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Solwise Piggy6 HomePlug: Stupid name, excellent product

If the back of your home cinema looks like someone broke into your house and used electrical cable as a dirty protest, this HomePlug product will probably appeal to you

One of the problems with HomePlug AV products -- and there aren't many -- is that you need one plug per device you want to network. Either that or you'll need a switch to share the single connection with other devices, and that's just untidy. Solwise now has an ideal solution: a three-port HomePlug switch, bolted on to a six-way power strip. Unfortunately, it's decided to call it the Solwise NET-PLA-AV-3E-PIGGY6.

Apart from people with a fetish for daft product names, who will use this? Solwise suggests it's ideal for the home cinema nut, someone with a bunch of kit to network as well as power up. So if you've got a Popcorn Hour, an Xbox 360 and, say, a freesat box, which all love network access, you'll be interested in this. It should also reduce cable clutter considerably, which will help to diminish the chance of marital breakdown.

The on-board power sockets have the advantage of being filtered. Solwise says this removes the chance that some random piece of misbehaving electrical equipment can mess up your HomePlug network. A good idea, if it works, as sometimes HomePlug can lose a connection, or drastically slow down if there's electrical interference from a piece of your equipment.

It's also fair to say that HomePlugs generally perform better when they aren't plugged into an extension socket. This little device makes sure all the cabling is high-quality, which should prevent any glitches in video streaming due to interference. 

Security is provided by 128-bit AES encryption, which means if the signal leaks outside your flat, no one can snoop on what you're doing. Generally though, the consumer unit should prevent errant signals from escaping from your house.

The Piggy6 costs £85.03. It will be available from mid-January, either via the Solwise Web site, or from retailers such as Amazon. You'll need at least one other HomePlug AV device to make the network work, so don't forget to budget another £60 or so for another adaptor.