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TP-Link TL-PA4220P Starter Kit review

Andrew Unsworth
24 Aug 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
50
inc VAT

A pair of well-designed adaptors, but the software utility and Fast Ethernet ports let the kit down

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Specifications

Powerline networking standard: HomePlug AV, Stated speed: 500Mbit/s, Adaptors in box: 2

The TP-Link TL-PA4220P Start Kit is a Powerline networking kit comprised of two adaptors, each with two Ethernet ports and a pass-through plug socket. The extra Ethernet ports mean you can connect more than one device to the adaptors and the pass-through socket means you don’t have to lose a mains socket that could be used for your TV, games console or extension bar.

Powerline networking works by routing network traffic through your electrical mains wiring rather than through an Ethernet cable or via Wi-Fi, and it can route the network traffic at a very fast rate. To set up the kit physically, you simply have to plug one adaptor into a mains socket and connect it to your router or ADSL modem with an Ethernet cable, and plug the other adaptor into a mains socket near the device you want to connect to your network, whether that’s a PC, laptop, TV or games console.

As each adaptor has two Ethernet ports you can attach more than device, so you can connect your Smart TV and Sky+ HD box to one adaptor, for instance, and connect your router and a PC to the other. Indeed, kits such as this are perfect for connecting home cinema and media and devices.

The adaptors in the TL-PA4220P Starter Kit are rated at 500Mbit/s, so that is the theoretical speed at which it’ll transmit data through the electrical mains. However, the adaptors’ Ethernet ports are rated at 10/100Mbit/s, so you certainly won’t get 500Mbit/s coming out them. We ran our data transfer benchmarks with the adaptors one metre apart, and saw a result of 90.1Mbit/s, which we expected. This is more than fast enough to stream Full HD movies and music, but it’s highly unlikely anyone will use them at this distance. When tested 10 metres apart, the adaptors produced a data transfer speed of 37.9Mbit/s, which is around the speed we’d expect from a similarly priced router. However, the advantage of using a powerline networking adaptor is the ability to route data to parts of your house where a Wi-Fi signal would be impeded by items such as walls and bulky furniture.

We’ve seen faster results from kits such as the Devolo dLAN 650 Triple+ Starter Kit which transferred data at 167.7Mbit/s next to each other and 50Mbit/s when 10 metres apart. This Devolo kit is more than twice the price of the TL-PA4220P kit, however.

The Devolo kit also has a better utility than the TP-Link TL-PA4220P kit, too. The TP-Link Powerline networking utility looks better than it did in 2013, but it’s very basic and didn’t always work as expected. If we had a laptop plugged into one adaptor, it wouldn’t detect the other one, for example, even though everything was set up and working correctly.

Perhaps the best alternative to the TL-PA4220P kit is a pair of Solwise NET-PL-500AV-PIGGY adaptors (£25 each from www.solwise.co.uk), as the Solwise adaptors have gigabit Ethernet ports for higher throughput. However, the Solwise adaptors transferred data at 39.7Mbit/s when 10 metres apart, which is only a little higher than the TL-PA4220P kit.

Unlike the TL-PA 4220P adaptors, the Solwise adaptors protrude downwards, which could make them difficult to use in mains sockets located just above skirting boards or worktops. You also get fewer Ethernet ports with the Solwise adaptors.

Indeed, we must say that TP-Link has responded well to past feedback and this is reflected in the design of the TL-PA4220P adaptors, which are compact and well-suited to UK households. It’s only the TP-Link Powerline networking utility and the use of Fast Ethernet ports rather than gigabit Ethernet ports that lets the kit down.

If you value speed above all else and are willing to pay for it, you should buy the Devolo dLAN 650 Triple+ Starter Kit, and if you’d rather save a little money you should by a pair of Solwise NET-PL-500AV-PIGGY adaptors. If, however, your budget is strictly limited but you’d still like a multi-port Powerline networking kit, you should buy the TL-PA4220P Starter Kit.

Hardware
Powerline networking standardHomePlug AV
Stated speed500Mbit/s
Adaptors in box2
Push-button securityYes
Ethernet ports2x 10/100Mbit/s, 2x 10/100Mbit/s
Wireless networkingNone
Power sockets2
Size95x58x42mm
Buying information
Price including VAT£56
WarrantyThree-year RTB
Supplierwww.amazon.co.uk
Detailshttp://uk.tp-link.com/
Part codeTL-PA4020PKIT