Trendnet Powerline 500 AV Nano Adapter review: Small, fast, and inexpensive

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Design and ease of use: 8.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 9.0
  • Service and support: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The affordable, compact Trendnet Powerline 500 AV Nano Adapter (model TPL-406E) provides fast throughput speed.

The Bad The adapter could be even faster if it supported Gigabit Ethernet, instead of being limited by the Ethernet cap of 100Mbps.

The Bottom Line The Trendnet TPL-406E is a fast way to extend your home network, while saving both time and money.

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The Powerline 500 AV Nano Adapter (model TPL-406E) is Trendnet's answer to Actiontec's PWR500 adapter. The two are so similar that they're almost like one device housed in two different cases, and they offered basically the same performance in my testing.

The Trendnet TPL-406E also has the same shortcoming as its Actiontec counterpart: it has a standard Ethernet network port. This means that despite its support for the 500Mbps Powerline AV 500 standard, the adapter's throughput speed is capped at that of regular Ethernet, which is 100Mbps.

At a street price of about $35 (or about $50 if you get a kit of two -- the TPL-406E2K), the Trendnet TPL-406E makes an excellent buy for those who want to dabble in the realm of power line networking for the first time. For alternatives, check out our list of more top-rated power line adapters.

Design, setup, and features
Measuring 6x3x6 inches, the Trendnet TPL-406E adapter is tiny and fits right in your palm. It's not the tiniest power line adapter I've seen -- it's a tad larger than the Actiontec PWR500 -- but calling it supercompact wouldn't be an exaggeration.

Like the Actiontec, the Trendnet TPL-406E has a snap-on design, which is generally a problem with larger adapters since they block access to the adjacent power outlet. This is not an issue with the TPL-406E, though, thanks to its small chassis.

The Trendnet TPL-406E adapter (right) is just slightly larger than its Actiontec counterpart.
The Trendnet TPL-406E adapter (right) is just slightly larger than its Actiontec counterpart. Dong Ngo/CNET

On the bottom, the device has a standard network port. This port, unfortunately, only supports the regular Ethernet standard, which caps at 100Mbps. If the adapter supported the much faster Gigabit Ethernet standard, it would be able to offer the maximum benefit of Powerline AV 500, which is a data throughput speed of up to 500Mbps. In its current state, the most you can get out of the Trendnet TPL-406E is the speed of regular Ethernet.

This kind of Ethernet-standard-support oddity is not new, though; the Actiontec PWR500 and the recently reviewed ZyXel PLA4231 are in the same boat. According to Trendnet, this is because they share the same AR7420 power line chip from Qualcomm that trades Gigabit support for a lower price. Future chips will offer higher speed, however.

As mentioned above, the Trendnet TPL-406E is available in either a single unit or in a kit of two. The reason power line adapters tend to come in a kit is that you need at least two adapters to create the first power line connection. However, if your home is already equipped with other power line adapters, then to add another wired device to the network you just need to get one new adapter.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Trendnet Powerline 500 AV Nano Adapter Kit (TPL-406E2K)

Part Number: TPL-406E2K
MSRP: $113.86 Low Price: $33.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Data Transfer Rate 500 Mbps
  • Data Link Protocol Fast Ethernet
  • Connectivity Technology wired
  • Weight 1.8 oz