dLAN 200 AV Starter Kit Review

The concept of using your mains electricity supply to create a network is not a new one, but the speed offered by new devices such as this are making them increasingly attractive.

Setting up the dLAN 200 AV really couldn’t be easier. You plug the device into a socket and connect your Mac to it via an Ethernet cable. Now plug another device (say an Apple TV) into another dLAN 200 AV plug and it’s as if you’d connected the two directly to each other. Because you’re using a Mac that’s really all there is to it. Apple’s Bonjour technology quietly takes care of forming the network.

The dLAN 200 AV promises speeds up to 200Mbps, roughly four times the maximum speed offered by a WiFi 802.11g network and twice that of the more recent 802.11n standard. Although it is considerably slower than a direct 1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet network (as produced by connecting newer Macs and devices directly to each other, or via wires via the new Airport Extreme router).

To test the dLAN we used a Synology DiskStation NAD drive (www.synology.com) and AJA Kona System Test (http://www.aja.com/html/support_kona3_swd.html). This re-creates the act of reading and writing video files.

We found that the dLAN 200 AV offered 39.2Mbps read time from the hard drive, which – although considerably less than the theoretical 200Mpbs maximum – was four times faster than the 10.4Mbps read time produced by our WiFi 802.11g test network. It was, however, 10 times slower than a direct Gigabit Ethernet connection (438.4Mbps). It’s easily fast enough to stream high definition video throughout the home, though, which is nothing to be sniffed at.

The dLAN 200 AV Starter Kit is a good alternative to WiFi. The Health Protection Agency considers WiFi perfectly safe: “There is no consistent evidence to date that WiFi and WLANs adversely affect the health of the general population,” it says. “The signals are very low power, typically 0.1 watt.” (www.hpa.org.uk/radiation/understand/radiation_topics/emf/wifi.htm) However, some people have preferred to rid their homes of WiFi, and a device such as the dLAN 200 AV could step in here.

OUR VERDICT

Although the dLAN 200 AV Starter Kit is not cheap, it is highly effective and provides a fast and simple alternative to creating a home network. This would be a wise investment if you’re into streaming media around the home, as the speed gains compared to WiFi speak for themselves.

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