Netgears Mains Connectivity 

Netgear XAVB5201 Powerline 500Mbps adapter kit provides a viable alternative to wireless or long Ethernet cables for adding an extra device in another part of the house onto one’s network. It is quick and easy to set up and has the speed to meet virtually every need including online gaming or HD TV streaming or even providing a convenient means of connecting a printer, that lacks a wireless connection, connected as one moves it from one room to another around the house.

netgear powerline av500
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All the box contains, and all that is needed, are the two Powerline adapters, two Ethernet cables and two leaflets. In essence all that one has to do is to plug the adapters in: one near one's router and the other one near the computer or other device to be connected, connect the Ethernet cables and you are in business. Hence, it is the ultimate plug and play product. In fact, it is so simple that it is easy to forget to change the default encryption key.

The adapters are white in colour and, unlike many other powerline adapters, are roughly the size of a standard mains plug. Hence, when inserted into a mains double socket they do not overlap so as to prevent the other socket being used.

There are three LEDs: power, Powerline, and Ethernet which are, for the most part, self-explanatory. However, if the power LED is blinking, the adapter is in the process of setting up security while the Powerline LED provides an indication of data rate across the link. If green, it is in excess of 80Mbps, amber, between 50 and 80Mbps and if red it is running at less than 50Mbps. Netgear describes this as the “Pick A Plug” feature. Unfortunately, I have no way of measuring the actual data rate to see whether it reaches the claimed figure.

Netgear states that power strips, surge protectors, UPS and extension cords should not be used as they filter out some or the entire high frequency signal used in powerline communications -- the frequencies being used by XAV5201 are in the range of 2MHz to 68MHz. Despite this caveat, with the two adapters each connected via long mains extension leads (NOT surge protectors or UPS) I still had a green LEDs showing. Hence, the link was operating at a speed in excess of 80Mbps.

Once installed and working, it is important to change the default encryption key which is HomePlugAV. This is a simple task. Just press the Security button on the side of the adapter for 2 or more seconds and then, within 2 minutes, do likewise for the other adapter. This generates a new random key. There is also a Powerline utility which can be downloaded which enables one to set up encryption key of your own choice as well as allocating a name to each adapter.

At present, despite what it says in the leaflet about accessing the on-line user manual, the XAVB5201 appears to be so new that this document has not been prepared and uploaded.

Even if someone is happy with, and regularly uses, wireless around the house, I think that they would appreciate the ease and convenience of use offered by these Powerline adapters. At a list price about £59.00 for a dual pack, but available on Amazon for £46.08 including free delivery, they would make a nice present – even if you have to buy it for yourself.

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