Netgear HDXB101 Powerline HD Ethernet Adapter

I’ve picked up some new media pieces (more on those later) and need to get some Internet connectivity in my TV room.

As I see it the simplest thing to do was to run some Cat 5 cable from my kitchen (where my modem/router is) to the TV room. When I was browsing in Fry’s at lunch today I saw that they had some wireless Ethernet adapters that operate through your electical wiring. I quickly checked for some reviews and found a bunch of fairly old reviews that indicated that they might not be too bad. The boxes were promising me throughput of up to 200 Mbps which is pretty impressive.

So I picked up some Netgear HDXB101 Powerline HD Ethernet adapters, picked up a couple of Linksys 5 port switches and brought them home to try out.

Fresh out of the car, so they were still nice and cool, I plugged them both in in my kitchen to test them before moving one of them down the hall. Using my laptop I used Speakeasy’s speed test as a fair sample of the kind of through-the-network-and-out-to-the-world use that I would need. From a direct hookup to my router I get a hair under 6 Mbps down and around 400 kbps up.

Using the (cold) Netgear adapters I was sitting at about 2 Mbps down. Not quite the 200 touted on the box but almost livable for what’s needed in that room. So I moved one of the adapters to the TV room and got similar results. Cool, that works for me.

I then broke out one of the switches to test and hooked it up too. First I tested the laptop directly off the switch and got my usual direct connection speed.

I ran the line from the router to the switch to the netgear adapter. Went to test the speed in the TV room and… almost zero throughput. When the test eventually began chugging along it wheezed out something in the low hundreds of kbps.

Many permutations of things were tried, leaving the switch attached to the router while running another line directly from the router, disconnecting the switch from the router entirely, no improvement. Nada.

I even went back to my original kitchen tests and brought myself up to about 730 kpbs down fairly consistently.

Feeling the Netgear boxes they were both quite warm. All I can think is that the electronics in them gets too hot and then degrades their performance?

They’re going back to the store tomorrow, I think I’ll try the ($50 more expensive) Linksys units and see what happens.

I originally didn’t want to use wi-fi since I’ve always found it to be pretty dismal performance wise. But even my laptop can pull down 4 Mbps in the TV room which is stellar compared to the absolute best the powerline adapters could manage. And both those are far short of the touted 200 Mbps…

In my opinion, both the wireless and the Netgear’s performance should still yield pretty close to the 6 Mbps that I can get when using a wired direct connection to my modem/router. The bottleneck *should* be my Internet connectivity (6 Mbps) when you think that even a wireless 802.11b connection should be able to manage 11 Mbps.

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