BT Goes Powerline
Developed by BT, the Mini Wi-Fi Home Hotspot 500 product makes use of Powerline technology to provide its network functionality. For the benefit of those not familiar with this technology I should explain that Powerline uses the home’s power lines (hence its name) as the conduit for sending data between locations and devices. This technology gets round the problems that can arise when obstacles block Wi-Fi signals in many homes and also the need to lay further cabling for a wired network.
The BT kit consists of two Powerline adapters and a single Ethernet cable. I was please to note that the design of these adapters placed the Ethernet ports at the top of the device rather than the bottom of these slightly bulky adapters. The positioning of the Ethernet ports means that these adapters could be used on a skirting board without blocking access to the Ethernet ports as often happened with earlier models, from different countries, using this technology.
While more than happy with the positioning of the Ethernet ports, I was less so when it comes to the colour adopted by the adapters. While many devices do suit a black colour, I feel that this particular colour scheme might not be appropriate for many living rooms where one of the adapters will be located. Perhaps the adoption of a more neutral colour would have been a better approach.
Each of the two adapters is cleared labelled to indicate its task once it has been integrated into a home network. The Broadband Extender adapter features clearly labelled LED lights indicating Data, Ethernet and Power activity on its front face. An Ethernet port and Link button sits on top of the adapter.
Entitled Mini Wi-Fi Home Hotspot, the second adapter makes do with a single LED on its front face that will indicate a wireless connection. There are also buttons for WPS/Link and Power. Two Ethernet ports are on the top of the adapter. In addition there is a removable card, containing important information required for a Wi-Fi connection, just above the three-pin arrangement. Both adapters feature a multi-coloured stud decorating their front face.
A folded sheet of illustrated instructions lead you through the setting up of this Powerline kit. The Broadband Extender adapter connects to a router, via the supplied cable, once it has been seated in an available mains power socket. Due to the size of the adapter (65 x 78 x 39mm (W x H x D)), some rearrangement might be required to fit this adapter alongside other plugs. The same problem could exists with the other adapter, slightly larger at 65 x 78 x 49mm (W x H x D), which needs to be positioned near to the device to which it will connect either via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.
Appropriate LEDs will light up to indicate power and Ethernet on the Broadband Extender with power and wireless on the Mini Wi-Fi Home Hotspot adapter. Set up is straightforward with the adapters pre-configured to communicate with each other over a secure link. If you need to, the pull-out card contains the information needed for connecting to the adapter and accessing the Wi-Fi Home Hotspot web interface.
The Home Hotspot adapter supports an optional Wi-Fi cloning feature whereby it can clone the router’s name (SSID) and wireless key. This will enable a device, such as a laptop, configured to connect to the router to automatically connect to the Home Hotspot adapter. To set up this situation, you need to hold down the WPS/Link button on the adapter for at least 15 seconds once you have activated the router’s WPS option. After a length sequence of orange and green flashing from the adapter’s wireless light, it will switch to steady green light to show the process is complete. You can then move the adapter to a location to expand the Wi-Fi range.
As mentioned earlier, the Wi-Fi Home Hotspot adapter features two Ethernet ports. Like the Ethernet port of the Broadband Extender adapter, these ports are rated at 500Mbps. You can use these ports to add devices to the network.
While you might suppose that the theoretical 500Mbps should be available, this would be a pipedream. You and I live in the real world where even a speed of 100Mbps might be considered lucky. As the distance increases between devices, so transmission speed decreases. However, during testing, I was able to watch streaming video transmitted over a distance of 15 metres.
The BT Mini Wi-Fi Home Hotspot 500 Kit is current listed on Amazon.co.uk at a price of £59.00.
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