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HomePlug AV devices are protected with 128 bit AES encryption, a step up from the 56 bit DES encryption employed by HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo. All HomePlug devices come set with the same default key, so you can just plug and play.

All devices in this roundup, except for Plaster's PLN3, have buttons that can be used to set the security code. Setting the code works like setting up a Wi-Fi WPS connection. You press the button on one device until a LED starts blinking. You then have two minutes to press the button on a second adapter to complete the setting.

Each also comes with a utility (Windows only) that also can be used to set the security code and provides some other optional administration features. Each of the utilities detected adapters from other manufacturers and mostly provide the same features. They differ mainly in presentation format.

Figure 13 shows the main screen of the Linksys utility, which shows detected devices and data rates. Just like Wi-Fi, the Data Rates are not actual throughput, but the link (PHY) rate negotiated.

Linksys utility - network screen

Figure 13: Linksys utility - network screen

Figure 14 shows the Linksys utility Advanced screen, which contains QoS settings. I would just leave these alone unless you know what you're doing.

Linksys utility - Advanced screen

Figure 14: Linksys utility - Advanced screen

NETGEAR's utility (Figure 15) is a little fancier and its installer also installs WinPCap 4.1.1, which is a Windows packet capture and network monitoring library.

NETGEAR utility - settings screen

Figure 15: NETGEAR utility - settings screen

Figure 16 shows the QoS screen, one of four Advanced screens (Security, QoS, Diagnostics, Factory Reset). Again, these settings are best left alone.

NETGEAR utility - advanced settings screen

Figure 16: NETGEAR utility - advanced settings screen

Figure 17 shows the Security Advanced Settings screen, where I clicked the Use default Encryption Key button to show the default network key. Note that the key can be applied to a single device or all detected devices.

NETGEAR utility - advanced settings screen

Figure 17: NETGEAR utility - security settings screen

NETGEAR's adapters have a few unique hardware features. Figure 18 describes the LED functions, which reveal a 10 minute power save mode (Power) and Pick-A-Plug feature in the Powerline LED. Remember, these are Link rates, not actual throughput, so your mileage may vary from the "Good for..." application notes in the Figure.

NETGEAR LED descriptions

Figure 18: NETGEAR LED descriptions

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