The D-Link PowerLine AV500 4-Port Gigabit Switch (DHP-540)

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Never mind computers, storage systems, and printers; the Internet now connects to a growing number of household devices. For instance, DVRs, Blu-ray players, home theater receivers, TVs, game consoles, refrigerators, inflatable clowns — well, maybe not that last one.

But it’s not always convenient to connect devices spread throughout the house. In most homes, the Internet connection enters the building via phone line or cable box that may or may not be located conveniently and network devices tend to be scattered in every room. Entertainment systems may be entirely on the other side of the house. So the million dollar question is how to tie them together into a network without degrading performance.

PowerLine is an excellent option. This technology routes network traffic over your building’s electrical lines, reaching every room that has an electrical outlet. The latest PowerLine equipment delivers speeds up to 500Mbps, which should be more than enough for most applications. For basic PowerLine setup information, see the review of the D-Link PowerLine AV Adapter Starter Kit (DHP-501AV).

When paired with a PowerLine adapter attached to your router, the D-Link PowerLine AV500 4-Port Gigabit Switch (DHP-540) lets you connect up to four wired devices to the network. This is ideal for entertainment systems, since you can connect bandwidth-hungry Ethernet-enabled devices like Boxee Boxes and set-top boxes. It’s a small unit, looking like a lot of other four-port Ethernet switches, and includes an internal power supply.

While the previous generation of PowerLine equipment topped out at 200Mbps, the PowerLine AV500 4-Port Gigabit Switch is more than twice as fast, offering speeds of up to 500Mbps — fast enough to handle multiple HD streams. Network devices connect to the PowerLine AV500 4-Port Gigabit Switch via Gigabit Ethernet, the fastest home-networking standard. Thus, you get the best performance, short of connecting everything directly via gigabit Ethernet, for sharing Internet connections, transferring files, and streaming media.

The PowerLine AV500 4-Port Gigabit Switch supports quality of service, which ensures that the most important network traffic gets enough bandwidth to work properly. Thus you can prioritize, say, voice-over-IP telephony even if the kids are playing a high-bandwidth game upstairs.

There’s also a security button to enable a secure connection to other PowerLine adapters. This is handy if you share an electrical system with other housing units, because it prevents the other tenants from intercepting your information if they also use PowerLine.

In my testing, the unit functioned flawlessly with gigabit Ethernet devices and connected readily to other PowerLine adapters, linking different parts of my network easily and reliably. Connecting is straightforward, and network encryption is easy to set up, requiring only a button press on each PowerLine switch or adapter.

Note that PowerLine devices should be plugged directly into a power outlet rather than into a power strip. For best results, be sure there’s nothing plugged into the other outlet, so other signals passed through the electrical wiring don’t interfere with the network. Home appliances such as refrigerators are a well-known source of such interference. However, during my tests, I observed no drops in network bandwidth when appliances were operating.

The PowerLine AV500 4-Port Gigabit Switch is a convenient way to connect multiple wired devices to a PowerLine network. It requires at least one other PowerLine adapter to connect to, but the process of setting up the network is very straightforward and easy. It vastly simplifies connecting several devices located in one area (say, home entertainment gear in the living room) to devices in other areas of your home (such as computers and printers in a home office) or to the modem itself. Plus it delivers excellent network speeds, all without running new cables.

This story, "The D-Link PowerLine AV500 4-Port Gigabit Switch (DHP-540)" was originally published by BrandPost.

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