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Comtrend PG-9172 G.hn Powerline Adapter review:Pricey, but super-fast

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The Good The Comtrend PG-9172 G.hn Powerline Adapter has top performance and is easy to use.

The Bad The suggested retail price is high and the relatively bulky adapter might obstruct adjacent wall sockets. It doesn't have a pass-through power socket, either.

The Bottom Line The Comtrend PG-9172 G.hn Powerline Adapter has near-Gigabit performance but the suggested price is too high for what it has to offer.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.0 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 9

Review Sections

The Comtrend PG-9172 G.hn Powerline Adapter is both fast and expensive.

The new adapter in fact replaces replaces the ZyXel PLA5206KIT as the fastest power line adapter I've seen, albeit by just a small margin. Unfortunately, at $130 for a kit of two or $70 for a single unit, it's also currently among the most expensive of its type, costing twice the price of its contender. (Pricing for UK and Australia will be announced at a later date.)

To make up for that, the Comtrend PG-9172 is very easily to use. With two units, you can quickly turns existing electrical wiring of a home into a network cable, hence conveniently extends a wired network to a far corner of the home. With speed several times faster than regular Ethernet, the Comtrend PG-9172 G.hn is an excellent fix when you need to bring Internet to a place where Wi-Fi signal can't reach, such as the basement.

All things considered, there's not much to complain about the new adapter, other than the cost. Comtrend does say that the street price will likely be lower so you should wait a while before getting your own. In the meantime, if you need a power line solution right away, consider one of these other excellent choices on this list of top power line adapters.

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The Comtrend PG-9172 G.hn Powerline Adapter is rather bulky and has no pass-through power socket.

Josh Miller/CNET

Design and setup

Similar to many power line adapters on the market, the Comtrend PG-9172 uses a traditional snap-in design, meaning it looks like a three-prong power adapter of a small electronic and you can easily plug it into any wall socket.

Measuring 3.7 inches by 2.4 inches by 1.4 inches (93mm x 59.6mm x 35mm), the PG-9172 is not huge but it's not exactly compact, either. In my trial, the adapter could easily block an adjacent wall socket. This, plus the fact it doesn't have a pass-through socket means you might have problem finding a suitable socket to plug it in. This is a rather common problem with power line adapters of this design and is made worse by the fact that in order to function optimally they all need to be plugged directly into the wall, and not via a power strip or surge protector.

On one side, the PG-9172 adapter has a Gigabit network port and on top it has three indicator lights for the connection strength, network status and security. Near the network port, there's a configuration button to turn on the adapter's security feature.

Similar to existing power line adapters, setting up the PG-9172 is a simple and easy process, but if you need help, there's a clearly illustrated instruction poster included. First you hook up one of the adapters to your existing router (or switch) using a network cable (a short cable included with the adapter). Then connect a second adapter to an Ethernet-ready device, such as a computer, a printer or even a Wi-Fi access point. Then plug each adapter into a power socket and you're done. The adapters now use the electrical wiring in between the two sockets as a network cable.

Note that in order to create the first power line connection, which allows you to add one wired device to the existing network, you need two adapters. After that you need just one more adapter for each additional device. The general rule of power line networking is you buy a number of power line adapters equal to the number of wired clients (computers, printer, game consoles and so on) plus one. The extra unit connects to the existing router (or switch) and brings the network to the rest of other adapters. With the PG-9172, you can add up to 16 devices a power line network, which is generally the case with most power line adapters.

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