Name: Devolo dLAN 500 AVmini - Starter Kit
Type: Powerline networking homeplug kit
Specs: Click here for full specs
Price: £99.99 from Amazon
Devolo's dLAN 500 AVmini powerline networking starter kit boats superfast, reliable internet speeds over your electrical wiring, effectively knocking out wireless blackspots. However, stability and speed come with a fairly high asking price attached. Does Devolo's latest kit perform well enough to justify the cost? Read on to find out!
For all the convenience a wireless internet connection brings, in many cases they also come with a fair helping of frustration too. Whether it's a signal blackspot or significantly reduced speeds, getting the most out of your internet connection over Wi-Fi can be a struggle. Where once the only alternative was to feed unsightly Ethernet cabling around your house to combat the problem, powerline networking kits, like the Devolo dLAN 500 AVmini starter kit reviewed here, are a far more elegant solution.
The powerline kit works by plugging a homeplug adaptor into a wall power socket near your internet router, and linking the two together over an Ethernet cable. A second homeplug adaptor is plugged into the wall near where you want to be able to pick up a stronger internet connection, delivered to your device of choice over a second Ethernet cable. The internet connection is then sent down the electrical wiring of your house, bridging the gap between the router and your internet-accessing device, offering speeds near-identical to those that you'd get from a connection directly wired to your router. Extra cabling is kept to an absolute minimum, while you're left to enjoy a stable, speedy internet connection.
The Devolo dLAN 500 AVmini starter kit is one the best powerline networking solutions we've so far seen. For starters, it supports incredible connection speeds of up to 500Mbps, and while there are few (if any) households in the UK that can boast such broadband speeds, all will enjoy significant improvements when compared to a Wi-Fi connection. On our test home broadband connection (which averages out at around the 19Mbps mark when connected directly to our router) we never saw speeds drop below 18Mbps with the Devolo kit, an improvement of as much as 25% over the speed of our best Wi-Fi connection. Faster connections will easily be able to serve multiple HDTV streams and even 3D movies with the kit.
It's a shame that the 500 AVmini plugs experience a slight drop in performance when plugged into an 4-way extension plug bar. For the best performance, you're going to want to plug the gear directly into a wall socket if possible. Thankfully, the slim build of the homeplugs compared to rival offerings mean that they should be able to slip discretely into some relatively tight spaces regardless.
Set up is incredibly simple too. Though a software installation CD comes included with the set's two homeplugs (as well as two short Ethernet cables), it really is a "plug-in-and-play" product, meaning connecting all the wires up to a PC, smart TV or games console and your router at the other end is all that's needed to get things up and running. If you do opt to install the included software CD, you'll be able to configure the homeplugs to prioritize certain types of traffic, such as VoIP or video streaming, handy if more than one person is using the network at once. It's worth mentioning that if you already own older Devolo 200 AV adapters they'll work alongside this newer kit without a hiccup too.
Setting up security features is just as simple. "Push button security" enables 128-bit AES hardware encryption, making it incredibly easy to protect the information travelling around your network.
Lastly, power consumption is also incredibly low. Keeping in mind that it's likely you'll rarely unplug the adaptors or switch them off, the fact that they draw just 0.5 watts when in standby mode will be a welcome one when it comes time to face your electricity bill.
If there's one issue to be had with the Devolo dLAN 500 AVmini starter kit, it's the price. While the slim design and high potential connection speeds are a bonus, there are cheaper options that will deliver performance that will be more than suitable for the average user. Only those really keeping a close eye on the minute fluctuations of the fastest broadband speeds will see every benefit on offer here.
We're big advocates of powerline networking at Tech Digest, and this latest offering from Devolo is among the best we've tried. With a low footprint in terms of both physical size and power consumption, paired with the stability and speed of internet connection that the dLAN 500 AVmini plugs offer, we cant recommend them highly enough.