Netgear Powerline AV+ 500 Adapter Kit review
Netgear's AV+ 500 is the first HomePlug adapter we’ve seen with a claimed maximum throughput of 500Mbit/s. It's important to note that this figure refers to the total bandwidth shared between all HomePlug adaptors on your entire network as well as the theoretical maximum transfer speed of one adaptor in one direction; uploading and downloading at the same time will split the bandwidth in two. This is in comparison to Gigabit Ethernet, which is full 1,000Mbit/s duplex.
Each of the two adaptors in the kit has a single Gigabit Ethernet port, so unlike Belkin's kit opposite you can’t plug multiple network devices into one adaptor. Netgear's kit will help if you're short of power outlets, thanks to pass-through sockets on each adaptor.
Like most HomePlug kits, Netgear's is easy to set up. You just plug the adaptors into the mains and your network, then press a button on each to make them set up an encrypted link over your home's wiring. We were very impressed with the adaptors' transfer speeds. Although they couldn’t manage anywhere near the theoretical maximum of 500Mbit/s, we saw sustained transfers of 133.2Mbit/s - easily the fastest powerline speeds we've seen, and faster than a 10/100 Ethernet connection; you'll need Gigabit network cards and a Gigabit router to make the most of the adaptors. Depending on your home's wiring, you'll have no problems at all streaming high-definition video or copying large files quickly over the link.
The kit comes with an application which helps you monitor the adaptors on your network. This shows you a clear diagram of how the adaptors are connected, lets you give each an individual name and lets you adjust security settings - so you can set your own adaptor security key to make your network more secure. You can also keep an eye on network bandwidth with Quality of Service (QoS) control - this lets you choose adaptors by MAC address and traffic by port number, and class each as Highest, High, Normal or Low priority, depending on how much of your network bandwidth you want each adaptor or service such as online gaming to use.
The adaptors conform to the HomePlug AV standard, so are backwards-compatible with other HomePlug AV kit. After some fiddling we managed to get them to work with a Solwise PL-200AV-PIGGY_MK2 adaptor. Unfortunately, this affected speeds on the network - when the PL-200AV was plugged in transfer speeds dropped to 81.3Mbit/s, reducing further to 76.7Mbit/s when the PC connected to the PL-200AV was actively pinging our router.
Netgear's Powerline AV+ 500 Adapter Kit has the advantage of pass-through electrical sockets and gives you incredibly fast transfer speeds. It's a very expensive kit, but if you need near-10/100 Ethernet speeds over your home's electrical wiring, this is the HomePlug kit to have.