Home networking is a must have for any modern home. But what do you do if you live in an older home and you don’t want to tear up your walls or have Ethernet cable running all over the place? You have two options. One is to go wireless, but wireless is not very fast so streaming video and other content can cause problems. The other option is to use Netgear’s Powerline adapters.
- Turns any electrical power outlet into a network connection
- Enables high-quality video streaming, gaming and VoIP over a home network
- Delivers up to 200 Mbps to any outlet
- No software required—just plug and play
- Supports up to 16 HDX101 units on one home network
Setting up a network in a home that is not already wired is often difficult. You either need to run wire or setup a wireless network. Running wires can be messy because you either have to go to the effort of drilling holes in your walls and pulling cable or lay the wire on the outside of the walls which can be ugly. Wireless networks are not always the best because they are blocked by other electrical devices and walls, they expose your network to people who may be nearby, and they can be very slow. Powerline network adapters can provide a good alternative, because you don’t have to run wires and you can get speeds that are better than wireless.
Netgear has several different powerline adapters. We will be reviewing the Powerline HD Ethernet Adapter. This line of adapters is capable of transferring data over your outlets at speeds of up to 200 Mbps. There is even a wireless adapter for the Powerline HD, this enables you to use the wireless card on your laptop or computer and the wireless powerline adapters can act line access points.
You can attach up to 16 Powerline HD Ethernet Adapters in a house, which will give you plenty of space to expand your network. If you use the wireless adapters they can act like access points all across your house.
The HDX101 comes with some monitoring software, it is not required for the adapters to work. The software will report all the devices that are installed in your house, let you upgrade the firmware on each device, change device names, and many other things.
The design is very simple. You get a box with a plug on the back and a Ethernet port on the side. The front simply has 3 lights that indicate the status. If all three lights are not on then there is a problem. The large plug design can be a problem because if it is placed in the top plug it will block the bottom plug. Luckily both prongs on the plug are the same size so you can turn it upside down to free up the other outlet.
To test the performance I plugged one into my office and one into an upstairs plug. Because I installed the software I was able to view the connection speed of each device. As you can see from the screen shot, the adapter that was plugged in upstairs was not running at full speed. I can only assume that running through my house causes the signal to lose strength. So to test this theory I plugged it in to a socket that is downstairs but still on a different circuit. As you can see the signal strength was better, but still not full speed. Again, I moved the plug, this time in the same room and the same circuit. The speed got a little better. Last, I moved it to the same plug, still the strength was not full speed. I even tried turning off all the other devices that I had plugged in to that circuit. I did not see any difference in the performance.
My house is only about 7 years old, so I would not say that the wiring is bad or anything. No matter what I tried I could not seem to get the signal to be better. The signal was not perfect, but it was really good. Even the slowest connection speed was better than most wireless connections.
I also noticed that the adapters get hot with use. They will not burn you, but if you handle them soon after unplugging them they will be uncomfortable to the touch.
Warranty and Support
The Netgear HDX101 comes with a 1 year limited liability warranty. This warranty only covers defects in workmanship and not damage that may have been caused in shipping or from misuse. You can find out more about the warranty here. Support for the warranty can be received either online or over the phone. Phone support is only free for 90 days after the purchase of the product. You can learn more about support here.
Overall I was very impressed with how well the HDX101 adapters performed. They have a lot of potential, but there is room for improvement. It would be nice if there was some kind of way to adjust the signal strength or something so you could fine tune it to your home. The adapters only cost about $70 a piece, but you must buy two to get started. Netgear offers a starter package that includes two HDX101 adapters at a slightly discounted price. If you are in need of a network and you don’t want to go wireless I highly recommend that you check this one out. As always compare prices before purchasing.
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