- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 3.6 x 9.9 cm ; 1 Kg
- Shipping Weight: 1 Kg
- Item model number: HLE20043-01KP
- ASIN: B002AMW2WA
- Date first available at Amazon.ca: Nov. 1 2011
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #638,654 in Electronics (See Top 100 in Electronics)
Actiontec MegaPlug 200 Mbps AV Powerline Ethernet Adapter and 4-Port Hub Kit
There is a newer model of this item:
From the Manufacturer
How does it work?
It's simple. The 200 Mbps Powerline Ethernet Adapter and 4-Port Hub Kit uses your home electrical lines to create up to a high speed network throughout your home, giving devices like Blu-Ray players, TiVO or DVRs, gaming consoles, and computers access to the Internet.
Why better than wireless
"Why don't I just use wireless networking instead? I'm more familiar with it."
Because there are some great advantages to powerline technology.
- Powerline products have more consistent transmissions. You won't see the kind of fadeouts and connection drops as you do in wireless.
- Powerline works in places where wireless can't. Powerline will give you a strong connection throughout your electrical system, whether connecting into a concrete basement or throughout a large home.
The 200 Mbps Powerline Ethernet Adapter and 4-Port Hub Kit contains everything you need to create your Powerline home network, and it's very easy to install.
What's in the box?
The 200 Mbps Powerline Ethernet Adapter and 4-Port Hub Kit contains the following:
- One Ethernet 4-port Switch
- One Ethernet adapter
- Two Ethernet cables
- Quick Start guide
Actiontec's Powerline products
Actiontec has a full line of powerline products, each slightly different depending on your needs
|Good Better Best||Best for ...|
|Actiontec Product||Kit||Includes 4-port Ethernet hub||Speed||Extending Wireless Network||Computers/ Gaming/ Blu-Ray/ VoIP||Video/ Home Theaters|
|200 Mbps Ethernet Adapter & 4-port Switch||Yes||Yes|
|85 Mbps Ethernet Adapter twin-pack||Yes||No|
|200 Mbps Ethernet Adapter twin-pack||Yes||No|
|85 Mbps Ethernet Adapter & 4-port hub||Yes||Yes|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Very Easy to set up if you had all the instructions.
A quick review and as typical for me an update will follow. I had everything set up and truly believed the Quick Start Guide when it said no configuration required. Unfortunately.... I first disabled my wireless card in the Windows Control Panel just so I would not have any conflicts. Then I plugged in the two devices as described above. The LEDs on both boxes were green and red, sometimes green and yellow. The Guide said "Make sure both lights turn solid green". The guide warns you not to plug the devices into any outlet that is surge protected or filtered, which I did not. Oh well I said, I started moving both boxes into different outlets and could not get both "link" lights to turn green unless they were plugged into the same outlet. Rats I said. There is no explanation in the guide at all as to what to do when the lights are not both green. NO troubleshooting guide at all. I tried to hook up to the Web, but nothing happened.
Here I will save you the trouble of the hour long process that followed, and just tell how you can save yourself the trouble I had
1. It does not really matter what color the "link" light is. It is only the quality of connection indicator. Please go to the [...] website and download the user manual for the HPE400AVP. There is no manual and no CD with the box you buy and in my case it was the critical missing step. Here is the lights portion of the manual
Red means the condition is poor and less than 50Mpbs,
Orange indicates a fair line condition of 50-100Mbps,
Green means the line is in good condition with over 100Mbps throughput.
Of course since I was using wireless previously in a remote location with a 18 Mpbs transfer speed, even a Red light meant a vastly improved connection. The connection speed varies for me between yellow and red, and always is better than the wireless. My wireless was a Linksys WRT54G with the power setting at 75mw, the distance involved was about 50ft with 3 walls in between.
2. There are small black buttons on both boxes, but NO explanation in the User Guide as to what they do. You have to download the manual for that. They are the security enable keys, and you have to go thru a sequence of four timed presses to set it up. In my trials of various outlets in the house, I must have pressed one or both, but in a wrong sequence and must have messed up the communications, hence even with the connection established, I could not connect to the web. At the time I still thought that it was because I had red lights and they needed to be green. I had to reset both boxes using a pin.
3. At this point following the reset, even though the link light on both boxes was red, the Internet magically appeared. So the setup is truly plug and play, unless like me you believe the dreaded step #13 in the quick setup guide "Make sure both lights are green " or you accidentally press the security buttons.
Finally when set up, and even with my troubles it only took an hour. The connection speed to the web as judged by [...] was 50% faster than my best wireless connection and 3 times better than my worst connection. Great product, and only a one star downgrade for no packaged in manual or CD.
Lastly you may also try the following steps to improve your speed at lower costs.
1. Get an antenna with gain for the router and your wireless card (10-30$, 50% improvement)
2. Change the wireless channel in the router utility (G networks conflict with 2.4 ghz cordless phones)
3. Move the antenna even slightly for possible improvement, Use a utility like network stumbler to fine tune the position
4. If available for your wireless router, get an open source custom firmware for it which will allow you to fine tune the antenna transmit power (I use Tomato).
5. Get an inexpensive N standard router with multiple antennas (used to be called MIMO multiple in multiple out). I have picked up one recently and now all my remaining computers have a better signal as well. While you will not get speds higher than G standard of 54mb, you will get closer to nominal. You would ned a N adapter in the pc as well to get all the benefits.
Happy Powerline and Wireless networking.
Fast forward nearly a decade. By now, wireless Ethernet routers are cheap and easy to use and just about everyone has one.
Into this environment, Actiontec has dumped their new MegaPlug "200 Mbps" powerline network kit.
Your first question, and it's a good one, is: "What's the point?" And for many people the answer will be "none, really, in your situation."
BUT there are two sets of people for whom something like this--if it works--is a godsend.
First off, there are those who simply cannot set up something like a wireless router. It's not hard, but there are still a lot of complete tech phobes out there. Think: your Grandparents, or maybe even your parents. Sure, you could go over and set things up for them. But then what happens the first time the router goes down and needs to be rebooted or whatever? Panic calls at midnight are not most people's idea of bonus time.
The second set of people who could use something like this, if it works, are those with wireless dead spots in their homes. There are a lot of people like this, actually. No matter where you set up the wireless transmitter, some places just get no signal, or a very lousy one. Now, you can--if you are technically inclined--set up a wireless repeater to address issue. But it's a bit tricky for most people who don't relish spending their Friday night shopping the halls of Frys, Microcenter or BestBuy. This kit offers a simple alternative to a wireless repeater.
OK, enough on who might want this. On to the more significant question: Does it actually work, and how easy is it, really, to set up.
I'll answer the second question first. It is ridiculously, stupidly, unbelievably easy to set this up. Plug one unit in one wall outlet. Run ethernet cable from unit to your router. Plug second unit into another wall outlet anywhere else in your house. Run either cable from unit to the device you want to talk to router. And you are done. Even if you have trouble figuring out how to open the door of a refrigerator, it can't take you more than 5 minutes to set up.
And how does it work? SHOCKINGLY well. In a three story home with about 20 separate circuits (lines on their own circuit breakers), I was unable to find two outlets that could not communicate with each other at a reasonable speed, and without any disruptions. You aren't going to see 200Mbps in the real world, but I saw between 24Mbps and 34Mbps, depending on where I placed the two outlet plugs. Before you sneer, this compares to a normal transfer rate of about 18Mbps for a GOOD wireless G connection. In other words, the Actiontec kit gave transfer rates that were between 33% and 90% FASTER than wireless G!
I can recommend this unconditionally to those who need an alternative to standard wireless with one caveat (and it's a big one): This kit is quite pricey. It runs over a hundred bucks at the time of this writing, as compared to a good quality wireless G router, which can be purchased for as little as $30. In addition, this kit is good for connecting only one location to another single location, whereas wireless is...everywhere.
But if you can get past the price, this kit is terrific.
(1) While the HomePlug AV standard is listed as 200 Mbit/sec, this is nowhere near what you'll actually see. With two systems on the same ethernet hub, normal transfer rates are around 11 - 12 Mbit/sec. Two HomePlug adapters in the same room, on the same electrical circuit, may see around 7 Mbit/sec. When you plug them in further apart, the actual transfer rate averages around 5 - 6 Mbit/sec. Please note this is still faster (and arguably more secure ) than a 802.11g wireless connection, and a big improvement over the previous HomePlug 1.0 "turbo" standard (which averaged out at around 1.5 Mbit/sec).
(2) Unlike NetGear, Actiontec does not provide any software utilities for monitoring and configuring the adapters; instead, you end up using a cryptic set of button pushes on the actual adapters. This is really only an issue if you have more than two of these adapters on your network, but then it becomes kind of a pain.
(3) Which leads to the biggest issue with the Actiontec products specifically: Unlike similar HomePlug-compatible devices made by other manufacturers, these are apparently sold paired to each other, even prior to establishing an encrypted network. That means that the two in the box will talk to each other, but if you buy a second kit, the pair in the second kit won't automatically connect to the pair in the original kit. This can be fixed, but the technique for doing so is NOT listed in the instruction manuals, nor is it even listed on the manufacturer's web site for these products. The default process for setting up an encrypted network won't fix this, and I was on the verge of returning both sets before I discovered a one-sheet "readme" in one of the kits which covered the procedure for adding new adapters to an existing setup. This vital set of instructions was only included in one of the kits (and I'm not sure which it was: the kit with the two one-port adapters, or the kit with the four-port switch) so I'm guessing there are people out there who bought two of one kit type, only to be mystified why only two of their adapters don't work.
Overall, I would recommend you find a manufacturer other than Actiontec to buy your HomePlug AV-compatible adapters from if you need to set up more than two of them. Many other companies include an optional configuration utility which makes the process so much easier.
As anyone who has tried helping a parent install a wireless networking product over the telephone can attest to, "networking" has always been synonymous with "complexity". With this product, it took me longer to get over my skepticism, than it did for the product to actually begin working!
# Transfer Rate
This device is rated at 200 Mbps over standard power lines, and 10/100 Mbps over Ethernet. To test this, I connected a notebook to each MegaPlug, both of which were connected to the same wall socket, and transferred a 1.3 GB file. The transfer rate averaged 57 Mbps, over a green Link LED indicating a good line.
[Notebook1 -> MegaPlug1 -> electrical wiring <- MegaPlug2 <- Notebook2]
Checking online quickly confirmed my suspicion that 200 Mbps is probably what can only be achieved under ideal test conditions. In other words, your mileage will definitely vary depending on the quality of the electrical wiring, and other factors such as electrical interference, etc. However, a rate of 57Mbps more than suffices for transmitting high def content, so this is probably as good as it gets.
# Switch Configuration
I also tried connecting one of the wall outlets to my router that is connected to my cable modem, and the other to a separate router in a different room, to which I connected my notebook. That worked just fine as well. So, you really just need one MegaPlug per network access point.
Notebook1 -> Switch -> MegaPlug1 -> electrical wiring <- MegaPlug2 -> Wireless Router -> Cable Modem
Security can be a problem in a multi-unit building since data signals travel through circuit breakers and stop at a transformer. Fortunately, these units come configured for 128-bit AES encryption.
Unfortunately, the User Guide on the ActionTec web site starts by saying "By default the adapters are NOT encrypted." That didn't jibe with what the MegaPlug QuickStart Guide claimed, "These adapters ship with a generic encryption key."
Since there's no way to tell whether on not encryption is enabled, I chose to follow the User Guide's advice.
However, the little black buttons on all your MegaPlugs must be pressed within 2 minutes of starting the process. (I had visions of an entire family darting around like fireflies if they had a full complement of 16 MegaPlugs installed!)
# Why this rating?
This product works as advertised, and provides the comfort of having a relatively secure and stable connection, making it a solid 4-star ("I Like It") product.
However, if I were buying this for a tech novice user, I'd rate it at 5-stars ("I Love It!") since the ease of setup and use would easily trump the convenience and cost of wireless. Ditto if I were trying to establish a network connection to a wireless dead spot.
Averaging this gives me 4.5 stars, and I'm rounding up.
# Updated June 24, 2009:
Whoa! Belkin just announced the first Gigabit (1000 Mbps) Powerline product to reach the market (model F5D4076). As would be expected, it costs a tad bit more.
The max transfer rates will again depend on real-world conditions (such as electrical wiring, interference, etc.) But with 1 Gbps, there should still be plenty of headroom to spare.
I was a little concerned that I'd have to configure settings in each device in order to get it to work. To my great relief this wasn't the case. Connect it and it works. Period.
I simply plugged the base unit into an outlet (a wall outlet is recommended -- the directions warn that it probably won't work with a surge-protector) near my router and then connected the two with the included Ethernet cable (it comes with two Ethernet cables).
Next I plugged in the bigger piece of the Actiontec set -- the one with the four Ethernet ports -- into an outlet in the area of my house where I wanted to place my desktop PC, my Xbox and my Slingbox. I then connected all of the devices with Ethernet cables and they were instantly connected to the Internet. It was a wonderfully elegant customer experience.
Two thumbs up for this product.