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First Look: D-Link network adapter

Are parts of your home no-go zones for WiFi signal? We tried D-Link’s latest Powerline kit, to discover whether it can eliminate these frustrating black spots while maintaining fast internet speeds.

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Most people enjoy wireless networking in their homes. But obstructions such as furniture and walls can create areas where WiFi can't reach. That's where EoP networking comes to the rescue.

What is EoP?

Known as ethernet over power (EoP), this networking uses your home electrical wiring to create a network. Adapters are plugged into standard home power sockets, and use electrical wiring in the home to transfer data between each other, turning the electrical wiring between them into a network cable. Other network adapters can be plugged into power sockets throughout the home and devices can then be connected to the adapters with ethernet cables.

It may seem similar to WiFi, but it’s not. However, you can connect a WiFi adapter to a PowerLine adapter. This means you can use PowerLine in black spots in your home where WiFi can’t reach, and then set up a WiFi adapter at the end of the PowerLine network.

While the technology has been in use for some years, performance has been less than stellar because using electrical wires for network traffic limits speed. This latest generation of super-fast gigabit adapters aims to solve this problem.

Performance

We tried out D-Link's latest-generation PowerLine AV2 2000 kit. The kit has two adapters ─ one for connecting to your modem or router via ethernet cable, and the other for connecting to a device or WiFi adapter via ethernet cable. Each adapter plugs into different power sockets and the electrical cabling between becomes a network.

Speed

The claimed maximum speed is 2000Mbps, but as with all claimed networking speeds, they're the theoretical limits. Real world networking speeds are always far less.

In our trial, we measured data transfer speeds and found the kit is actually very speedy, with transfer rates of up to 288Mbps (which is enough to stream multiple HD videos simultaneously and is even capable of streaming 4K content.)

A few things to note

Both adapters should ideally be on the same power circuit in the home and the adapters should plug directly into a wall socket (though we tested on a non-surge protected power board and it worked fine). If unplugged and moved they don’t need to be re-paired, so you can easily relocate them. Also, you can add up to 16 adapters and they’re backwards compatible with most earlier PowerLine AV and AV500 devices.

Verdict

We found the D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 adapters easy to install, just plug them in and press a button on each adapter to pair them. The performance was a pleasant surprise. The only downside is the price — but if you have frustrating WiFi black spots in your home, these units may be well worth it.

Essential specs

  • Kit price: $250
  • Gigabit LAN port (compatible with fibre)
  • Easy connect button
  • Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO)

Our writer received this adapter on loan for this First Look. First Looks are trials of new or interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons.