Netgear adapter makes networking quick and easy: Linking up your home PCs is no longer a time-eating ordeal
(Dallas Morning News, The (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Oct. 26--A big part of our product reviews is that we suffer so that you, the reader, won't have to. Hours spent fiddling with software, adjusting settings, trying to get balky products to do what they're supposed to do -- that's our job.
Well, put away the violins for poor us this week. We tested Netgear Inc.'s HDX101 Powerline HD Ethernet Adapter, and it was so easy to install and get working that we worried initially that we must have done something wrong.
Netgear powerline adapter
The Netgear product lets you set up a home computer network by using the electrical outlets and wiring in your house. It took us only 11 minutes from start to finish to get the network running, and that includes time spent opening the package, reading the instructions and crawling under a desk in search of an outlet.
Netgear lists its Powerline HD Ethernet Adapter Kit, HDXB101, for $249.99. A single adapter, HDX101, is sold separately at a suggested retail price of $129.99. Real-world prices are considerably cheaper.
The kit comes with two Ethernet adapters. You plug one into an outlet near your router, the one that brings the Internet into your house and is the hub for your home network. You plug the other adapter near the computer that you want to put on the network.
Next, using Ethernet cables, you connect the router to the first adapter, and the remote computer to the other adapter. In a short time, the computer is running on the network -- a matter of seconds in our case.
We tested the network's speed by downloading music videos off YouTube. The transfer speeds to an iBook seemed speedy enough. A Macintosh G5 hooked directly to the router with an Ethernet cable may have downloaded entire videos faster, but the iBook/Netgear downloads stayed ahead of the songs' playing.
Sharing iTunes libraries between the iBook, the G5 and a 6-year-old Macintosh G4 -- a quick way to test networking capabilities -- was done without drama. The loading of music libraries from machine to machine didn't seem to differ in speed, whether using the Netgear product or the traditional network.
Netgear advertises that the product can transfer up to 200 megabits per second over its network. Since my Internet provider promises only 6 Mbps, we couldn't push it on Internet downloads.
We usually use a wireless network in our home for computers outside the office. However, two years ago, when we set up a computer in a daughter's bedroom, the wireless signal couldn't penetrate the walls between office and bedroom.
In that case, we climbed into the attic and dropped an Ethernet cable down two walls -- one end to the office, and the second to the bedroom. That was an all-day ordeal that involved power tools, drilling holes in the wall, hooking up outlet plates and other chores.
If we only had had the Netgear system available then.
Other manufacturers offer similar products, which we did not test. Among the more well-known companies are Linksys, a division of Cisco Systems Inc.; Belkin Corp.; and Iogear Inc. But the list is much longer.
One more attribute to recommend a network through the electrical system is that it is movable. You can work on your computer in a bedroom, then move the computer -- and the network adapter -- into the kitchen, the living room or elsewhere in the house.
The setup instructions advise not using a power strip or extension cord. But we used our main office power strip and didn't notice any problems.
Although the most obvious use is to connect computers, the Netgear system can also make it easy to hook up a video game console that offers online gaming.
Pros: An extremely easy way to set up a home computing network.
Cons: You can save money by running an Ethernet cable instead -- if you're handy enough.
Bottom line: A network solution so simple that technophobes can install it.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Dallas Morning News
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