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Wireless Reviews

Introduction

Updated 7/10/2010: Lower Amazon price

Innoband HomePlug AV Wireless N 210P-I1

At a Glance
Product Innoband Technologies HomePlug AV Wireless N kit
(210P-I1) (200P-I1)
Summary Kit with single-stream 802.11n AP with 10/100 and HomePlug AV connectivity and HomePlug AV adapter
Pros • WDS Repeating / bridging
Cons • Single stream N
• Not Wi-Fi Certified
• Can't be set to grab IP info via DHCP

Despite the plethora of 802.11n routers, access points, range extenders and bridges available today, getting enough reliable bandwidth for HD wireless streaming still remains an elusive goal for many. Even the recent appearance of the first three-stream ("450 Mbps") N router doesn't look like it's going to solve this problem anytime soon.

So when Innoband Technologies recently pitched its HomePlug AV Wireless N kit for review, I thought it was a good time to revisit the combination of powerline and wireless technologies.

The last time I looked at this [Does HomePlug AV + 802.11g equal Wi-Fi Nirvana?], the powerline / WLAN combo product was the ZyXEL NBG-318S, which combines a wireless 11g router and HomePlug AV. The combo of NBG-318S and PLA-450 HomePlug AV adapter cost around $200 (it's cheaper now) and could provide about 14 Mbps of wireless throughput where I normally get only 1 - 2 Mbps.

I also previously pitted 802.11n against HomePlug AV, with 11n coming out on top, using a pair of NETGEAR's WNHDE111s that gave me around 70 Mbps in my test location, in 5 GHz no less!

Innoband's product is the first I've seen to combine 802.11n wireless with HomePlug AV powerline and do it for slightly more than a pair of Homeplug AV only adapters will cost you. I should note, however, while preparing this review, I ran across two similar products: Corinex' Homenet Wireless N Homeplug AV and Billion's BiPAC 2073N.

The Corinex and Billion products both feature dual-stream (300 Mbps maximum link rate) wireless N, while Innoband's 11n AP is single stream (150 Mbps maximum link rate). The Corinex product seems to be the most widely available, while Innoband's is available only from Amazon . I couldn't find any U.S. sources for Billion's product.

Inside Details

Innoband's kit bundles one HomePlug AV Wireless N 210P-I1 and one HomePlug AV 200P-I1. There was no FCC ID anywhere to be found on the 210P-I1 (I'll just call it the 210P from here), so I opened it up for a look.

Figure 1 shows the innards, which consist of powerline and wireless boards connected together. If you look at the lower board in Figure 1, you can see Intellon's logo. This is no surprise, since Intellon (now part of Atheros) is the dominant supplier of HomePlug chipsets. The Innoband 210P uses the INT6400A /INT1400 3rd Gen HomePlug AV chipset married to 8 MB of RAM.

Innoband 210P-I1 board - powerline section
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: Innoband 210P-I1 board - powerline section

A better view of the WLAN board in Figure 2 shows a Ralink RT3052F 11n AP/Router SoC and 16 MB of RAM. The RT3052 can run in 1T1R, 2T2R and 2T3R modes. But with the single antenna, Innoband opted for only 1T1R, i.e. single stream 802.11n operation.

Innoband 210P-I1 board - WLAN section
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: Innoband 210P-I1 board - WLAN section

After I'd opened it up, Innoband replied to my query with an FCC ID of QI3BIL-2073N. This tracks back to the Billion product mentioned above. So it looks like Billion OEMs the module to Innoband.

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