ZyXel PLA4231 500 Mbps Powerline Wireless N Extender

The Good The ZyXel PLA4231 500 Mbps Powerline Wireless N Extender is a two-port power-line adapter with built-in Wi-Fi and hence extends a home network for both wired and wireless clients.

The Bad The ZyXel PLA4231 doesn't support Gigabit Ethernet or dual-band Wi-Fi, and, without a required second power-line adapter, it's rather expensive.

The Bottom Line Current power-line users with large homes will benefit from the ZyXel PLA4231's network extension capabilities; however, there are alternatives that offer similar benefits for less.

Editors' Rating
  • Setup 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Support 8.0
6.8 Overall

Compare

ZyXel PLA4231 500 Mbps Powerline Wireless N Extender
ZyXel PLA4231 500 Mbps Powerline Wireless N Extender
Google Wifi
Google Wifi
ASUS RT-AC86U Dual-Band Wireless Router
Asus AC2900 dual-band Wi-Fi router (RT-AC86U)
Netgear Orbi RBK50 WiFi System
Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi System
Synology RT2600ac
Synology RT2600ac
Price $85 MSRP $114 Amazon.com $246 Amazon.com $297 Amazon.com $200 Amazon.com
Setup
7
9
9
8
8
Features
7
7
9
8
10
Performance
6
9
9
9
9
Support
8
8
... ...
8

Review

Good, but not quite good enough

If you want to extend your Wi-Fi network to the far end of a large home, the best way is to run a network cable there and connect it to another access point (or Wi-Fi router). But running network cables in an aesthetically pleasing way is a challenge, so the second-best way is to get a pair of power-line adapters, such as the recently reviewed Actiontec PWR511K01, and another access point. Or you can get the ZyXel PLA4231 500 Mbps Powerline Wireless N Extender.

The ZyXel PLA4231 is basically a two-port power-line adapter that comes with a built-in Wi-Fi access point. This means apart from being able to host two other wired network devices in some remote part of your house, it can also create a new Wi-Fi network there for wireless clients. Per the HomePlug AV IEEE 1901 standard, the ZyXel PLA4231 should provide data speeds of up to 500Mbps. In reality its speed is, unfortunately, much lower than that, both for wired and wireless clients, due to the lack of Gigabit Ethernet and dual-band Wi-Fi support.

To add injury to the insult, at a street price of around $120, without a second power-line adapter included, the ZyXel PLA4231 is not cheap.

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Specs / Prices

  • MSRP $85
  • Brand ZyXEL Communications Corp.
  • Type bridge
  • Data Link Protocol Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, HomePlug AV (HPAV), IEEE 1901
  • Form Factor wall-pluggable
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