These compact HomePlug adaptors work well enough, but their high-speed potential is ruined by their slow 10/100 Ethernet ports
The Netgear XAVB5201 HomePlug kit is comprised of two HomePlug adaptors rated with a maximum transfer speed of 500Mbit/s. You can use it to connect a PC, smart TV or other Ethernet-enabled device to your network. As HomePlugs use your electrical mains wiring to transfer data, they’re especially handy if you need to connect a device in an area of your home that your Wi-Fi router doesn’t reach.
Setup is straightforward, you simply need to connect one HomePlug to an Ethernet port on your router and attach the other HomePlug to the Ethernet port of whatever device you want to connect. Ethernet cables are supplied. Once plugged in, the HomePlug adaptors will automatically detect each other and pair.
The adaptors are smaller than most, measuring just 67x55x34mm, so they’re ideal if your mains sockets are located just above your skirting boards, for instance. They’re simple little things, with just three illuminated status indicators on their front and a security button on their left-hand side.
You can view the status of the HomePlug devices on your network with the Powerline Universal Utility or the Netgear Genie application and both are available to download from Netgear’s support pages. The Powerline Universal Utility is likely to be the most useful of the two. It shows you the HomePlugs on your network and their encryption status, and gives you a few simple tools to rename them and create a new encryption key for them to use, if necessary. The Netgear Genie utility has the same capabilities, but they’re buried among a wealth of other features that are only useful if you have a Netgear router as well.
It’s worth noting that many other HomePlugs rated at 500Mbit/s have Gigabit Ethernet ports so that they can make the most of the potentially high transfer speed. However, the HomePlugs in the Netgear XAVB5201 kit only have Fast Ethernet ports, giving them a maximum theoretical throughput of 100Mbit/s. This makes a significant difference to the adaptors’ performance.
In our tests, which are conducted with the HomePlugs in adjacent mains sockets, the XAVB5201 had an average throughput of 83.9Mbit/s. That’s much less than we expect from 500Mbit/s HomePlug adaptors. The similarly priced Zyxel PLA4205 500Mbit/s HomePlug AV kit achieved an average transfer speed of 149.1Mbit/s. Given that the two kits cost the same, there’s no good reason to buy Netgear’s slower kit unless you absolutely require very small homeplug adaptors.
|Powerline networking standard||HomePlug AV|
|Homeplug stated speed||500Mbit/s|
|Power consumption active||3W|
|Number of adaptors in box||2|
|Number of power sockets||0|
|Warranty||one year RTB|