By Terry Currier
I do like the idea of networking through the power lines. Setting up an Ethernet network is not too difficult, but running the wires thought the house can be. Setting up a wireless network is also not too bad (the latest hardware setup make it easy), and the signal can go through the walls. At least up to a certain degree governed by how many walls and distance. Ethernet is also the fastest network connection, but what if you can not just run a cable to where you may want to connect, or you get no wireless signal? Powerline networking is perfect for these situations.
The old maximum powerline speed was 14Mbps, the MegaPlug from Actiontec is now up to 85Mbps. Using the MegaPlug 4-Port Hub with the MegaPlug Ethernet Adapter makes it easy to extend your network wherever you need to connect. A USB hub extends the range of your USB ports and adds more ports. That is kind of what the MegaPlug 4-Port Hub does. You run one Ethernet cable to it from your router to itís WAN plug. This gives you more Ethernet ports, and allows you to use the already hidden electrical wires to connect to your network. This is especially great if you are constantly short one cable slot on your present router.
According to some reviews with a wireless network you can effectively connect up to about 150 feet. I donít have one myself. I always wonder what the neighbor can pickup even with firewalls. With a powerline network I donít have to worry about that. The signal can cross circuit breakers (wall plugs), but not circuit boxes. So no one outside of my home can steal information. If I do need to secured my computer Actiontec includes software for 56-bit DES Data Encryption.
The only software I had to install was for the computer using the wall plug connection. If a computer is hooked up to the MegaPlug Hub then it would have to install some software for it. Using the powerline network I downloaded a file from the Internet and achieved a speed of 438Kps which is really good. Below is a comparison of copying a file:
Copy a 415Kb file from main computer
They tell you not to use a surge protector with it, but with their error correcting software I had no problems. In fact I connected it from one surge protector through another and it worked. It did slow it down however.
Powerline networking says it is good up to 990 feet. I could not test it for that far, I didnít have enough cord. What I can say it work perfect in all of my electrical outlets. Plugging it into my garage outlet about 70 feet away the connection still had no problems. I then plugged in a 100 foot power cord, and two 50 foot power cords. These three cords were good quality power cords. I still had one more 50 foot power cord of which the gauge was not a high quality made for light duty work. It did still work though. It was fun stringing the cords down the street just to see how for I could get (my neighbor came out asking what I was doing.) It took me four house down, and the connection was still pretty good. I could get email and do things on-line with no problems. However, testing the same file download with the lower quality power cord it would have taken 77 minutes to finish. Taking it off so I would still be 270 feet from the network, the same file took 22 minutes to download.
When you need to connect to a network and your wireless router is not enough this is the perfect answer. More than that itís secure. Their support is very good, with a toll free number to call. Best price I found was at Newegg.com with the MegaPlug 4-Port Hub at $70, and the wall plug adapter at $47.
Actiontec - MegaPlug Hub
Minimum System Requirements
Router, Gateway, or other device with HomePlug capability
Microsoft Windows 98SE,Me, 2000 or XP
TCP/IP Network Protocol Installed
Internet Explorer 4.0+ or Netscape 4.0+
By the way when I finished with this review Actiontec just came out with a 200Mbps version.
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