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Trendnet Powerline 500 AV2 Adapter (Kit) review: A fast, easy, and cheap way to extend your network

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The Good The plug-and-play Trendnet Powerline 500 AV2 Adapter provides some three times the speed of a regular Ethernet connection. It's affordable, especially when you purchase a kit of two.

The Bad The adapter is relatively bulky and doesn't have a pass-through power socket.

The Bottom Line The Trendnet Powerline 500 AV2 Adapter is an excellent and fast way to extend your home network to places where Wi-Fi signal can't reach.

8.3 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Support 8

Extending your home network doesn't get any easier than the Trendnet Powerline 500 AV2 Adapter. It's fast, easy to use, and more affordable than competing options.

The new adapter is available in a single unit (model TPL-408E) or a kit of two (model TPL-408E2K) that currently costs $45 and $75, respectively. In my testing, the TPL-408E2K kit was the fastest to date, registering sustained speed much faster than a regular Ethernet. It also comes with a handy security feature. The adapter's only downside is the fact that it's a bit bulky and doesn't come with a pass-through socket, meaning you can only use it in places where there are more than one power outlet.

If you're looking to quickly extend your home network, without having to worry about the latency or signal dropping, the TPL-408E2K is an excellent starter kit. For other choice of power-line adapters, inducing those that are cheaper (and slower), check out this list.

TPL-408E2K kit TPL-408E
The TPL-408E2K kit comes with two identical TPL-408E units. Dong Ngo/CNET

Design, setup, and features
It's normal packaging that power-line adapters are available in a kit of two. This is because you need two adapters to create the first power-line connection (or node). After that you only need one more for each additional node. The Trendnet TPL-408E2K kit includes two identical TPL-408E adapters, which can also be purchased by itself. In contrast, the Linksys PLEK500, which is the first AV2-enabled adapter and the former speed champion, is available only in a kit of two.

The TPL-408E adapter looks like a typical power-line adapter, taking the snap-on design found in many power supplies for small electronics, such as cordless phones or label printers. It's quite compact, but not enough so to easily share a multiple-socket wall outlet with other devices. Chances are, it will obstruct the access to nearby receptacles. This design, plus the fact that the TPL-408E doesn't have a pass-through power socket means that you can't use it at a place where there's only one power outlet. In this case you can't provide power for any other device. Generally, power-line adapters require to be plugged directly into the wall, and not on a power strip or surge protector, to work well.

On top the adapter has three LED status lights for the power, the home network, and the network port, which is on its bottom side. This port support Gigabit Ethernet, which is a must if you want to really take advantage of the adapter's rated speed, which is 500Mbps. I've seen many 500Mbps-rated power-line adapters that use a regular Ethernet (10/100) port -- such as the Trendnet TPL-406E2K, or the Actiontec PWR511K01 -- and that means their top speed is stuck at 100Mbps at most.

The TPL-408E works with other power-line adapters, including those of older standard and other vendors. To prevent leaking your network to others living on the same building, near the network port, the TPL-408E come with a sync button that helps create secure power-line connections between the multiple units. You just need to press on this button on each adapter within 2 minutes of one another and they will only work with each other and not with other power-line adapters. A secure connection is necessary only if you live in apartment building where multiple households share the same electrical wiring system. If you live in a separate home, this is not necessary since the power-line signal generally stays behind a power breaker.

The TPL-408E comes with a sync button to quickly activate the security feature.
The TPL-408E comes with a sync button to quickly activate the security feature. Dong Ngo/CNET

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