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Devolo dLAN AV Wireless G Starter Kit review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £135
inc VAT

Devolo’s dLAN AV Wireless G Starter Kit combines HomePlug AV, 10/100 Ethernet and 802.11b/g interfaces, although you’ll still need a cable or ADSL modem to provide an internet connection.

This kit could be useful if you need to create a wireless network some distance from your modem or router.

When you plug in the power supply on the extender, it forms one half of a HomePlug network, which can transmit data using your home’s electrical wiring. The included HomePlug AV adaptor forms the other half and has a Ethernet port. The manual recommends connecting this to your broadband modem. The extender can then share your internet connection with numerous wired or wireless devices.

Your new HomePlug network will be unencrypted when first set up. If you live in a building with shared wiring, other HomePlug users in the vicinity could gain access to it. Securing a HomePlug connection is easy, though. Just press the encryption buttons on the base of the adaptor and the back of the extender. This will create an encrypted network connection without any further hassle.

The accompanying CD includes handy setup software, with installers for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X systems. The configuration wizard lets you assign a password to your HomePlug devices. This is set up automatically for any HomePlug device that is directly connected to the PC with the software installed on it, but you must enter a 16-digit identifier code from any other Devolo HomePlug devices you’re using. Once we’d done this, the devices connected with no problems.

Configuring the extender’s wireless network settings is less straightforward, as there’s no software tool, so you must use its web interface. We had to trawl through the manual on the CD to find its IP address, which should have been on a sticker. The interface is poorly designed, but covers all the essential wireless settings. It discourages users from changing these, but they will be familiar to anyone who has delved into a router’s configuration pages. You can change the extender’s IP address, SSID display name, password and encryption standard, and specify devices by MAC address that can connect to your network.

HomePlug performance was mediocre at 32.7Mbit/s, and WiFi transfers compared poorly with the speeds we’re used to seeing from the Draft-N kit now available. The extender managed just 21.4Mbit/s at 1m and 19.1Mbit/s at 10m.

With such unimpressive results, this kit is impossible to recommend, even if you’re desperate for wireless and HomePlug networking. For a more versatile HomePlug network, with faster performance, get SMC’s SMC7904WBRA-N bundle and a pair of D-Link’s DHP-301 HomePlug adaptors for a combined price of £128 including VAT.

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