MicroLink dLAN Highspeed Starter Kit

WiFi is a marvellous invention, especially if you live in a house where the walls are not brick. Try WiFi in a Victorian house, however, and you’ll find that signals soon fade, even in the smallest terrace. Desktop machines can be linked using Ethernet but the thought of running cables through an old house isn’t a happy one. Fortunately, there’s another solution from Devolo. It’s the MicroLink dLan Highspeed 85.

The MicroLink system is fantastic because it requires no drilling, no cabling, and no setup. Simply plug one adaptor into a power socket, plug the other into a power socket elsewhere in your house, and you have an Ethernet link between the two. The signal is carried through the power lines, leaving your house or office free of cables.

We tested an earlier version last year and found it worked well, but for file transfers between computers it lagged a little behind real Ethernet, or even fast WiFi. The new version claims 85Mbps, which isn’t quite as fast as Ethernet, but it’s a lot closer and means that file transfers over the circuit are fine for most uses. The most common use for a home network is to share an Internet connection, and 85Mbps is faster than any ISP can offer.

If we have any criticism it’s the look of the adaptors. Granted, they can be easily hidden, but the translucent blue plastic and flashing lights draw a little too much attention to themselves. That’s fine for an office, perhaps, but this is a network adaptor designed for the home . We’d prefer to have something a little more discreet in our living rooms, at least something that enables us to turn the flashies off.

The starter kit includes two adaptors, but you can add more if you want to, so you can have internet access in every room if you like. The theoretical limit is 256, but in practice the bandwidth is shared, so eight to ten adaptors is the highest realistic number. More than that and you should get a proper data plumber in.

OUR VERDICT

If you need your computer somewhere where your network doesn’t reach, the MicroLink adaptor is a great solution. Ethernet is undoubtedly better, especially if you need Gigabit Ethernet, but this solution is so much simpler. There’s no setup; you simply plug in and go. For almost all home uses, even internet gaming on a Mac or console, this does the trick magnificently. If you don’t want to drill through walls, or install ugly wiring, the Devolo solution is a no-brainer.

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