Today, as part of our PC feature, we have a review of the Linksys Powerline Home Networking product range, which allow you to share your internet through your electrical outlets to link up ethernet devices, or another wireless point throughout your house. If you would like to learn more about the product range, read on for our full review…

Powerline is an intuitive product which allows you to extend the reach of your router’s ethernet or wireless capabilities across the home through your existing electrical wiring. It is very simple to use; you plug one of the Powerline units from your two-piece kit into a wall outlet near your router and hook them up using the included ethernet cable. You then place the other Powerline unit (whether it by ethernet, wireless or both) in the room in which you would like the network to be setup.

Linksys currently sell three different Powerline kits. The first is the PLEK500, which is the most recently released kit in the lineup. This kit simply provides a way to connect one ethernet device to your router using Powerline and your electrical wiring. Each unit in the kit has one ethernet port, and will allow you to extend a single port across the home. It is styled in a white design, unlike the two other kits, and can transmit up to 500Mbps wired speed (depending on a number of factors such as noise, original internet speeds, router quality etc). Two ethernet cables are included in the kit.

The second kit is the PLSK400 which includes a four-port ethernet unit. This will allow the extension of one ethernet port on your router to four ethernet ports in the room in which you decide to setup the network. You must simply plug the single port unit into an outlet near the router, hook it up via an ethernet cable and install the 4-port unit in a room of your choice. It is styled in a premium, black design and includes 2 ethernet cables in the box.

Finally, the PLWK400 extends one of your router’s ethenet ports to an additional wireless network in a room of your choice, carried across your electrical cabling. If you are setting it up in a far away room with weak signal stength, this would be ideal for you. It also has a single ethernet port, to allow you to connect one additional ethernet device. This is most certainly the best all-round option, as it offers both Wifi and a single ethernet connection. Two ethernet cables are again included with this Powerline kit.

One thing to keep in mind is that you do not need to connect multiple Powerline units to your router, any number of Powerline units can run off a single unit connected to the router. To take an example, if you wanted to set up a Powerline device in the office, bedroom and kitchen, you would only need to connect one unit to the router and one unit in each of the three rooms (whether they be single port, 4 port or Wireless with 1 port). The three Powerline units in the rooms can all connect to the one unit at your router simultaneously.

PLEK500 (single port kit)

The PLEK500 is a kit suitable for the connection of one wired device in a room away from your router. This, for example, would be suited towards an office with a single PC and no other ethernet devices. This kit is the only of the three to be labelled AV2 standard. Capped at 500Mbps, it really is about the maximum you would need in a home network connection, as very, very few locations can achieve more than this speed. If you have a very fast connection, you would want to look at using this kit, as the other two offer only 200Mbps speeds as a maximum.

It is a pity that the PLEK500 has only a single port, as the 4-port version, as mentioned above, can only carry speeds of up to 200Mbps. If you need speeds in excess of 200Mbps, you will likely experience a significant drop in your direct ethernet speeds if you choose the PLSK400. I am sure that Linksys have a multi-port version of Powerline under AV2 standard on the way, so, if you are looking for a multi-port solution on a very fast network, it may be worthwhile holding out.

Aside from this, the PLEK500 is a fantastic product. It is the fastest Powerline product I have yet witnessed, and offers sustained speeds 24/7. While it may be capped at 500Mbps, if your setup and line are capable of that speed, you WILL get it. I setup the kit quite a distance from my router and I was able to get 93% of the speed I obtain over directly wired ethernet (on average, over a series of tests). It is a very reliable product, and delivers the performance it promises. It is far more efficient and sustained than using a high-powered wireless network, and generally outperforms it.

The two-piece kit is available for the price of approximately €89.99/£69.99, but it can be found cheaper in many places. If you have a very high quality network and want to extend it to another room without running ethernet cables through the walls, this is the way to do it!

PLSK400 (4-port kit)

The PLSK400 is a device which extends a single port on your router to four ports in another room of your home. Unfortunately, it is an AV4 product, and only offers up to 200Mbps speed, however, this should be fast enough for a lot of people, as internet speeds in the UK and Ireland rarely exceed this limit. If you have a high quality router, such as a Linksys Smart Wi-Fi router, you should expect to retain ~90% of the speed you get over direct Wifi, provided there is not much noise throughout the link.

Again, the product is highly reliable and is delivered as a two piece kit, one for your router and the other for the room in which you would like to extend your network to. It is currently available for the fantastic price of just £42.98 on Amazon UK, which equates to just over €50. It really is a no-brainer if you want to put four ethernet ports in a study or office in your home. You should expect a reliable connection which delivers a high percentage of your direct speeds.

PLWK400 (wireless)

The PLWK400 is an extremely useful product. It allows you to open a wireless network in a room of your choice, fed from an ethernet port on your router, transmitted through your electrical cabling. This is ideal if you have converted an attic into a bedroom or office, and the wireless network doesn’t quite reach far enough to deliver reliable speeds. The PLWK400 allows you to open a Wireless-N network with up to 200Mbps speed in any given room. It runs on the 2.4GHz band, and even has an ethernet port available for good measure, allowing you to connect one wired device in addition to a number of wireless devices.

If you are not bothered with the 500Mbps speed on the AV2 model, the PLWK400 is far, far better value. You get the single port connection available on the PLEK500, but with the addition of a wireless-N network in the room. I definitely recommend this product, as I was able to achieve speeds at an average of 80Mbps on a network with 120Mbps total speed. That is a very impressive speed for a wireless network run across Powerline, and it helped my setup greatly. It is currently available on Amazon for approximately £88, while other European retailers are selling it for around the €95 pricemark.

Overall, the Linksys range of Powerline devices are likely the most reliable in the market, and offer the best performance in their categories. While they may be expensive, the Linksys name is one synonymous with quality and reliability, and this remains true with their Powerline range. They no doubt deserve our GOLD AWARD.