Emerging Tech

HomePlug revival continues with new Netgear Powerline gear

Netgear has released the new Powerline HD Plus Ethernet Adapter Kit (HDXB111) and Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter Kit (XAVB101).

Remember when, not so long ago, home networking using power lines seemed down for the count due to slow throughput rates, especially as Draft N wireless devices entered the market? Thanks to improved technology, the HomePlug standard is staging a comeback, with big-name brands like Linksys releasing new kits using the updated HomePlug Turbo and HomePlug AV flavors. Netgear is now upgrading its offerings as well, finally releasing the new Powerline HD Plus Ethernet Adapter Kit (HDXB111) and Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter Kit (XAVB101) (which were first shown at CES in January).

Netgear Powerline

Both kits come with two adapters that use a Powerline HD interface that is rated at 200Mbps maximum throughput, though Netgear is emphasizing the Quality of Service features of the HDXB111 that will prioritize video, gaming, and VoIP traffic. The HDXB111 adapters also come with built-in AC outlets, so you can plug in other devices while the adapter is plugged in to the wall outlet. If you can live without those features, the XAVB101 will be a little cheaper ($149.99 versus $169.99 for the HDXB111).

As its name suggests, the HDXB111 is being touted for its ability to stream high-def content with minimal hiccups. We'll have to see some reviews before we can be assured that this is the case, but it's encouraging to see that the convenience that power-line networking offers hasn't been tossed on the dustbin of history just yet.

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Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

3 comments
The Cars Forever
The Cars Forever

I have been a big fan of the early HomePlug devices and they have served me well for networking throughout the house. I would really love for someone to develop a HomePlug device that allows me to connect an AV output (i.e., HMDI, Component, Composite, S-Video, etc) so it can be played elsewhere in the house. I can invest in a couple IR repeaters for the remotes, but that allows me to have fewer DVD players, media extenders, DVRs and more. One can dream, right?

patrick_hulst
patrick_hulst

There are devices that will convert video/audio/hdmi to Cat5. Do a quick google and you'll see a wack of them. I have no idea if any/all of them work over homeplug, but definitely you can run that stuff over cat5. My local Jack Astor's restaurant uses component/cat5 connections for all their TV's in the bar area. Saves them running video cables all over the place. All tv's are HD so I'm guessing it'll pass that along.

mdhealy
mdhealy

I've been using Netgear HomePlug devices for several years on my home network. Since my wife and I primarily use our home network to share our WAN connection, the speed of these devices has been quite sufficient for our needs. We could of course use WiFi, but for us HomePlug has several advantages. First, from where I sit right now I can see about six WiFi connections so the spectrum is rather full here. Second, since HomePlug uses the wires in our walls I consider it more secure than WiFi, because interception would require physical access (and HomePlug is less common than WiFi so fewer potential crackers know about it). Finally, HomePlug is simpler to configure AND doesn't require getting a WiFi adaptor for a desktop box in a different room from where the cable connection is located. I have of course enabled encryption on our HomePlug devices with a random key of my own choosing.