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LAN & WAN Reviews

Introduction

At a Glance
Product Zyxel 200 Mbps Powerline HomePlug AV Desktop Fast Ethernet Adapter (PLA-400)
Summary One of the first HomePlug AV powerline adapters
Pros • 2X better average best case throughput than HomePlug Turbo
• Maintains higher throughput with distance than HomePlug Turbo
• Peacefully coexists with HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo networks
Cons • Does not connect with HomePlug 1.0 and 1.0 plus Turbo devices
• Coexistence is very inefficient
• Very rudimentary setup utility
• Setup utility is WinXP only

It seems like we've been waiting forever for HomePlug AV (HPAV), which is the next, and perhaps final, step on the HomePlug evolutionary trail with a raw maximum advertised throughput of 200 Mbps. That 200 Mbps number might look familiar, since it's the same raw throughput promised by DS2's powerline technology that has about a year lead on Homeplug AV.

But HPAV devices are finally starting to trickle into the retail channel, with Zyxel being one of the first companies to ship in the form of its PLA-400. So without further ado, let's dive in.

Product Features

The PLA-400 adapter has a line-cord (vs. "wall wart") design, packaged in a compact silver and black plastic enclosure measuring about 4" X 4" X 1". Figure 1 provides the info on the front panel lights and the rear panel is unremarkable with only a line cord receptacle and single 10/100 auto MDI/MDI-X Ethernet jack.

PLA-400 LED description

Figure 1: PLA-400 LED description

Input line voltage is spec'd at 100 to 240 V AC and 50 or 60 Hz, so with the proper line cord, the device can be used worldwide. Although HomePlug AV can support up to 64 devices on a network, a note in the 400's User Manual says only 16 devices are currently supported. Support for 64 will be added in a future firmware update.

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