Bottom Line: Linksys’ PLK300 Powerline AV Network Kit is an excellent way to extend Internet access to another room of your house or office without running cable. Although the kit is pricey (about $150) it works flawlessly and is an ideal choice for those looking to hook up Internet-enabled TVs and other home video devices.
Setup: These days, more and more pieces of home theater equipment require a direct connection to the Internet, and not all of them have wireless capability. Recently, I found myself wanting to connect Internet-enabled TVs and a Blu-ray player to the Internet in rooms far removed from my DSL modem and router. Because none of the devices had Wi-Fi, I was faced with bringing an Ethernet port to them. I decided it would be too time consuming to run Ethernet cable through all the walls in my house, so I opted to buy Linksys’ PLK300 Powerline AV Network Kit. The kit uses a home’s pre-existing electrical wiring to carry Internet data, so you can easily add an Ethernet port anywhere that your house has a power outlet.
Setup is a breeze. The kit comes with two AV Network Adapters, one with a single Ethernet port and one with four ports. You take the single-port adapter, plug it into a power outlet and then run an Ethernet cable from it to your computer router. You then take the four-port adapter and plug it in wherever you want to add your new Ethernet ports. Once this is done, you run Ethernet cables from the newly installed adapter to your devices, and you’re ready to go. The whole process literally takes minutes.
Functionality: I have been using the Network Kit in my home for several months, and it has performed flawlessly. I’ve used it to connect Internet-enabled TVs, a Blu-ray player, a PlayStation 3 and a DirecTV satellite receiver, and each acted as though it was connected directly to my router. Because the Network Kit can handle data transfer speeds of up to 200Mbps, it’s a perfect choice for high-bandwidth applications like streaming music and high-definition video.
Linksys’ Powerline AV Network Kit is also nice because it is expandable. The initial kit comes with one single and one four-port network adapter (you need both for the system to work), but you can easily add additional adapters to other areas of your home or office.
Although I found the Network Kit to be excellent in all ways, it’s important to note that it may not work for everyone. Because it relies on a home’s electrical wiring to carry the signal, houses with multiple circuits or unusual wiring configurations could present difficulties. The average user, however, should have excellent results.
Value: The Linksys Powerline AV Network Kit is highly reliable, easy to set up and does everything it promises. It will not, however, be the best solution for every user. With a retail price of about $150, it is an expensive way to extend Internet connectivity throughout your house.