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Zyxel PLA5205 Twin Pack review

Kat Orphanides
2 Nov 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
70
inc VAT

High performance HomePlug streaming at a typical price, but the accompanying software isn’t fit for purpose

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Specifications

The Zyxel PLA505 kit is comprised of two HomePlugs that conform to the HomePlug AV2 specification, and have a theoretical maximum throughput of 600Mbit/s. Unlike the Netgear XAVB5201 adaptors, Zyxel’s PLA5205 HomePlugs have Gigabite Ethernet ports to make sure they produce the best possible data transfer speeds. In our tests, the kit achieved a throughput of 140Mbit/s. That's a very quick speed and is more than fast enough for HD video streaming, so you’ll have no problem browsing the web.

Zyxel PLA5205 Twin Pack

This speed was achieved with the adaptors plugged into adjacent sockets, but they’ll run at a reasonable anywhere in a typical flat or three-bedroom house. You can, of course, connect multiple HomePlug AV2 and AV adaptors to the same network, but you'll need to make sure they're all communicating with each other properly.

All you need do to set up the kit is press the Encrypt button found on the right of each HomePlug within two minutes of each other and they’ll pair. To add more adaptors to your network, including compatible models from different manufacturers, you must use a software utility. You’ll also need the new adaptor's password, which is unhelpfully printed on the side facing the wall when the HomePlug’s plugged in, so you should note this down somewhere.

Zyxel PLA5205 Twin Pack

Sadly, Zyxel's PLA Series Configuration tool is among the worst we've ever used. You're confronted with an array of acronyms, MAC address and IP address fields, with no real indication of what to do with them. We also found the manual unhelpful when we tried to connect a third adaptor. You're told to connect your PC to the new adaptor and change its network name to match that of the other adaptors on your network, but misses out the critical step of assigning a shared network name to the original pair of Zyxel PLA5205 adaptors. Not that it mattered because the utility wouldn't let us set the network name for any of our adaptors.

Frustration got the better of us and we used the Atheros Power Packet Utility instead, which is available to download from rival HomePlug maker Solwise's website (www.solwise.co.uk). Using this, we were, after a bit of trial and error, able to add a Netgear HomePlug AV adaptor to our network, as well as the two Zyxel HomePlugs.

Zyxel PLA5205 Twin Pack

This kit costs £70. This is about what you'd expect for a pair of fast HomePlug AV2 adaptors. However, the barely functional configuration app and inaccurate user guide count against it. The TP-Link TL-PA511 AV500 Gigabit Powerline Adaptor Starter Kit is available for a little less and is a better buy.

Details

Rating****
Powerline networking standardHomePlug AV
Homeplug stated speed600Mbit/s
Power consumption active2W
Number of adaptors in box2

Security

Push-button securityyes

Physical

Size82x60x42mm
Ethernet ports2
Number of power sockets0

Buying Information

Price£70
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.box.co.uk
Detailswww.zyxel.co.uk

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