A simple way to add a fully-featured Wi-Fi access point to a powerline network, but make sure you check for standards compatibility first.
Easy to use; good performance; Ethernet port.
Configuration interface and manual need tidying up to remove inconsistencies and poor English.
HomePlug AV 1.0 powerline adapter with 802.11b/g Wi-Fi access point; 200Mbit/s powerline link speed; 10/100Mbit/s LAN port; WEP (64/128/152-bit)/WPA/WPA2 Wi-Fi security.
Networking over the mains, or powerline networking, is a godsend for locations that are either too difficult to lay network cables, or for temporary setups such as shows and exhibitions. The PL-200AV-PEW wireless Homeplug adapter from UK company Solwise lets you add a 54Mbit/s (802.11g) Wi-Fi access point to a powerline network in a matter of seconds.
Sadly, there are still two competing powerline standards. Homeplug, which this product uses, is promoted by the Homeplug Powerline Association, whereas the rival Universal Powerline Alliance markets Powerline branded devices.
The two standards are incompatible, so if you have existing powerline equipment make sure it's a Homeplug AV product first. The Homeplug AV standard, which has a link speed of 200Mbit/s, can co-exist on a network with slower 85Mbit/s Homeplug products, but they can't communicate with each other.
It's all a bit of a mess, so we'd recommend settling for one speed and standard. There's little practical difference between the rival standards, and they operate at comparable speeds.
Using the 200AV Wi-Fi adapter is simple. You'll need another Homeplug AV adapter connected via cable to your network, which Solwise sells for £33.19, and then you just plug in the 200AV Wi-Fi adapter and wait a few seconds for it to connect. Four lights indicate connection status and network activity.
The adapter disables Wi-Fi encryption by default and broadcasts a service set identifier so that you can connect wireless devices with no configuration. WEP and WPA/WPA2 security can be enabled via the web interface, and there's MAC access control as well. The default powerline security can be viewed and changed using the supplied software utility.
Adapter configuration is a bit of a fiddle as the DHCP server is disabled by default; you need to connect via Ethernet, change the PC's subnet and point a browser at the adapter's default IP address. An annoying quirk is that changes aren't saved to the adapter until you click the 'Save to Flash' button buried in the Management section of the menu system. This foxed us as at first, as it's not really made clear in the PDF manual.
Apart from this minor glitch we had no problems. The connection was reliable and we achieved a range of around 20 metres in a domestic setting. It's a simple solution for improving Wi-Fi coverage in a home or small office.