Setting up the Zyxel PL-100 adapters is a snap--truly plug-and-play. The silver-and-black adapter is the size of a small alarm clock and supplies one Ethernet port, a 4.5-foot Ethernet cable, a power connection, and a 6-foot power cable. You'll need at least two adapters to establish a power-line network. We connected the first adapter to a Netgear Ethernet router (you can connect it directly into your cable or DSL router, as well), and we plugged it into the wall. We then connected the other unit to a laptop and plugged the adapter into the wall. Without even needing to reboot the laptop, we had an instant connection to the Internet.
The Zyxel PL-100 adapters feature three LEDs--Power, Link, and Ethernet--that let you know that the unit is receiving power, as well as whether it is receiving or sending data and whether it's connected to your Ethernet cable. The included CD contains a configuration utility that provides diagnostics and lets you protect your network with 56-bit Data Encryption Security (DES). We did not need to bother with the included setup utility to get the adapters working. You can network up to 15 other adapters from the main unit connected to your router.
In our Labs' tests, the Zyxel PL-100 HomePlug Turbo Powerline Ethernet Adapters clocked in at a consistent 29.6Mbps--slower than both the Netgear Powerline HD Ethernet Adapter's 52.7Mbps rate and the Panasonic HD-PLC's 35.4Mbps rate. While 29.6Mbps is well off Zyxel's theoretical maximum of 85Mbps, it's still more than enough for broadband Web surfing. This rate will also suffice for transmitting high-def content; HDTV peaks at 28Mbps, and the standard rate for over-the-air HD broadcasts is 19.4Mbps.
Zyxel backs the PL-100 with a two-year warranty. Telephone support requires a toll call and is available weekdays from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. PT. You can fill out a form on Zyxel's Web site and submit it to the company's support staff for help. You can also search through the knowledge base, which contained two entries regarding the PL-100 product at the time of this writing.