D-Link DHP-W306AV PowerLine Wireless N Extender

There are three suitable ways to connect devices to a home or small office network — with cables, wirelessly, and using PowerLine, which routes data signals through a building's electrical wiring. Ethernet cables require drilling holes or running cables along baseboards, and Wi-Fi signals may be problematic, depending on the number and thickness of walls between the wireless router and the devices connected to it. PowerLine, also known as HomePlug, provides speeds of up to 200Mbps, and is less subject to interference. Often, a combination of the three methods results in the best overall performance, depending on the number and types of devices you're connecting.

The D-Link DHP-W306AV PowerLine Wireless N Extender is intended to connect with other PowerLine adapters such as the D-Link DHP-307AV PowerLine AV Starter Kit. Where the DHP-307AV kit consists of two adapters that connect wired Ethernet devices to your network over your home's electrical power lines, the PowerLine Wireless N Extender lets you connect both wired and wireless Ethernet-enabled devices to your network over your home's electrical power lines and Wi-Fi (802.11n). This provides performance sufficient for home entertainment gear including Internet HDTVs, Boxee Boxes, SlingBoxes, and game consoles - not to ignore laptops, PDAs, tablets such as the iPad, and smartphones with 802.11 support.

The extender is unobtrusive, resembling D-Link's usual PowerLine adapters with the addition of dual antennas that hint at the unit's full-featured wireless extender capabilities. The extender gives you the flexibility to extend an existing wireless network with Wireless N as well as PowerLine. In addition, the unit features an 10/100Mbps Ethernet port, an on/off button, a button to start encryption over the PowerLine network, another button to enable joining a Wireless Protected Setup (WPS) network, and status LEDs that indicate the power connection, wireless connectivity, Ethernet connectivity, PowerLine connectivity, and PowerLine/WPS startup.

If you're already using two PowerLine adapters connecting to a router and another device, connecting the DHP-W306AV is simply matter of plugging it into an unused wall socket, turning it on, and pressing the PowerLine ENY button, first on one of the two existing adapters, and then on the DHP-W306AV. The wireless extender can be configured using the included software and a PC connected directly to the Ethernet port.

The 802.11n coverage was quite good throughout the house I tested in. Your mileage may vary, but in my tests, the DHP-W306AV delivered speeds of nearly 70Mbps. The DHP-W306AV can be placed anywhere convenient and connected to the network with another PowerLine module. This allows you to optimize speed by placing the extender close to where you anticipate using wireless devices and away from 2.4GHz cordless phones and appliances that produce a lot of electrical interference.

The DHP-W306AV includes software that quickly guides you through the process and provides easy setup of security to ensure that unauthorized users can't access the network to use your Internet connection or attack your computers.

The configuration software finds the extender and prompts you to name it, set the wireless security mode and key, and choose whether or not to support previous versions of 802.11. You can then set up all the other parameters, such as DHCP support and support for the desired wireless security protocol. All the recent wireless security protocols are supported, and setting them up is easy and well documented.

The DHP-W306AV can bring superior network speed to existing home or office networks. With a street price of less than $85, it is an exceptional value.

See more on the D-Link DHP-307AV PowerLine AV Network Starter Kit. See more on the D-Link DHP-1320 Wireless N PowerLine Router.

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