Hardware Review: HP200AV Powerline Internet AV Kit
For one, I am sure many of you have seen some of those ethernet kits that hook up to your electrical outlets throughout your house, using the building’s electrical circuit as a means to transport data to and from the devices. This is one such product, which claims to be able to handle 200Mbps over the lines.
I don’t have a connection anywhere near that (who does?), so I can’t say whether it does or not, however, that’s not the most important thing. What IS important is whether or not it works or is useful. I aim to answer that question.
First of all, I didn’t know the UPS guy dropped it off at my house, so it was sitting out front over night. I guess no thieves patrol my neighborhood (bullcrap, I had two bikes stolen when I was a kid). Anyway, when I brought it in and opened it, they had sent me two boxes (both weighed considerably). At first, I assumed that each was for a different unit, so I unwrapped both, but after opening the first one, I realized that it was an entire kit, and drew the conclusion that the other one was for the giveaway (which we will have available later).
Anyway, after opening the kit, I just kind of sat there, wondering where I could plug it in. The units themselves are pretty bulky, and you have to have one end plugged into the modem and the other in the device you want to connect. I assume that they need to be plugged directly into an outlet and not an extension cord, so I didn’t bother with that. I just had to find a way to get an open plug; one that was near my router as the included ethernet cords are rather short.
To get this out of the way, this is not a wireless device, so devices will be hooked up via ethernet. Anyway, after plugging in the lamp’s cord into one of the two power strips over on the other computer’s desk, I had an open outlet to plug this device into. It does kind of push into the cord for one of the power strips, but it still fits in there. Just don’t expect to have any other boxy devices hooked up to the same group of sockets. It would have also been nice if the plugs had a ground post to them, if only for a more secure connection, as it is heavy enough to feel insecure and would slide out, but I haven’t had a problem like that yet.
I then put the other device a few rooms down where I normally have things connected by a long, 50 foot or so ethernet cable. Since the devices run off of codes that are paired with each other, they instantly recognized the connection. It is very plug-and-play. The only problem is having a collection of devices in your house if you want to have multiple connections. As long as the outlets are on the same circuit (most houses only have one circuit anyway), any outlet in the house can become an ethernet connection.
How well does it work, though? Well, given the plug-and-play nature, setup is easy enough, so you’ll be connected in no time, but if it doesn’t have a solid, stable connection, there is no point in purchasing (or winning) this or other products on the market. I can safely say that it does work, and it works great.
To give you an idea of my home network, I have my modem and two Belkin routers; one really old one and a new one. Of course, the first router I changed the gateway address to something different than the old router (as both use the same IP). On the first router, I have my PC, wireless, and the connection to my second router (which is the 50 foot ethernet cable). On the old router, I have my PC, PS3, and 360 hooked up via an ethernet connection (I only use wireless for the Wii and PSP).
Since I still needed more than one ethernet connection in my room, I decided to connect the powerline kit as a bridge between the old and new router, and it worked perfectly. It doesn’t have its own IP or anything, since it just essentially makes your home circuit a collection of ethernet wires. The connection was pretty much instantaneous.
Having done a speed test before hooking up the device, and then performing another afterward, the speeds were pretty much exactly the same. No drop in quality or anything. And my house was built in the 80s, so this should work for you if you still live in an older house. I don’t think that was my biggest test, though. Not by a long shot.
Yesterday, I folded and decided to pick up Mass Effect 2 off of the PSN. I probably could have saved a bit of money getting it at a retail store, but I couldn’t be bothered. The game is 12GBs, and at my connection, that download was going to take a handful of hours (my PS3 can download a megabyte in about a second or so if no one else is using the internet heavily). During the course of the download, I haven’t had any connection drops or the like. In fact, I was still using my computer while it was downloading as well.
Without any drops in quality or connection, I gotta say, this device works really good. It does come with software, but it is mostly useless and unneeded. I tried just changing the QoS, but got a weird error, so I just passed on it. As long as it works without having to configure anything, don’t worry about the software.
The only thing I don’t know is how using your home’s circuit is going to affect your electric bill. I assume that the data transfer to and from the devices isn’t going to cost anything, but actually powering the devices will. I’m no electrician, but I do have some of the more important specs for you here if things like power consumption are a factor:
- 200 meters
- Power Consumption
- 4.0W, 0.06A; 1.6W in standby (which it will go into if it isn’t connected and only plugged in)
- Power Supply
- AC 100-240V, 50-60Hz
- Operating: 41-113 degrees Fahrenheit
- Non-Operating: -13-158 degrees Fahrenheit
- Operating: 30%-80%
- Non-Operating: 30%-95%
In conclusion, I will say that this device definitely has its uses. One thing you could do, if you have a limited area to which you need to hook up your modem, this is great for those who want to have a wireless router set up in a better location in the house. All you need to do is hook up the modem to one device and the router to another and you’re good to go! I would definitely recommend this, despite the useless software, the bulkiness, and the weight.
If you want to extend your network without laying wires or routing them through the walls (assuming you don’t want a wireless connection), this is definitely a viable way of going about that quickly and easily.
This review is based on a retail copy of the HP200AV Powerline Internet AV Kit provided by Diamond Multimedia.