Review: NetGear AV85 Power Line Networking

Earlier this year, I wrote a review on a power line networking product called HomeNet by Corinex over at Gear Diary.  You can see the review here. I generally liked the product; but since the review posted, I’ve had a number of problems with the products. If you don’t have wireless; or if your wireless network doesn’t penetrate everywhere in the house, power line networking could be a GREAT way for you to get online without having to buy an access point or lay CAT5/CAT6 cable throughout your house.  Up until about 5 months ago, I really liked my Corinex products.  They were getting the job done.
Power line networking in YOUR home

Then out of nowhere, the first set of Corinex AV200 adapters I had failed. Fortunately for me, I had a second set.  I had a great deal of difficulty getting them to shoot a signal from one end of my basement to another (or anywhere else in the house for that matter).  The documentation was conflicting/contradictory and I think the adapters were a bit flakey.  They were nothing like the first set.  However, I got them working.  Don’t get me wrong, when they work, they do a great job.  The nice thing about power line networking is that the signal flows through all wiring in your house, extension cords and power strips included.

However, they failed as well.  Out of nowhere, just like the first set, they dropped the network signal, and would NOT resync or carry a signal at all.  To top it off, they would NOT work with the first set at all, so if one in either set was bad, I couldn’t get a signal from any combination of pairings between the GameNet and HomeNet products I had (I was told they were essentially the same by Corinex earlier this year).

The big problem is that I had the documentation for the Corinex products IN HAND; and it didn’t make a bit of difference.  What I did earlier to get the second set to work, wouldn’t work this time.  I tried for about 2.5 hours.  If someone with my experience can’t get a turn key product to work after 2.5 hours of trying, it ain’t gonna work.

NetGear’s Power Line Ethernet Adapter

I made a quick run to Best Buy and bought a set of NetGear AV85 Power Line adapters with a gift card I had been sitting on.  I brought them home, plugged one into an AC outlet near my Linksys wired, 4 port Cable/DSL router, plugged the RJ45 cable into it and watched the lights on it come to life.

I then walked across the basement into my home office and plugged the second unit into the power strip behind my desk.  I plugged the RJ45 cable connected to my Linksys 8 port Workgroup Switch into it, and POOF!  I was back on.  No runs, drips or errors.  Nothin’ but broadband…

I checked the speed I was getting with my connection and was pleasantly surprised.

3.58Mpbs down, 2.86Mbps up. Not bad at all…

While I can get better speed with wireless, it really doesn’t come down to my office very well. The signal is a bit weak, and I really don’t want to rely on it for important computing like writing for JAMM or iTechGear. The signal from the NetGear AV85 power line adapters may not be as fast as any other connection types available to me in the house; but the privacy and consistent connectivity is worth the slower speed.  Besides, nearly 4Mbps down is fast enough for what I’m doing from the Internet. I’m not watching Hulu down here… I’m working.  No, seriously!  I mean it!  (OK, maybe just a little Hulu or other stuff; but with my Hava, I really don’t need Hulu.)

This is the turnkey product I was hoping it would be. Plug it in, hook it up, and it just works. Period.  Not bad, NetGear…not bad.

Conclusion: When I started this article, it was immediately following my return from the store with the NetGear AV85 power line adapters.  I was really frustrated with the Corinex units.  I’ve got 4, and not only would they not work together, they had trouble keeping a signal even after I did get them working.  The NetGear units had a better out of the box experience than the Corinex units, and have a lower entry cost ($40 cheaper than the Corinex units at the time of review). Provided they stay working (like, beyond a year… I’m just sayin’…), they are a much better buy, even at only 85Mpbs as compared to the 200Mbps potential from the Corinex units.

Power line networking works, kids; and its a VERY easy way of bringing a reliable network signal into a room where wireless isn’t available. Its consistency is much better than wireless, and you don’t have to worry about other kinds of radio interference.

Price: The NetGear 85Mbit Power Line Network Adapters are $99.99 and available at most electronics stores (like Best Buy) in your neighborhood. The Corinex AV200 Power Line adapters can be purchased for about $80.00 here.

What I Liked: The NetGear products just worked. You plugged them in, and they worked…instantly. No hoops to jump through…buttons to push…Nothing. They just worked.

What Needs Improvement: With the NetGear equipment. Nothing really. As I mentioned, they just worked.

Disclosure: The Corinex Power Line Networking adapters were provided by Corinex, free of charge to facilitate the review for Gear Diary back in February. The NetGear Power Line Networking adapters were purchased in a fit of desperation.

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