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Linksys PLEK500 Powerline AV2 Gigabit Network Adapter Kit review: Top powerline performance to date

On the right side, the device has a tiny security button, which allows for creating a secure powerline connection between multiple units, when pressed within 2 minutes of one another. A secure connection is necessary if you live in an apartment building where multiple households share the same electrical wiring system. This way, nobody can tap into your home network by using an adapter of their own.

There's not not much at all to setting up a powerline connection, and that goes for the PLEK500 kit, too. First you hook up one of the adapters to the network via the router (or the switch), using a network cable. The second adapter is connected to an Ethernet-ready device, such as a printer, at, say, the far end of the house. After that, you just plug both adapters into the power sockets. And that's it. Basically a powerline connection is an alternative to running a long network cable between the router and the Ethernet-ready device. In most cases, getting the PLEK500 is actually much cheaper than running network cable properly, which involves the cost of the cable, the two network wall ports, and the time spent stringing wire.

If if you find this complicated, the kit comes with detailed instructions and a CD that contains the user manual and other support materials.

Due to hardware overhead, most of the time, you should expect the real-world sustained speed to be lower than the advertised speed. This was true for the PLEK500 kit, but it's the first one that delivered close to 500Mbps, more than we can say for other 500Mbps-rated adapters.

In my testing, with a connection between the two included PLE500 adapters, I was able to consistently get the sustained speed of some 31MBps, which is about 250Mbps. This is about three times the real-world speed of a regular Ethernet connection, or about one-third of a real-world speed of a Gigabit connection. Very fast indeed.

It was a little tricky for me to rate the PLEK500's performance since it was the first HomePlug AV2 powerline kit. That said, it's unclear for now how it's stacked up against its peers, which remains to be determined. In the meantime, it's currently the fastest powerline adapter kit on the market.

Compared to Wi-Fi, the PLEK500 is faster than most, including some 802.11ac clients. Also note that a powerline connection is a lot more stable than a wireless connection and has much lower latency.

CNET Labs' powerline adapter performance
(In Megabits per second; longer bars indicate better performance)

As the first HomePlug AV2 powerline adapter kit, the PLEK500 offered the best sustained speed I've seen, despite the fact that it doesn't support the highest data rates of the new standard. While future HomePlug AV2-based adapters might offer even faster speed, at the current 250Mbps of sustained throughput, the new kit has more than enough for all existing home entertainment and data sharing applications. And for that, and for now, it's definitely an excellent buy.

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