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Netgear Powerline AV+ 500 review: Maybe size actually does matter

CNET editor Dong Ngo checks out Netgear's new Powerline AV+ 500 adapter (XAV5501).

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If it were half its current physical size, Netgear's new Powerline AV+ 500 adapter (model XAV5501) would still be very bulky for a power-line adapter. However, it's big for good reasons.

First off all, the XAV5501 comes with a built-in pass-through power socket, allowing another device to share the same wall socket that it's plugged into. This is actually a very important feature, as more often than not, there's only one power outlet available.

The most important reason, however, is the performance. Supporting the new power-line 500Mbps standard, the XAV5501 blew us away in our testing, offering real-world sustained throughput speed around 50 percent higher than that of a traditional Ethernet connection. The adapter registered by far the fastest power-line connections we've seen, much faster than the TrendNet TPL-401E2K, which is another power-line 500Mbps-based adapter.

If you don't know what a power-line adapter is, it's a device that turns your home's existing electrical wiring into that of a computer network. You'll need at least two adapters to create the first connection. And at a street price of around $80 per unit, the XAV5501 will make a great initial investment.

Apart from being a big, quite literally, addition to your home network, a couple of XAV5501 adapters will also make an excellent alternative to Wi-Fi, especially for those far corners of the basement, where a wireless signal can't reach.

To find out more about the device and power-line networking in general, check out the full review of the Netgear Powerline AV+ 500 adapter XAV5501.