The best powerline networking adaptors

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It’s not just your PCs and laptops that need the Internet at home – nowadays we get online with smartphones, TVs, games consoles and even kitchen appliances. That makes the quality and range of your home wireless network more important than ever, so it’s time to ditch the cheap tat that came free from your broadband provider and get yourself some proper networking equipment. David Bayon, Contributing Editor at PC Pro, runs through what you need to get your home properly connected, and rounds up the best powerline networking adaptors on the market.
ZyXel PLA4201
ZyXel PLA4201

eBay loves: A cheap way to bring a non-Wi-fi device onto your network.
Watch out for: It’s as basic as Powerline adapters come.
RRP: £25
If you just want to connect one faraway device to your router, all you need is a basic pair of adapters such as these. They have one Ethernet port on each plug, and will give you speeds that match or better most Wi-Fi.

BT Wi-Fi Home Hotspot 500

eBay loves: You don’t lose a power socket, and they have built-in Wi-Fi.
Watch out for: They’re not exactly discreet devices.
RRP: £90
BT’s bulky black adapters have pass-through sockets, so they don’t take a wall socket totally out of play. They also have built-in Wi-Fi, so you can create a second wireless zone away from your main router.

Devolo dLAN 500AV

eBay loves: The three Ethernet ports will be handy next to the TV and its set-top boxes.
Watch out for: It’s expensive, so make sure you wouldn’t be better off with a new router.
RRP: £120
If you want a pair of adapters that really offer flexibility, these Devolos have three Ethernet ports on the second adapter as well as Wi-fi capabilities, so you really can create a whole new network away from your router.

What is Powerline Networking?
What if Wi-Fi just won’t cut it? Powerline networking technology sends data across your home’s electrical wiring instead, and can be a workaround for reaching faraway rooms. A standard powerline kit has two adapters and two Ethernet cables: you plug one in by the router and connect it up via one cable, then the other in another room by a device that doesn’t support Wi-Fi, and connect that via cable too. The adapters do the hard work, ensuring the connection is made and data is transferred at the fastest possible speed.

There are different standards, as with Wi-Fi. You can save money with older technology, but the best speeds come from devices that meet the HomePlug AV2 standard. You can also get dearer devices that combine Powerline and wireless networking, so they’re effectively a wired extension and a wireless extender in one brilliant package.


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