No matter what, Ethernet will always be faster and more reliable than most wireless connections, it’s simply a fact considering how real-world usage and speeds have more than quadrupled. But each configuration shares one undeniable trait, and that’s range; if you don’t have a long cable or the Wi-Fi environment isn’t accommodating. Fortunately, that’s where TRENDnet and the Powerline 1200 AV2 Adapter Kit comes in.
For about $130 the TPL-420E dutifully solves the problem of limited network range by utilizing existing electrical lines. Admittedly, this starter package will set you back more than others but it does promise a reliable solution when your modem/router alone can’t do the job.
There’s nothing distinctive about the TRENDnet 1200 AV2 as it basically looks like every powerline device out there, a conspicuous adapter that plugs into a wall outlet and works as a bridge for any quick Ethernet feed. The look is all-white with three status lights indicating the power, network status, and strength that changes color based on distance, while a sync/reset button sit underneath.
With no real setup to deal with, getting everything to work requires minimal effort and comes pre-encrypted out of the box. By simply hooking up one adapter to a router (or switch) with an Ethernet cable then doing the same for the actual device (printer, game console, etc.), and finally plugging both units into a power socket.
Speeds for the TPL-420E are pretty fast thanks to Gigabit port connections that advertise a stellar rate 1200Mbps (1.2Gbps); these are theoretical, however, as powerline adapters can very rarely (if ever) attain close to their maximum figures. It would be easy to be disappointed as our actual numbers sat at 560Mbps, which is sufficient but still a far cry to those unfamiliar with real-world performance. This is the expected wavering gap that Wi-Fi endures and the TPL-420E has some of the same hurdles, although the physical link of cables keeps latency consistent for 5000 sq. ft via MIMO beamforming.
Obviously, the 1.2Gbps claim is just for bragging rights but overall performance is very good nonetheless. Older consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in particular will benefit the most as wireless functionality was more a flimsy courtesy than an asset, our general download/upload rates jumped from a meager 2.7/1.5Mbps (wi-Fi) to a more agreeable 8.5/3.6Mbps in an already congested office. As for desktop computers, this is the closest you’ll get to experiencing to seamless internet speeds without having to resort to a lesser 802.11 network card.
As long as one module is connected to the router, the TPL-420E will play nice with existing TRENDnet adapters (200 AV/500 AV/600 AV) through backwards compatibility. Up to eight modules will communicate as long the configured network share the same default electric network, otherwise, you can tailor specific unit to work independently through the included Powerline Utility software. There’s a meticulous list of customization for security, activity, and remote accessibility; it’s a decent touch for the obsessed user but most people probably won’t need the micromanaging features.
The TRENDnet Powerline 1200 AV2 Adapter Kit is straightforward but an excellent solution for people bound by their extended wired network, by any means. This will definitely work if cables are unsightly or for places where a Wi-Fi signal can’t pierce thicker walls, but this is nothing new as most other powerlines produce close to similar results. The real difference is that TPL-420E offers noticeably faster speeds and is well-rounded.