Wireless networking is convenient, but even the quickest variants are subject to the whims of radio waves and it's often pretty hard to get Wi-Fi to run at its top speed, especially with encryption turned on and a few walls in the way. So what's the solution when you really can't run an Ethernet cable? We'd suggest sending data over your home electrical cabling is as good a way as any.
Using electrical cables to transmit data isn't an especially new idea, but it's only recently that we are starting to see the sort of transmission speeds that make it more useful than Wi-Fi. The Solwise Homeplug NET-PL-200AV-PUSH has two distinctive features; the first is that it claims it can operate at 200Mbps. The other is that it will take you significantly less time to get it working than it does to say the name of the product.
The 200Mbps claim is somewhat spurious, especially given the plugs are only fitted with a 100Mbps Ethernet port. The 200Mbps really refers to the maximum speed the technology can achieve. In reality, you should expect throughput of less than 100Mbps. The actual speed you get will be dependent on the quality of your home wiring too, so you'll get better speeds in a new house than an old one.
But the fact is, these plugs are incredibly easy to use, and work like a dream. Hooking them up takes no time at all. You shove one in a mains socket near your router, and one near the device you want to connect to the Internet, and that's pretty much it. We did a little test with a D-Link DSM-330 and had absolutely no problem streaming both standard and high-definition material. It's not usually possible to get HD to stream over Wi-Fi, so we were immediately impressed.
There is encryption available if you need it, but that will only be relevant to people sharing houses who don't want anyone to connect to their network. It's certainly not as important as it is with Wi-Fi, because no one outside your house will be able to connect.
The Solwise Homeplug NET-PL-200AV-PUSH is available for about £40 each, and you'll need a minimum of two to get started. It really is like some magic is happening in your own home. -Ian Morris