Power-Line Shines at Multimedia

Power-Line Shines at Multimedia

Zyxel's homeplug AV-based adapter (bottom left) handled interference better than its Panasonic (top left) and Netgear rivals did.
Zyxel's homeplug AV-based adapter (bottom left) handled interference better than its Panasonic (top left) and Netgear rivals did.
Watch out, Wi-Fi. New power-line networking gear, which sends data over a home's existing electrical wiring, outperforms even the fastest Wi-Fi in streaming video, our tests show.

Networks based on the HomePlug Powerline Alliance's HomePlug 1.0 specification have been around since 2002. But while comparable in speed to 11-megabits-per-second Wi-Fi, these products were eclipsed by Wi-Fi's untethered glamour. Now, however, three new competing power-line technologies with theoretical top speeds of 190 to 200 mbps promise the long-distance throughput and consistency needed for smooth video streaming.

We tested shipping Netgear Powerline HD adapters ($165 a pair, $130 each), based on Spanish vendor DS2's chips; shipping Panasonic HD-PLC adapters ($200 a pair, $130 each), which use Panasonic's own chip set; and preproduction Zyxel HomePlug AV PowerLine & Coaxial adapters ($114 each), which employ the HomePlug Alliance's new HomePlug AV standard.

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