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Devolo dLAN 200 AVsmart+ Starter Kit review

David Ludlow
3 Apr 2010
Devolo dLAN 200 AVsmart+ Starter Kit

This kit is quick, but you pay a lot of money for the LCD screen and you can get better-value pass-through HomePlug AV adaptors

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With the dLAN 200 AVsmart+ Starter Kit Devolo is pushing the limits of what you can add to HomePlug AV adaptors, by putting an LCD screen on each adaptor. The screen is supposed to make networking easier as it shows the connection to strength to other HomePlug adaptors, as well as the connection status to a PC.

It works well enough, but in reality it's not that useful. For starters, the screen is at the bottom of the long adaptor, which has a pass-through power socket. This means that cable of any device you plug in traipses over the screen making it hard to read. It would have been better to invert the plug 180-degrees, so that the screen was at the top; this would also make it possible to plug in the adaptors to power sockets that are close to a desk or the floor.

The information on the screen isn't that helpful anyway. After all, if it tells you there's a weak connection from the adaptor in your office upstairs to the adaptor downstairs, what are you supposed to do about it? Moving the adaptor to another socket with a stronger connection may be possible, but it's unlikely to be convenient - and you could probably work it out yourself with a little trial-and-error.

Ignoring the screen, the dLAN 200 AVsmart+ adaptors are much like any other HomePlug AV adaptors with pass-through power sockets. A button on the bottom lets you encrypt your network easily, although you can use the provided software to manually set a password if you have older adaptors without push-button security. You may also need to update the firmware of older devices to get them to work with these adaptors (firmware for older Devolo adaptors is included on the installation CD).

The adaptors each have a 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet port, and provide a theoretical maximum network bandwidth of 200Mbit/s. In our tests we got throughputs of 74Mbit/s, which is only a touch slower than we'd expect from a 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet network.

With the screen not adding much, the worth of these adaptors comes down to price. Unless you can find this kit a lot cheaper, the Solwise NET-PL-200AV-PIGGY adaptors are a better choice at just £41 each.

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