Solwise NET-PL-500AV-PIGGY review
HomePlug AV adaptors with claimed speeds of 500Mbit/s are trickling onto the market. We recently saw the Netgear Powerline AV+ 500 Adapter Kit, which gave us easily the fastest speeds over our mains wiring we'd seen.
Solwise's NET-PL-500AV-PIGGY adaptor doesn’t come in a kit, so you'll need to buy two to make a powerline network. A pair will cost you £68, which is around £55 cheaper than Netgear's 500Mbit/s kit. The adaptors have pass-through mains sockets, so you can plug other electrical items into them, such as a lamp, and avoid taking up too many mains power sockets. This is particularly important as, for best performance, manufacturers recommend you don’t plug powerline adaptors into four-way extension sockets.
Setting the adaptors up is a case of plugging them into your network and pressing the encryption buttons on the bottom of each; this sets up a secure powerline network. The adaptors are compatible with powerline adaptors from other manufacturers, as long as they conform to the HomePlug AV standard. We couldn't get push-button security to work with other manufacturers' adaptors, so used the excellent Power Pack utility from Solwise's website. By plugging each adaptor directly into the PC running Power Pack, you can give each one the same password so they will connect to each other.
Like Netgear's 500Mbit/s adaptors, Solwise's 500AV-PIGGY adaptors are extremely fast. At close range, we managed to transfer files at a huge 139.8Mbit/s, which is even faster than the 133.2Mbit/s we saw from Netgear's kit. You'll need Gigabit Ethernet ports in your PC and a Gigabit Ethernet switch in your router to full take advantage of the adaptors' high speeds. Even when we plugged in the adaptors 10 metres away from each other in our Labs, which at any one time has a large amount of electronic equipment plugged into the power network, we saw 39.7Mbit/s, which is enough to stream HD video.
As the adaptors are backwards-compatible with 200Mbit/s HomePlug AV kit, we plugged a Solwise NET-PL-200AV-PIGGY adaptor into the network to see how it would affect speeds. We could send data from the 200AV-PIGGY to the 500AV-PIGGY at 64.5Mbit/s, which is the kind of speed we expect from a 200Mbit/s HomePlug AV adaptor. However, the presence of the slower adaptor on the network didn't slow down file transfers between the 500Mbit/s plugs, even when the 200AV-PIGGY adaptor was actively pinging a PC on the network. Repeating the test with a 200Mbit/s Devolo HomePlug AV adaptor on the network also didn't have any effect, so you should be able to mix the Solwise 500AV adaptors with HomePlug AV adaptors from other manufacturers without affecting the Solwise adaptors' transfer speeds.
We were impressed with Netgear's AV+ 500 kit, but a pair of Solwise's NET-PL-500AV-PIGGY adaptors is even faster at just over half the price. It's definitely a Best Buy.