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LAN & WAN Reviews

Setup And Administration

Both the AV200 adapters come set so that they will just plug and play if you don't feel the need to mess with their settings. Like HomePlug adapters, they use a Network Identifier to let you keep your network separated from your neighbor's. It ships with a blank setting, which is essentially as good as the default "HomePlug" that the other guys use. This Network Identifier also serves as the key for the combination of DES and 3DES encryption used to secure data between AV200 adapters.

Both AV200 adapters are a bit unusual for these types of devices in that the adapters have IP addresses and built in web-based administration. I'll touch on both as I describe the devices' settings. The AV200 comes with its IP address set to 10.10.1.69, so Corinex' Quick Start Guide advises changing the computer you use to set up the adapter to an IP of 10.10.1.1. Of course, since all adapters come set to the same IP address, you should power up only one device at a time if you want to access its web-based admin features. Figure 7 shows the main page of the web admin that you are presented with upon login.

Web-based admin main page

Figure 7: Web-based admin main page
(click image to enlarge)

The interface departs from the design found in most networking devices in that it doesn't have a navigation bar to direct you to its various sections. Instead, there are only the subtle "Further information" and "Change configuration" links that aren't even underlined to help announce their existence. The PLC Connections section shows information about other connected AV200 powerline devices, including the Phy receive and transmit throughput. The "Phy" rate is that of the physical interface, i.e. the best-case "raw" bit rate. Of course, you'll never get this throughput in your actual network connection, but it's the same game played by every other networking product manufacturer.

If you are running Windows, you can opt to install the AV200 Configuration Utility, which has its settings organized into separate pages, instead of the single long page used by the web interface. The other plus the Utility provides is that you don't need to futz with your computer's IP address settings, since the utility can find and connect to AV200 adapters with any LAN IP address scheme. Note that this utility is relatively new and didn't come on the CD included with the product. Corinex said the utility has since been added to the CD, but it would be nice if it were also posted for download.

Corinex Setup Tool Search screen

Figure 7: Corinex Setup Tool Search screen
(click image to enlarge)

Figure 7 shows the Windows-based Configuration Utility's opening screen. The Search for devices button will find only "locally connected" AV200 devices, which means that they need to plugged into the same Ethernet LAN that the computer running the Utility is on. Once you find a device, you just double click on it to proceed into the admin and status pages of the Utility.

Alternatively, if you have copied down the MAC address from the label on the bottom of each of your AV200 devices, you can enter it into the MAC address field at the right of the page and click the Configure button. I think I prefer the utilities that came with the HomePlug Turbo devices I recently reviewed, an example of which is shown in Figure 8.

NETGEAR Utility Main screen

Figure 8: NETGEAR Utility Main screen

Both the Windows application and the web-based admin provide access to the same status information and configuration options, so I'll mostly show the Windows app, since its screens are better organized. Many of the controls (Multicast, VLAN, QoS) appear to be intended for use by the AV200's primary target market, IPTV service providers, with settings that are fairly cryptic. The User Guide at least explains what each setting is intended to do, but falls a bit short on providing consumer-level guidance on the how, when and why.

The MAC page lets you force an AV200 to End Point (EP) or Access Point (AP) mode - the latter only if you've entered a Network Identifier, however. Each AV200 network has a single AP and up to 31 EPs, with APs in charge of sharing channel access within the nodes of each network. If two or more networks share the same power lines, one of the access points becomes a "QoS Controller" (QC), which is responsible for controlling how the multiple networks share the OFDM spectrum to avoid collisions and interference. This determination is normally made automatically, and these settings are mainly needed in situations such as apartment buildings or hotels, where multiple networks might need to share the same power grid.

NOTE!NOTE: Both HomePlug and DS2 200 Mbps based devices use OFDM as part of their base technologies. OFDM is a modulation technique also used by ADSL modems and 802.11a and g wireless networking products.

The Network Settings page contains the IP address controls for the device, letting you set static IP information or change to having the AV200 pick up the info via DHCP.

Figure 9 shows the PHY settings page, which I've included because I thought its function was interesting, if not a bit cryptic. All you get is Enable / Disable, so enable at your own risk.

PHY settings

Figure 9: PHY settings
(click image to enlarge)

Multimedia content is often distributed using IP multicasting, which allows the same content to be more efficiently delivered to multiple recipients. Figure 10 shows the AV200's Multicast settings, which allow bindings between adapter MAC addresses and multicast IP addresses. No bindings are set by default, and the results are saved in the adapter's non-volatile RAM (NVRAM).

Multicast settings

Figure 10: Multicast settings
(click image to enlarge)

The VLAN page allows you to enable (default is disabled) 802.1q VLAN tagging for data entering an adapter's Ethernet port. This is another feature for network operators, since no VLAN filtering is done in the AV200 itself. Controls are provided to set the VLAN Tag (or ID) and set the priority from 0 to 7.

QoS controls (called Priority Configuration in the User Guide and web interface) come set to a default priority of 2 and Criterion 1 and 2 set to "none". Priority can be set from 0 to 7 and the Criterion settings changed as shown in Figure 11 to support 802.1p or ToS (Type of Service) tagging.

QoS settings

Figure 11: QoS settings
(click image to enlarge)

Figure 12 shows what you get into when selecting "Custom" Criterion setting. This is a fairly low-level interface for a traffic classifier, again, not intended for general consumer use. The User Guide provides a little insight into the Custom controls via a video streaming example, but not enough that I'd feel comfortable messing with the settings. Figure 12 is a shot of a portion of the web admin interface, but the same controls appear when selecting the Custom Criterion in the Utility application.

QoS Custom Priority settings

Figure 12: QoS Custom Priority settings
(click image to enlarge)

The remaining settings include Security to set the admin login password, Firmware Update to control interaction with a TFTP application used for firmware upgrading and Tools, which provides soft reset and reset-to-factory defaults controls.

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