D-Link DHP-301 PowerLine HD Ethernet Starter Kit

Products such as D-Link's DHP-301 PowerLine HD Ethernet Starter Kit are becoming increasingly popular. Rather than send the data across a Wi-Fi network, with this PowerLine ethernet bridge you can use the main power circuit instead.

Today's IT world seems to be going wireless crazy. But not everyone will get all the benefits of Wi-Fi. In particular, even 802.11g and draft n aren't always able to reach all the way around a house or intricate office building. That's why products such as D-Link's DHP-301 PowerLine HD Ethernet Starter Kit are so prevelant.

Plug the D-Link DHP-301's network cable into a spare network port on your router, and connect the other end to the port on one of the two DHP-301 adaptors. The latter is then plugged into a standard power socket.

In another room, you do the same with your PC or Xbox or media player. The D-Link DHP-301 tells you all is well when its three LEDs light up – for power, PowerLine and network. If you want to configure its encryption or QoS settings, a simple configuration tool lets you do this.

We plugged one of the D-Link DHP-301's Powerline adaptors in a first floor bedroom and the other in our kitchen. To be awkward we plugged them into extensions leads and socket adaptors, something you're not supposed to do.

The good news is that it didn't stop them from working. Using Ixia QCheck to measure throughput revealed that the D-Link DHP-301 could manage 27Mbps (megabits per second) occasionally, but throughput was often in single figures – performance was quite variable on our electric circuit.

We then swapped the D-Link DHP-301 kit for the identically priced Devolo dLAN 200 AVDesk, QCheck showed it to offer faster, more consistent performance, with throughput peaking at 34Mbps. But while this is some 20 percent faster, it's still a mile short of the purely theoretical '200Mbps' they both quote on the box.

The usual PowerLine cons apply in equal measure to the D-Link DHP-301. While it's a cute-looking device, it's a bit too big and overhangs adjacent power sockets. It's bad enough losing one power socket to it - blocking another socket is downright irritating. The MAC address label is affixed to the socket side so you have to unplug it in order to read it.

Lastly, this device runs hot and there have been a number of tales on the internet concerning the premature death of the D-Link DHP-301 - not great given that you might wish to leave it on 24x7.

D-Link DHP-301 PowerLine HD Ethernet Starter Kit: Specs

  • 802.3 Ethernet/802.3u Fast Ethernet
  • 3pin plug (standard UK)
  • Port 10/100 Base-TX with auto MDI/MDIX
  • RJ-45 connector
  • OFDM symbol modulation
  • 802.1P Priority Queues
  • Adapters 101x71x37mm
  • 172g
  • 802.3 Ethernet/802.3u Fast Ethernet
  • 3pin plug (standard UK)
  • Port 10/100 Base-TX with auto MDI/MDIX
  • RJ-45 connector
  • OFDM symbol modulation
  • 802.1P Priority Queues
  • Adapters 101x71x37mm
  • 172g

OUR VERDICT

All PowerLine hardware is relatively pricey and the D-Link DHP-301 PowerLine HD Starter Kit is no different. While the DHP-301 works easily enough, it disappoints on the performance front. As a result it's hard to recommend it over the current leader of the PowerLine pack, the Devolo dLAN 200 AVdesk.

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