Western Digital WD Livewire Powerline AV Network Kit review:

Western Digital WD Livewire Powerline AV Network Kit

Like all other HomePlugAV powerline adapters, it's easy to set up the WD Livewire kit. You first connect one of the adapters to the existing network's router (or hub) and the other to devices at the far corner of the house to which you want to extend the network. After that you just need to plug both adapters into the power source and that's it. You just made yourself a powerline connection.

In case this is somehow still not clear enough, the WD Livewire also comes with a CD that contains a well-illustrated flash application to walk you through via a few steps. There's also a similarly well-illustrated setup poster included in the package.

The CD also has the WD Livewire utility software that helps manage and view the adapter's performance or upgrade the adapter's firmware.

The WD Livewire kit offered the best throughput performance among powerline adapter kits we've reviewed.

The kit consistently scored 40Mbps, significantly faster than the 32.5Mbps of the once-fastest Linksys PLK300 kit. This is a sustained throughput speed; we tested the adapters by moving a large amount of data from one computer to another via the powerline connection. At this speed the kit transferred 500MB of data in about 100 seconds. This is a comparable speed to that of fast wireless-N routers. Note, though, that this speed depends on the electrical wiring of the house/building where the kit is used, so the result may vary in your particular situation.

While this is a noticeable boost compared to other powerline adapters, the WD Livewire kit isn't able to stream high-def content as well as Western Digital claims. In our anecdotal tests, it worked fine with contents at 720p or lower. With 1080p, especially with Blu-ray bit rate, we experienced a delay and choppiness, even when we streamed just one movie to one client a time.

All in all, however, we found that the WD Livewire kit is the best among HomePlug AV adapters and it is a great alternative to a wireless connection.

Powerline adapter performance (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Service and support
Western Digital backs the Livewire Powerline AV Network Kit with just a one-year warranty for the North America market, even though it offers a two-year warranty in Europe. The company's Web site is an excellent resource for support-related matters; it has a comprehensive list of forums, knowledge bases, driver downloads, installation help, and FAQs. Technical support is also available via live chat, e-mail, and phone.

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