Justin Lee On March 29, 2005 at 9:19 am

Networking in a home can either be Heaven on Earth or Hell on Earth. You can encounter such problems as WiFi not reaching your Xbox or having wads of blue Ethernet cabling all over the place to your router. This is where the Iogear Powerline Networking kit comes into play, turning your household outlets into a network jack.

Even if you are totally new at networking, the premise of this device is simple: Just imagine that the Iomega Powerline Wallmount unit is a way to turn your electrical outlets into a network cord. The range is quite crazy at up to 990 feet (300 meters) and may actually show up on a next-door neighbors house, but is unlikely.

Here are some of the features:
• Extend your Wi-Fi network through the existing powerline
• Network your gaming devices through powerline, to play games with a remote partner
• No extra wires required to create a network, simply use the most pervasive medium in your home – powerlines
• Very easy and intuitive to install and set up
• HomePlug Powerline Specifications 1.0 compliant
• Up to 14 Mbps bandwidth
• Up to 990 feet (300 meters) range through powerlines, sufficient for most households
• Worldwide compatibility
• Low risk of interference by other RF sources
• 56-bit DES encryption assures data security
• Encryption done by hardware, with no sacrifice to bandwidth
• Most reliable home networking technology

My first test was to get my Playstation 2 that is in downstairs basement hooked up to the router I had upstairs. I just found an empty outlet (do not plug this into a power bar of any kind) in the upstairs room near the router and one downstairs right next to the Playstation 2. I then tried to use the included insanely short Ethernet cable and gave up by using a 15 foot cord I had lying around instead. Everything went smoothly, it was as if my Playstation 2 was hooked up to a really long Ethernet cord to upstairs! Instead of a long Ethernet cord, I was using the power lines in my home to get the Playstation 2 to the router upstairs. Same for the Xbox, the router saw the console with no problems at all. I also dragged my main computer to the basement and tried it out. The only problem I encountered was my Emachines 5305 laptop; the Powerline adapter refused to work with it anywhere in the house. The really strange part, if I hooked up a PC to the unit and then switched the Ethernet cable to the laptop, it would WORK! I blame the onboard nic for now, but just a word of warning.

The powerline bridge is quite large and will cover up the outlet, the only pain is that you can not plug this into a power bar because it would filter out the “noise” and no data would get through.

Out of the box, this unit is quite “newbie proof” you just plug in the unit and then the Ethernet cord into the device (PC, Xbox or Playstation 2) and then the other end goes into the hub/router/PC. You really can’t screw up this installation at all unless you jam a fork into it! There are tons things with the Iogear Powerline wallmount bridges, such as having your DSL/Cable modem in one room and the PC or Console in another room. Hook up one of the powerline bridges to a free Router port and extend the router to the basement where your gaming console is!

The claim of 14 megabit is quite hard to reach, I managed around 10-11 megabit on my old home’s electrical wiring. 10 megabit is fine for gaming or high speed Internet, but if you are trying to use it for your multimedia video center…you will find it slow to transfer large files.

If you are concerned about your neighbor packing sniffing your power line, you must have a PC at both ends in order for the DES encryption to work. The DES encryption cannot be configured if you are using this to extend your computer to a router or an Xbox to a router/high speed modem, the two PC’s must be configured for the encryption.

Another nifty feature is the NODE mode where you can purchase tons of these devices and put them around the house so you can have Internet in multiple rooms without buying new wireless cards for each device. This mode however, requires a PC again.

Instead of buying an expensive 802.11 bridge for your Xbox or Playstation 2, why not just buy this kit for under $90 USD? The Iogear Powerline Networking kit comes with two power line adapters and two short 6-foot Ethernet cables to hook up to the network cards.

The easiest networking installation you’ll ever do, plug and use.  Kinda slow, up to 14 megabit only; refused to work with test laptop unit (Emachines 5305).

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