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Computer Accessories

ZyXEL PL-100: networking via electrical wiring

Creating a home network? These cool gadgets will turn your home's existing electrical wiring into a ready-made network infrastructure

Everybody knows networks are great, but a wired LAN can turn your house into a messy orgy of cables, and wireless networks can be subject to interference, slow connection speeds and complicated setup procedures.

ZyXEL, perhaps hearing our network-related screams of frustration, recently sent us its PL-100 Powerline Ethernet Adaptor, which provides an alternative to mainstream wired and wireless networking methods.

As instructed, Crave plugged one end of the device into our PC's LAN port, and the other into an electrical power outlet, et voila, it turned our power lines into a house-wide network infrastructure. So now we can make toast and share illicit MP3s using the same technology.

We gleefully made other PCs join the network simply by connecting to them to another mains-attached PL-100.

ZyXEL claims these 'Homeplug' devices can provide network transmission rates of up to 85Mbps -- which is about 31Mbps faster than ordinary 802.11g Wi-Fi, and only 15Mbps slower than an ordinary wired LAN.

The system works very well, and unlike other similar devices that are shaped like a giant mains plug, the PL-100 resembles a mini network router and uses a trailing power lead with a standard mains adaptor that won't physically obstruct other devices on the same outlet.

You can pick one up for around £65. -RR