From then on, each time you log in at the same address, you will be able to view the power-line connection's status, activity history log, and so on. You can also change the password for the each PLN3 Powerline adapter. This is a necessary step for an apartment building because if you don't enable password protection or change the default password, others in the same building might be able to join your network (and tap into your Internet connection, for example) by plugging another HomePlug AV-compliant power adapter into any of the building's power outlet.
The service is potentially a handy tool for other service providers to offer remote troubleshooting for your network connection should a problem arise. However, this is possible only if the problem doesn't disconnect your computer from the Internet, as the Plaster Networks Service requires a live Internet connection to function. This also means you can't take advantage of it if you want to have an isolated network.
Though we find this service useful, we didn't find it useful enough to justify the annual fee of $30. The good news is the service is free during the first year.
Note that if you don't want to use this service at all or do not even want Plaster Networks to be able to locate your PLN3 adapter (to update its firmware automatically, for example), you can turn this all off. To do this--on a computer that's connected to the adapter--point an Internet browser to PLNxxxxxx, where xxxxxx is the adapter's six-digit identification number printed on its side. This allows access to the adapter's Admin Console, where you can change all of the adapter's additional settings, including those relating to the Plaster Networks Service.
Unlike the Plaster Networks Service, the Admin console doesn't require a live Internet connection to work.
We tested the PLN3 Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter by using two units and the same test methodology we use for wireless routers. The adapters consistently registered 22.4Mbps in our sustained throughput tests. This is about the same average speed of 2.4Ghz Wireless-N routers at 100 feet. This throughput speed can change depending on the electrical wiring of your home. At this speed, the PLN3 adapters can finish transmitting 500MB of data in about 3 minutes.
In our anecdotal movie streaming tests, the adapters proved that they can offer decent streaming for high-def content, as long as we streamed just one at a time with no other network activities, such as Web surfing or data copying, going on at the same time. We did notice, however, when we increased the file size of the movie or the workload, the streaming wasn't smooth at times, especially when we wanted to jump from one part of the movie to another.
On the other hand, for other casual network needs, such as printing, surfing the Internet, or even playing YouTube movies, the PLN3 will get the job done just fine.
Overall, we weren't terribly impressed with the PLN3's performance. We believe it is a good alternative when wireless networking is not a viable option.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
Plaster Networks backs the PLN3 Powerline adapter with a one-year warranty against defects or mechanical issues. You can also return it within 30 days after purchase. Other than that, we don't think you'll need much support for it. If you do, its phone technical support is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to the company's Web site. You'll also find more information on the device and the Plaster Networks Service there.