Netgear Australia Powerline HD Ethernet Adapters (HDXB101)

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Netgear Australia Powerline HD Ethernet Adapters (HDXB101)
  • Netgear Australia Powerline HD Ethernet Adapters (HDXB101)
  • Netgear Australia Powerline HD Ethernet Adapters (HDXB101)
  • Netgear Australia Powerline HD Ethernet Adapters (HDXB101)
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Very easy installation, its transfer speeds were slightly better than a typical 802.11g network during our tests

Cons

  • The adapters are large and take up too much space

Bottom Line

For desperate and network-less users, Netgear's HDXB101 is a realistic alternative, especially in situations where a wireless network is unreliable. It will deliver enough speed for streaming multimedia applications and it's very easy to set up and use.

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In situations where a router is located too far from another PC to run cables or sustain a strong wireless signal, Netgear's Powerline HD Ethernet Adapters may be a realistic alternative. These adapters can transfer network data over existing electrical wiring.

Two adapters are supplied in the HDXB101 package; one can be plugged into an outlet nearest the router (the local device), while the other can be plugged into an outlet nearest the PC or media streaming device that needs to be networked (the remote device). An Ethernet cable attaches each Powerline HD adapter to their local and remote devices, and the electrical wiring between the outlets is used to transport data between them on the network.

As long as the router's DHCP server is enabled, the remote device will automatically get an IP address assigned to it. The adapters' installation really is straight-forward, but their physical size can make it difficult to find a suitable outlet near the local and remote devices. Because the adapters are so wide, they may block adjacent outlets on the wall. In these instances, power strips with widely spaced outlets may be the only option, even though Netgear says this can degrade network performance.

In our tests, we plugged the local Powerline HD host adapter into a power strip and we didn't experience any ill effects - Netgear's configuration utility reported a 200Mbps connection speed to this device. Our remote device was plugged directly into the wall outlet, but was connected at a slower speed, which fluctuated between 60-70Mbps. Nevertheless, we achieved a file transfer rate of 2.49MBps. The visible distance between our devices was 10m, but the length of cable snaking through the walls to make the connection between the devices, could have been many times greater.

To test a best-case scenario, we connected both adapters to the same power strip, with a physical distance less than 10cm between them. Netgear's configuration utility reported a maximum connection speed of 163Mbps for the remote device and 200Mbps for the host. Theoretically, 163Mbps can supply a transfer rate of up to 20MBps. When we transferred 1024MB worth of data over the two adapters, we achieved an average rate of 3MBps (this translates to 24Mbps), which is more than what a typical 802.11g-based wireless connection can achieve over the same distance. This is adequate for ADSL2+ Internet connectivity or for streaming audio and video files. We tested from different power outlets throughout our dwelling, which garnered similar transfer speeds.

The HDXB101 adapters will only be able to communicate if they are on the same physical circuit. Plugs located on different electrical circuits will not be able to see each other. For apartment dwellers, this means that network data won't be broadcast to any other units. We tested this by plugging the devices into power outlets controlled by two different circuits and we were unable to establish a network connection between them. For extra security, the Netgear configuration utility can assign a unique network ID to the adapters, and each adapter must use the same ID in order to be able to communicate.

For desperate and network-less users, Netgear's HDXB101 is a realistic alternative, especially in situations where a wireless network is unreliable. It will deliver enough speed for streaming multimedia applications and it's very easy to set up and use.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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