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Devolo dLAN 200 AVdesk: Stream media like electricity

Want to set up a super-fast wireless home network? Forget Wi-Fi -- hop on the HomePlug AV bandwagon

Want to set up a home network? Can't deal with configuring Wi-Fi? Your boyfriend won't let you string up network cables around the home? Get yourself a power line Ethernet adaptor -- they let you connect multiple PCs over the electrical cables that run through the walls in your home.

We've just tested what is currently the most advanced HomePlug device on the market, the Devolo dLAN 200 AVdesk. Unlike HomePlug 1.0-based systems, it uses the newer, faster HomePlug AV standard, which lets you transfer data at a theoretical maximum of 200Mbps.

The Starter Kit comes with two boxes that resemble a router or modem. These connect to your mains supply, then to your PC via a short LAN cable. Setup is quick and easy, and the system lets you transfer files, share an Internet connection between multiple PCs, and even works as a really robust media-streaming platform.

In reality, the system never approached the 200Mbps theoretical maximum -- but the average 75Mbps it achieved is faster than similar systems we've tested, plus it isn't as affected by outside interference from other electrical devices. There's no significant drop in network performance if you decide to plug in a hairdryer.

We used it to stream not one but two simultaneous 1080-line MPEG-2 videos to a second PC and didn't see a single dropped frame. This is in stark contrast to previous HomePlug-style products, or even newer, rival 200Mbps systems that use a proprietary system over the ratified HomePlug AV standard.

Forget streaming video over Wi-Fi -- it's pants. Cables work, but you'll only end up tripping over them and hurting yourself. Get yourself one of these babies -- the Starter Kit is available online for around £150, with additional adaptors costing around £99. -RR