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At the street price of around $150, the TrendNet TPL-401E2K 500Mbps Powerline AV Adapter Kit is about $40 more expensive than other powerline kit on the market, such as the WD LiveWire. But in this case you do pay for what you get.
Being the first that supports the new IEEE 1901 standard in powerline technology, the TrendNet offers by far the fastest speed among powerline adapters we've reviewed, even though it's still nowhere close to its rated speed of 500Mbps.
Other than that, the TrendNet TPL-401E2K is very similar to other single-port powerline kits, such as the Netgear XAV2001 in terms of ease of use, design, and features. If you want to get the most data speed out of your home's electrical wiring, it'll make a good investment. If you want more ports, however, we'd recommend the WD LiveWire or the Linksys PLK300.
Design, setup, and features
The TrendNet TPL-401E2K kit consists of two identical powerline adapters, model TPL-401E. These adapters have a similar design to the Netgear XAV2001 and the Plaster Network PLN3. They're just like a two-prong power adapter for a small electronics device, such as a cordless phone or an external hard drive. When in use, they are snapped on the power socket and use the electrical wiring both for the power and for the data connection.
This also means that the TrendNet TPL-401E adapter has only one Ethernet port, located on the far side, away from the two prongs. This port actually supports Gigabit Ethernet, which is the first we've seen among powerline adapters. The new adapters support the latest IEEE 1901 standard and therefore have the ceiling powerline speed of up to 500Mbps. They are, however, backward compatible with existing HomePlug AV adapters.
Next to the network port, you'll find a sync button. Pressing on this button of the two adapters within 2 minutes from one another will create a secure connection between the two. On top, the adapter has three LED indicator lights that show the status of the Ethernet connection (to a wired network device), the powerline connection between the two adapters, and power status.
We tested the kit with only the two included adapters but, according to TrendNet, up to 16 adapters can work together to create a large powerline network. Note, however, that as the adapter has no power pass-through socket and it's not designed to be used with a power strip, it will occupy one wall power socket. Make sure you have more than one power outlet at the far end of the connection.