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Zyxel PLA4205 Starter Kit review

Chris Finnamore
8 Jan 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
58
inc VAT

The fastest Homeplug AV kit we've seen, but you may miss having mains power passthrough plugs

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After seeing 500Mbit/s HomePlug AV adaptors from Netgear, Solwise, Devolo, Edimax and D-Link, we weren't sure what Zyxel's version could bring to the party. The adaptors are neither very compact like the Edimax HP-5001Ks, nor do they have pass-through power sockets like the Solwise NET-PL-500AV-PIGGY adaptors, so you'll take up two full sockets with your network kit.

Zyxel PLA4205 Starter Kit

They are, however, very fast. Once we'd connected them to each other with the normal push-button security method, we saw data throughput at close range at a huge 149.1Mbit/s. This is 10Mbit/s faster than the kit's fastest rivals and is over 50Mbit/s faster than 10/100 Ethernet, so you'll definitely need a gigabit Ethernet network to take advantage of the increased speeds; with a 10/100 switch we couldn't see any faster than 93Mbit/s transfers. At 10m range across a lab with plenty of electrical equipment plugged in, we still saw 51.4Mbit/s, which is comparable to the 500Mbit/s adaptors from rival manufacturers.

The PLA4205 kit comes with a utility to set the network name for the adaptors, so you can connect them to HomePlug AV adaptors from other manufacturers by giving them all the same network name. Unfortunately, while it could see all the HomePlug AV adaptors we had on our network, the utility was unable to set the password for the Zyxel adaptors, just giving us a timeout error each time.

Zyxel PLA4205 Starter Kit

To get things working we changed to the Atheros Power Pack utility, which is a free download from Solwise's support website. This had no problem seeing our adaptors and changing the password on each, and we soon had a network consisting of two PLA4205 adaptors and a 500Mbit/s Solwise NET-PL-500AV-PIGGY - as expected, data transfer speeds dropped to 139.8Mbit/s with the Solwise adaptor, which is the best speed it can manage.

Zyxel's PLA4205 adaptors are the fastest 500Mbit/s powerline plugs we’ve seen yet, and at £58 for two (or £37 for a single adaptor) they're reasonable value. If you have plenty of spare power sockets they're the adaptors to buy, but if you'd like passthrough sockets we'd recommend sacrificing a small amount of speed and going for a pair of Solwise NET-PL-500AV-PIGGY adaptors.

Details

Rating*****
Powerline networking standardHomePlug AV
Homeplug stated speed500Mbit/s
Power consumption active3W
Number of adaptors in box2

Security

Push-button securityyes

Physical

Size95x71x65mm
Ethernet ports2
Number of power sockets0

Buying Information

Price£58
Warrantythree years RTB
Supplierhttp://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop
Detailswww.zyxel.co.uk

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