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Linksys Powerline AV Bridge Kit PLK300 review: Linksys Powerline AV Bridge Kit PLK300

Linksys Powerline AV Bridge Kit PLK300

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Dong Ngo
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Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

4 min read

The Linksys Powerline AV Bridge Kit PLK300 is the most well-thought-out powerline adapter kit we've seen so far. It's also the first that can handle up to four network devices. In our testing, it offers excellent performance and proved to be very easy to set up.

OVR
7.8

Linksys Powerline AV Bridge Kit PLK300

The Good

The Linksys Powerline AV Bridge Kit PLK300 comes with four Ethernet ports at the far end. The kit is easy to use, fast, and has detachable power cables that won't obstruct the adjacent power sockets.

The Bad

The Linksys PLK300 kit is bulky and doesn't work with surge protectors.

The Bottom Line

The Linksys Powerline AV Bridge Kit PLK300 is a well-designed solution to expand your network via your home's electrical wiring, especially when you want to use multiple computers at the far end of the connection.

On the downside, the adapters are rather bulky, especially the one that's designed to connect to a router. Like all powerline adapter we've seen, the PLK300 kit doesn't work well with surge protectors or power strips, either.

With street prices between $125 and $170, the PLK300 kit is the best deal when it comes to getting your multiple devices connected via your home's electrical wiring.

Design, setup, and features
The PLK300 kit comes with two similar-looking powerline adapters designed to work specifically with each other in a particular setup. The first (model number PLE300) has only one Ethernet port and is intended to be connected to the existing network via the router, or hub. The second unit (model number PLS300) has four Ethernet ports and is to be used at the far end of the powerline connection.

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This combination makes sense as if both of them had the same number of ports; any extra ports on the first unit (PLE300) would be wasted. This also means that if you want to expand your powerline network to different corners of the house, you need only purchase additional PLS300 units--which cost $95 each--or another HomePlug AV-compatible adapter.

Though it includes only one port, the PLE300 has the same shape and size as the four-port PLS300. Both are fairly bulky, about the size of a small four-port hub. To make up for the large physical size, neither uses the popular snap-in design to connect to the power receptacle, where the adapter would cover the wall socket it's connected to and even adjacent ones. Instead, they come with a thin, detachable power cable that not only helps keep the wall socket area clear, but also enables you to put the adapters at a convenient location, like on your desk.

Like all HomePlug AV adapters, the PLK300 kit is finicky with power strips and surge protectors and needs to be plugged into the wall directly. Cisco says the adapters have built-in mechanism to protect themselves from a power surge.

The adapters have rubber feet on the bottom and can lay flat on any surface. They also, however, come with a detachable base for vertical positioning. On top of each is an array of LED lights that show the activities of the ports, the power, and the security status.

Like all other HomePlugAV powerline adapters, it was easy for us to set up the PLK300 kit. We first connected the PLE300 to a router and then plugged it into the power source. At the far end, we connected the PLS300 to a computer and then the power source, and voila! A network was now established. We tried connecting another three computers at the far end and they all were connected immediately.

Each of the adapters in the PLK300 kit has a security button on top that allows for setting up passwords between them. The process of setting up the password requires pressing this button on both units alternatively. The details of this rather involved process can be found here . This is similar to the security setup of the Netgear XAV2001 , though a little more time-consuming. Nonetheless, it's fairly easy. To avoid having your neighbors procure your connection for their own purposes, using this security measure is a necessity. Otherwise, they'll be able to tap into your network just by using another HomePlug AV adapter.

Performance
The PLK300 kit was the fastest kit we've seen when it comes to throughput performance.

The kit consistently registered more than 32Mbps compared with the Plaster Network PLN3's 22.6Mbps or the Netgear XAV2001's 22.9Mbps. At this speed, the kit could finish transferring 500GB of data in about 2 minutes, which is about the same as a 2.4Ghz wireless-N router. Note, however, that these speeds depend on the electrical wiring of the house/building where the kit is used, so results may vary in your particular situation.

Though far from the speeds of a traditional wired Ethernet connections, the PLK300 proved in our anecdotal tests to be a viable solution for general networking needs--including hi-def media streaming--as long as you don't do multiple streaming jobs at a time.

CNET Labs' powerline adapter performance (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Throughput  

Service and support
Cisco backs the PLK300 with a generous three-year warranty, which is longer than most others. The company's toll-free phone support is available 24-7, as is online chat with a support representative. The company's Web site includes software, drivers, and firmware downloads as well as an FAQ section.

OVR
7.8

Linksys Powerline AV Bridge Kit PLK300

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 7Performance 8Support 8
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