information.
After all of them had been set up, I dotted them around the house in the best locations. One of the adaptors needs to be connected to a router so I popped one with my wireless router, one with my server and one with my PS3 (leaving me with one spare). These adaptors had actually solved another problem in my household; the wireless router is in my parent’s bed room (as it is one of the 3 places in the house with coaxial for my DSL modem and out of the 3 is the most central) and the only way of getting hard wired network in my loft was to run a wire from the cupboard with the router up to the loft. This wire was starting to annoy my parent’s as they could not close their door properly and it was quite an eyesore. By using the adaptor I could use PowerLine to get network up to my loft! Brilliant!
When testing it out the first thing I did was test the connection between my router and loft server. As far as I remember there were a few intermittent problems but after it was working, it remained pretty stable!
I then tested the PS3’s connection to the router; I was able to browse the internet just as I was before on Wifi! 🙂 Oh wait…. I forgot to turn off the Wifi…. I was using Wifi to browse the web! 😛
After eventually setting the PS3 to wired LAN only and configuring all the settings, I tested again and it seemed to work fine! I was able to get onto most websites that I could think of and everything seemed to work well!
Then it was now time for the real test – Video Playback! I was confident when I saw that my Server was showing up on the PS3 as a Media Server just like it would normally and I then navigated to a film which I had ripped off a DVD. It worked amazingly!!! I could fast forward, rewind, jump around the video and actually watch it with no difficulty at all! No stuttering! No freezing! And no audio lag!
Everything was going so well that I thought I would try something I had no idea whether would work, and would have no right to complain if it didn’t! I took the remaining adaptor and my laptop out across the garden and into my garage! I was confident that this would work but i plugged in and what do you know? It worked!!!
Over the following week, I intensely tested this network! Watching film after film, TV programme after TV programme and was shocked when one day… it just stopped working! I had no idea what happened but after inspecting all the adaptors I realised the adaptor at the router (the core of the network) was making a ticking noise! I suspected something was wrong with it and replaced it with the adaptor that was in the garage (that was just connected to my A3 printer). It worked. After testing the other adaptor a few time with a few methods, it was clear it had burnt out!
I carried on using the network it for another week or so and then the same thing happened again! This was the last straw… I contacted the eBayer, sent the item back and got a refund! I was not at all impressed. :@
- Quite simple to set up
- Gets good speeds
- Work great for High Definition video
- Compatible with pretty much any Ethernet device
- They work over quite long distances
- Can get very hot
- Can burn out in extreme temperatures (especially if excessive use)
- Requires a computer for initial set-up
- Can sometimes give intermittent communication problems
- Surge protectors cause allot of interference (I did discover this when testing with my PS3 but I forgot to write about it in the blog 🙂
My overall summary is that the concept is fantastic and definitely works and that these devices are very good for moderate use, but if you need allot of data to e transferred allot of the time, you may want to find a more reliable alternative! I will eventually be buying another brand of these and will test them out and do a full blog like this but with photos and maybe even videos! 🙂