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Linksys Instant PowerLine EtherFast 10/100 Bridge

Linksys Instant PowerLine EtherFast 10/100 Bridge (PLEBR10)
Summary HomePlug compatible power line to Ethernet Bridge
Update None
Pros • No-brainer installation
• Comparable in price to HPNA 2.0 products
Cons • 5Mbps throughput best case
• Expensive relative to alternative products
• Need Windows machine to set security code

Although some companies who announced HomePlug power line networking products back in January are having second thoughts, Linksys is forging ahead with at least two of their Instant PowerLine products. This review will take a look at the Instant PowerLine EtherFast 10/100 Bridge (Model PLEBR10) and see how it stacks up against other networking methods.

Basic Features

The PLEBR10 comes in an attractive enclosure that's about the size of a thick paperback book (6.5 in. X 3.8 in. X 1.24 in. if you want to be exact) and sports the familiar Linksys purple, orange, and charcoal grey color scheme. There's a 10/100 BaseT RJ45 jack on one end of the box, and a power receptacle for the supplied power cord on the other. All indicator lights are on the top of the box and include Power, Link, Activity, and Collision LEDs for the power line side and Link, 100, and Activity LEDs for the Ethernet portion of the bridge.

Since the BR10 is a bridge and not a client adapter, it will connect not just one, but multiple devices connected to its Ethernet side to clients on the HomePlug part of your network (Linksys says you can have up to 16 HomePlug devices in your LAN). The Ethernet jack is wired so that you can use a normal UTP cable to connect the bridge to most Ethernet devices. But if you want to connect the bridge to your router so that your HomePlug-connected computers can share your broadband connection, you'll need to either use your router's uplink port, or use a crossover cable plugged into any of the normal router ports.

The BR10 uses the 5130 chipset from Intellon, who won the nod from the HomePlug Powerline Alliance as the baseline standard for HomePlug technology. This means that all the first generation HomePlug products will use this chipset, just as all HPNA 2.0 phone line networking equipment uses Broadcom's HPNA chipset. This doesn't necessarily mean all designs will be the same, however, since manufacturers still need to add the Ethernet and bridging chips or USB interface chips to complete their designs.

That wraps up the general description. Let's see what installation and configuration are like...

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