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Updated 5/19/2009: Added performance data for multiple connections

D-Link DXN-220 and Actiontec ECB2200

At a Glance
Product D-Link HD MediaBridge Coax Network Starter Kit (DXN-221)
Actiontec Ethernet over Coax MoCA Network Adapter (ECB2200)
Summary Clones of the same Entropic reference design that extend 10/100 Ethernet via TV coax cabling
Pros • ~70 Mbps maximum for a single TCP/IP stream
• ~140 Mbps for multiple streams
• Unaffected by RF and powerline noise
• Low latency (ping time)
Cons • ~70 Mbps maximum for a single TCP/IP stream
• Doesn't work with satellite TV
• Doesn't appear to prioritize media over data

Since our review of NETGEAR's MCAB1001 MoCA kit, two more makers have decided to make their MoCA adapters available to retail / etail buyers. D-Link reversed its earlier decision and is shipping the DXN-221 HD MediaBridge Coax Network Starter Kit. And Actiontec's ECB2200, which has been provided to Verizon for use with Actiontec's MI424WR routers, appears to be available online through a few smaller etailers.

The NETGEAR review provides the background on MoCA, its advantages and its limitations, so I won't repeat it here. I'll just take a quick look at the hardware and then jump right to the test results.

Product Overviews

Figure 1 from the User manual shows the DXN-220's (the individual adapter part number) front panel indicators, which are very similar to those on the NETGEAR.

DXN-220 front panel

Figure 1: DXN-220 front panel

Figure 2 shows the D-Link's rear panel—again, similar to the NETGEAR. Also as before, the Ethernet port is 10/100 and there is a switch to change between MoCA and Config modes. There is no button to douse the front panel lights, which isn't a problem because they aren't that annoying.

DXN-220 Rear Panel

Figure 2: DXN-220 Rear Panel

Actiontec takes a very minimalist approach with the ECB2200, probably because it is designed for deployment by service providers. Big companies like Verizon don't like customers playing with settings and causing service calls and possible truck rolls for repair. There is no way to put the adapter into Config mode and the adapter even ships with a cap over the STB/TV coax port to prevent misconnection.

You'll also note by looking at Figure 3 and the opening photo above that connectors are placed on both the "front" and "back" of the device. I think the main reason for this was to make the board as small as possible, which saved on material cost. Power, Ethernet and Coax lights are on top of the unit, which I liked, since it makes them easy to see from above.

DXN-220 Rear Panel

Figure 3: ECB2200 coax panel

The D-Link kit came with two adapters, Ethernet cables and small footprint wall-warts, but no coax jumpers like the NETGEAR kit included. There was also a printed Quick Install Guide and CD with PDF User manual and Utility program. Everything was packed in a plain brown box that obviously wasn't designed for bricks-and-mortal retail, since it had no product image or information printed on it.

Actiontec put two ECB2200's, two wall-warts and a single page Installation Guide into a plain white box for my review purposes. But note that the ECB2200 is sold individually and not in a kit. There were no Ethernet or coax cables and no CD or other documentation. I checked the Actiontec website for documentation, but found none there, either.

However, as with the NETGEAR product, all I had to do with both the D-Link and Actiontec products was connect power, coax and Ethernet cables and they linked right up with no futzing around required.

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