Netgear XAVB101 Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter Kit
At a Glance
Netgear's Powerline AV kit puts an ethernet port wherever you have a power outlet. Plug one of the two included adapters into a wall outlet and into your router, and then plug the other one into an outlet next to the remote device you want to connect, such as a game console, a streaming media box, or a printer. They will detect each other within seconds, and you'll be up and running.
To change the default encryption passphrase (recommended if you share electrical circuits with others or are concerned about security), simply press buttons on each adapter within 2 minutes. Data-transfer performance was very good, as the Netgear hardware streamed glitch-free high-definition video from my Slingbox, with sustained throughput of about 60 mbps.
Setup and performance were similar to those of most other HomePlug AV powerline networking kits we tested (such as the Actiontec MegaPlug AV Powerline Gaming Kit HPE200AV and the Linksys PLK300 PowerLine AV Ethernet Adapter Kit), but Netgear added several small but useful features that set its powerline kit apart from the rest.
The basic design is especially convenient, with the ethernet port and encryption button at the side of the adapters, rather than hidden on the bottom (as on most other kits), making them easier to reach. Netgear's excellent software utility has the unique ability to turn off the LEDs on the adapters, a boon in darkened home theaters or bedrooms. The utility can also set specific encryption passphrases.
A firmware update that the push-button encryption setup even easier, by eliminating a step from an already simple procedure. This convenient setup should eventually appear in other kits, too, since all of them are based on the same Intellon chipset.
Our only quibble is that Netgear doesn't make a multiport powerline adapter, which would be ideal for connecting multiple home-theater devices such as game consoles, TiVos, and streaming-media boxes. You can, however, use the Netgear kit in combination with a standard ethernet switch to provide extra ports. If you need only one port, the Netgear kit's extra features and attention to detail make it the clear winner among powerline-based products.