NetComm NP200AV

NetComm NP200AV
  • NetComm NP200AV
  • NetComm NP200AV
  • NetComm NP200AV
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Speed, ease of installation and use

Cons

  • Size of the adapters means that adjacent power outlets might not be usable

Bottom Line

For a no-hassle Ethernet network, this kit is ideal. It's very fast and easy to setup. We'd recommended it for anyone who currently has trouble with wireless networking speed and range.

Would you buy this?

Using Ethernet networking to set-up entertainment devices or lounge room PCs can be so much simpler than using a wireless network, but running cables to all areas of the home isn't usually convenient. That's where Ethernet over power line adapters come into the equation, as they use your existing electrical wiring and outlets to send Ethernet data from one device to another.

NetComm's NP200AV Ethernet over power line kit is probably the best on the market for ease of use and speed, and it won't cost you a lot to implement. At $229, it's a neat solution for wiring up a computer system, a home theatre device or a gaming console to your network. Sure, you will need to use one adapter per device on your network, which will end up being much more expensive than implementing a wireless network, but you'll have less problems with signal strength and range and you won't have to struggle with security settings.

Setting up these adapters is a breeze: plug them in, attach one adapter to your router and the other to your client device, and if they can see each other (i.e if they are not plugged into a filtered power board or on separate power circuits), then all the adapters' lights will illuminate while the supplied software interface will show their network speed. The 128-bit AES encryption security setting is transparent to the user, so there's no need to enter passwords or keys; they talk to each other using a private network name, which you can change for all the plugs on your network if you want to. Even the quality of service (QoS) feature is easy to use; just click the icon that relates to the type of data you want the adapters to prioritise.

The adapters have a rated speed of 200Mbps, which translates to 25MBps, but this is a theoretical, rather than practical speed. In reality, you'll get much less, but that's the case with every kit on the market, not just this one. (Don't forget, you'll also be limited to 100Mbps unless you plug the adapters into gigabit-capable devices.) However, the speed of this particular kit was fast: running it from a server to a Netgear Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000, the adapters provided greater than 20Mbps throughput, which is excellent (we usually get reports between 17 and 18Mbps when using a wireless connection). Moreover, in file transfer tests from the server to a notebook computer, the adapters transported data consistently at a rate of 4.6MBps, which is approximately 2MB quicker than we were expecting. With the adapters plugged into the same power board, at a distance of less than 10cm away from each other, the transfer rate was 4.7MBps, which implies that distance didn't bother them too much (at least not over our wiring).

Of course, the way they perform in your environment will differ depending on the quality of your wiring, as well as the distance the signals have to travel, but from our experience, these are much faster than the previous adapter (D-Link's DHP-300) we've seen. They'll rival any good 802.11g-based wireless network for speed, and have further reach, too.

Physically, the adapters are the size of a typical transformer, so you might not be able to plug them into an outlet if there's already an adjacent plug in use. They get noticeably warm while in use, too, so it's probably best to switch them off when you know you won't be using them.

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