Devolo dLAN 500 AV Wireless+ Starter Kit review - Complete networking kit
The Devolo Starter Kit provides quick-and-easy home networking
There are lots of different PowerLine networking kits available these days, offering different speeds as well as features such as wireless connectivity and pass-through plugs. But, as the rather long-winded name suggests, Devolo’s new dLAN 500 AV Wireless+ Starter Kit has all its bases covered, offering high-performance networking and a comprehensive set of additional features.
Priced at around £120.00, the Starter Kit consists of two PowerLine adaptors that provide networking speeds of up to 500Mbps via your existing electrical wiring. That’s the maximum theoretical speed, of course, and you’re not likely to reach that speed in practice, but the Starter Kit should still be able to cope with streaming audio and high-definition video without breaking a sweat.
One of the few disadvantages of PowerLine networking is that the adaptors tend to monopolise your power sockets, so the adaptors in this kit also include a pass-through mains connector that allows you to plug additional electrical devices into the same socket as the dLAN adaptor without affecting your network connection. The built-in electrical filter even allows you to plug in an electrical strip that powers multiple devices up to a maximum of 16 amps.
The first adaptor is the simpler of the two, equipped with just a three-pin electrical plug and a single Ethernet adaptor, so that you can connect it to your broadband router and then plug it into a nearby electrical socket.
The second adaptor, however, has got just about everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. There are three Ethernet ports to provide wired connections to your network, and the adaptor also supports 802.11n wireless networking, with speeds of up to 300Mbps for wifi devices such as an iPad or iPhone.
Setting up the wifi network is very easy, as a simple button on the front of the adaptor allows you to turn the wireless signal on or off whenever you want, while a second button can be used to encrypt your data and generate a random password for the network.
You can also configure the wireless network manually, using the adaptor’s web browser interface. You can configure the wireless network to turn itself on or off at specific times in order to save energy, and there are even parental control options that allow you to limit the time spent on the Internet by individual computers. And, of course, there’s the inevitable app – called Cockpit – that allows you to monitor and configure the network from your iOS devices.
However, you do need a little more networking know-how to make the most of these features, and the PDF manual supplied with the Starter Kit tends to assume that you already understand technical details such as MAC (not Mac) addresses.
The manual could be a bit more helpful for beginners, but for the most part the Starter Kit is very easy to set up and use. It’s one of the more expensive PowerLine options currently available, but it’ll be really useful if there are rooms in your home or office that you can’t reach with a conventional wired or wireless network.