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

The Trendnet TPL-406E works with power line adapters from other vendors, but in this case, you might need to turn off the security feature on all of the adapters for them to work together. This is because the security feature might only work among power line adapters from the same vendors. The Trendnet TPL-406E comes with a security feature of its own, which you can turn on and off via a little button right next to its network port. This is a helpful feature for those living in an apartment building who want to make sure their home network won't be accidentally shared with people in other apartments who are also using power line adapters.

The TPL-406E doesn't come with a pass-through power socket, meaning that you can't plug anything else into the same wall outlet it occupies. This is because power line adapters generally need to be plugged directly into the wall to work well, and not into a surge protector or power strip.

The adapter has three indicator lights, labeled PWR, LK, and ETH for Power, Link, and Ethernet, respectively. When all of the lights are green, it generally means everything is in excellent condition.

There's not a whole lot to setting up a power line connection, and that goes for the TPL-406E as well. If your network is already power line connection-ready, just plug a TPL-406E into a wall socket, then connect a wired device to it using a network cable (the adapter comes with one network cable included), and you're done.

If this is your first power line connection, you'll need two units. First you hook up one of the adapters to the network via the router (or the switch), using a network cable. The second adapter is connected to an Ethernet-ready device, such as a printer, at, say, the far end of the house. After that, you just plug both adapters into the power sockets. And that's it. Basically a power line connection is an alternative to running a long network cable between the router and the Ethernet-ready device. In the case of the TPL-406E it's actually much cheaper to get two units than to run network cable properly. This is because running a cable behind the wall involves the cost of the cable, the two network wall ports, and the wiring time .

If for some reason you find the above steps complicated, both the TPL-406E adapter and the TPL-406E2K kit come with a very detailed setup poster.

Performance
As mentioned above, since it's bottlenecked by the Ethernet standard of its network port, the TPL-406E adapter can't offer the speed of Powerline AV 500, but it did show the top Ethernet performance, which is 100Mbps. I used two TPL-406E adapters for testing and they consistently scored 90Mbps. This was basically as fast as a normal Ethernet connection can get after taking overhead into account.

For a such a small and low-cost device, I consider this performance excellent. Note that this is the sustained speed; that means it's faster than most Wi-Fi connections. On top of that a power-line connection is a lot stabler than a wireless connection and has much lower latency.

CNET Labs power line adapter performance (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Throughput  
ZyXeL PLA4205
213.2 
Netgear XAV5501
160.8 
D-Link DHP-540
147.68 
ZyXeL PLA4231
90.3 
Trendnet TPL-406E
90 
Reference 802.11N 2.4GHz Wi-Fi
20 

Conclusion
Tiny, affordable, and as fast as 10/100 Ethernet can get, the Trendnet Powerline 500 AV Nano Adapter (model TPL-406E) is an excellent buy if you want to extend your network via power line networking, especially when you buy the kit of two units. If you were planning on running network cable from one room to another, the TPL-406E2K kit actually costs less in terms of hardware and takes just a few minutes to get the job done.

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Quick Specifications See All

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