Wi-Fi is good for some things, but when it comes to big-bandwidth applications such as streaming video it really doesn't cut the mustard. Sure, with 802.11n arriving the future is a little brighter, but that doesn't help the people using slower systems. What you need is to send your network signals via your home electrical wiring. Don't worry, the risk of death is greatly reduced by using an expertly made piece of HomePlug equipment.
The Devolo dLAN 200 AVeasy Starter Kit is certainly constructed by people who know what they're doing. And it has everything you need to get started with powerline networking. You get two plugs in the box, a pair of Ethernet cables to connect them to your devices and a handy quick-start guide. A CD is included, which contains some additional quality of service software -- useful for prioritising certain kings of traffic, such as VoIP -- but this isn't essential, because the adaptors are plug-and-play devices.
At the bottom of each plug is a small button. If you press it, the data transmitted will be encrypted to prevent nefarious hacker types. Encryption might also be useful to flat sharers who don't trust each other, but the HomePlug signals can't escape a ring main or go past the consumer unit, which means your data can't be accessed by people who live in a different house, even in a block of flats.
On the front of each plug are three easy-to-understand icons that glow, depending on the status of the network. The first one indicates there's power to the plug, the second illuminates when a Homeplug network is detected and two or more plugs are talking to each other. The third LED simply lets you know when there is network activity.
We've been using using HomePlugs for some time now in the Crave penthouse, and we really do think they're the bee's knees. Wi-Fi doesn't come close on speed, and our landlord has warned us before about knocking holes in the walls for CAT5, so these are the ideal solution. They're available now, and cost around £100.
If you're in any doubt about buying a set, just look at that pack shot. Look at that woman. She knows all about networking, you can tell. She wants you to enjoy your life and not waste it with patchy Wi-Fi and trailing cables. Listen to her, she's got blue eyes and a keen understanding of IP routing. We love you Devolo pack woman. –Ian Morris