D-Link DHP-307AV Powerline AV Network Starter Kit

Powerline (also known as HomePlug) technology allows you to connect networked devices — including network switches — over your home's electrical lines at speeds of up to 200Mbps. This way you can connect computers, game consoles, TVs, media players, and more throughout the house, even if they can't be reached by a traditional wireless network. Powerline gives this great coverage, all without drilling, running wires, or climbing ladders. Also, Powerline technology offers superior security, not found in older routers.

The D-Link DHP-307AV Powerline AV Network Starter Kit contains two Powerline adapters, two network cables, installation software, and documentation. Connecting devices no matter where they're located in your house is as simple as plugging the adapters into electrical outlets and running the installation software on your PC. Be sure to plug each adapter directly into its own outlet. Powerline adapters shouldn't be plugged into a surge suppressor or power strip, and there shouldn't be anything else plugged into the outlet. If you're running a home automation system or something similar that also communicates over the power lines, you should be aware that the two systems can interfere with each other. The Starter Kit includes two Powerline adapters, but you can add further adapters as well; the system supports up to 16 adapters.

Powerline adapters can be easily set to use a 128-bit encryption key, useful in environments such as apartment buildings or other types of shared housing where electrical systems might serve more than one dwelling. Because D-Link Powerline adapters are compatible with power line carrier adapters from various vendors, it would otherwise be possible for another tenant to intercept transmissions intended for your network. Securing your network is as simple as pushing the encryption button on the first adapter, and then pushing it on the second adapter within two minutes. The adapters handle the setup automatically and store the encryption key, remembering it even after they've been unplugged.

The adapters are very clean looking. They feature an unobtrusive button to configure security and a pinhole for inserting a paperclip to activate the reset function. LEDs indicate a power connection, Ethernet connectivity, and power line status. The power line status LED glows green for rates over 80Mbps, amber for 50-80Mbps, and red for less than 50Mbps.

Once the two adapters have been plugged into the wall and connected to devices, software on the included CD-ROM lets you set up the system. The software provides a detailed view of the speeds each adapter is delivering. In addition, it lets you set a password for each adapter as well as custom encryption keys. It also allows you to update the software on each adapter.

Over three days of testing, I found no issues with interference when appliances or other devices were turned on. I was able to consistently achieve speeds of 100Mbps (the limit of the Ethernet devices plugged into the adapters). Plugging the devices into surge protectors or power strips did degrade network performance, though the Powerline adapters still operated at higher speeds than the average Internet connection. I was also able to add additional Powerline devices without any problems, and still get full speeds with the additional adapters. At less than $100, the DHP-307AV is an elegant and inexpensive way to connect computers to your network without running wires.

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld. ]

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