Devolo dLAN 500 AVtriple+ Review
Devolo have already made a name for themselves, establising their dLAN range of homeplugs at the forefront of powerline networking. The ability to turn your home or office electrical wiring and sockets into a ready-made PC network has revolutionised environments where wireless isn't feasible; there is no longer a need to run ethernet cables through unattractive trunking around your walls! Initial homeplugs managed a maximum throughput of around 85mbps, although achieving this figure was all but impossible with 50mbps being a much more realistic target; 200mbps plugs came next offering an average throughput of around 100mbps in the real world - it was this threshold that made homeplugs a feasible alternative to ethernet - it may not be gigabit, but its enough to support full 1080p HD video with no stuttering and offer a perfectly decent connection to a network file server.
Devolo have now pushed speeds up further with their 500mbps dLAN 500 series of adapters. With fibre-optic internet and faster cable becoming widely adopted in the UK via BT Infinity and Virgin, the need for faster home networks to allow users to take advantage of these blisteringly fast speeds means that wireless is fast becoming the bottleneck and a potential top end of 500mbps via your home wiring goes some way to providing a solid infrastructure.
There are a number of options in the dLAN 500 range - from the basic AV Mini one-port adapters, the AVPlus range which add a socket to replace the one the plug takes up and the AVTriple Plus which we're reviewing here. The latter ads three ethernet ports AND the additional plug socket to allow multiple devices to be connected without the need for an additional router. This kind of consolidation into one unit leads to much tidier wiring and better energy efficiency which has to be a good thing.
Wiring up the system is simple - it really is plug-in-and-play - pop the adapters in sockets where you need them and then run an ethernet cable to your router or device. At it's most basic, that's all you need to do. It is possible to connect both dLAN 500 and 200 adapters on the same network using the supplied dLAN Cockpit software, which also doubles up as a performance monitor.
Each adapter has a security code to ensure that your network can't be compromised by unauthorised rogue homeplugs being added without your knowledge. No plug can be added to an established network without being permitted via the software.
200mbps was a decent upgrade over the initial 85mbps homeplug standards; it ensured solid performance and support for stutter free HD video on all but the worst wiring. Unfortunately, in all of our speed tests the 500mpbs plugs have left us disappointed. Whether run on their own network or coupled with 200mbps adapters, we didn't see any performance jump - in fact, there were times that the officially slower plugs outperformed their higher rated siblings; this is in a house that has nearly-new wiring having been rewired in the last six months.
We did note that the 500mbps plugs suffered from less speed volatility and were far more consistent in their throughput - the peaks and troughs in performance were never quite as pronounced as the 200mbps adapters and for larger files we did record slightly better transfer times. We were able to juggle the locations of our plugs testing various sockets and even at their best, the most we achieved from the 500mbps plug was 156mbps. Using 200mbps adapters in the same locations resulted in a speed of 136mbps when reported through the dLAN Cockpit software. On the flip side, the fastest speeds of the overall test were achieved momentarily with the 200mbps adapters - a decent 162mbps.
Performance disappointments don't detract from the fact that Devolo's homeplugs lead the pack by quite some margin. They're reliable well-built devices that do exactly what they claim with no complicated setup or configuration.