Netgear Powerline 1200 review

If your home now boasts a smart TV to go alongside the digital video recorder ( Sky+ and Tivo), and games consoles, or if you just need another PC away from your modem/router then it’s likely that a Powerline network will solve many of your download woes.

For many of us our Wi-Fi just can’t cope with all our new Internet needs, and we’re crying out for a fast wired network to empower all our smart Internet-ready devices.

Powerline is a home-based technology that’s stipidly easy to set up, and creates a wired home network in a matter of minutes. Really. It uses your existing home electrical wiring to transmit data from your modem/router to the room where all your home-entertainment and digital devices live. See Powerline explained.

The latest, fastest variant of Powerline is labelled Gigabit 1,200Mbps, replacing older 200Mbps and 500Mbps versions. See our favourites in our Best Powerline adapters round up.

The Netgear Powerline 1200 is one of this new breed of Powerlines. See the boxes below this review for the latest, cheapest prices.

Netgear Powerline 1200 PLP1200 wall socket

Forget about the claimed speeds on any Powerline, from any manufacturer. These 500Mbps or 1,200Mbps speeds are theoretical maximums, and you’ll be lucky to reach over 120Mbps in most real-world scenarios.

Don’t worry though, as even an average 500Mbps Powerline (apparently trudging at 60-70Mbps) will greatly speed up your catch-up TV or Internet download times.

The 1,200Mbps Powerlines fly in comparison.

Netgear Powerline 1200 review: design, features and set up

Netgear Powerline 1200 PL1200 adapters

There are two models of Netgear Powerline 1200: The PL1200 (above) is a pretty basic system, with one Gigabit Ethernet port per adapter (you get two in the pack, along with two Ethernet cables).

The PLP1200 (below) is the same, but with the addition of a handy PassThrough socket on the front of each adapter. This means that you don’t lose a valuable wall power socket in each room where you deploy the Powerlines. This adds about a tenner onto the price, and makes the adapters taller too. For the extra money we’d recommend the PLP1200.

(Don’t be tempted to plug it into an extension block as this will noticeably affect download speeds.)

Netgear Powerline 1200 PLP1200 adapters

But both lack features that you may desire. For example, that solitary Gigabit Ethernet port. If you have multiple devices (smart TV, Tivo, Sky+, games console) that one port is not going to connect everything to your network, is it?

You can, of course, swap out the Ethernet cable to the particular device you need at the time, but this can be a pain. Or you can invest an extra £20 or so on an extra multi-port Ethernet Switch.

(I have a two-port Powerline adapter and still need a switch for all my devices!)

Other Powerline adapters can boast two or even three Ethernet ports on that second-room adapter, which you may want to consider instead. If you just need the one then this is not a limitation that will bother you.

Set up, as with all Powerlines, is too simple for words … but here goes: just plug one adapter into a wall power socket near your modem/router, and connect with the supplied Ethernet cable. Then plug the second adapter in to a socket near the TV or whatever device you want to hook up to your network, and connect via Ethernet. That’s it.

Some other Powerline adapters boast a wireless function that creates a new Wi-Fi hotspot in that second (or third or fourth) room. This is especially useful if you suffer a faded wireless signal in different parts of your house. Neither of the two Netgear Powerline 1200 models has a wireless capacity.

Netgear Powerline 1200 PLP1200 PassThrough

Netgear Powerline 1200 review: speed tests

We always test in the same manner and same environment, and with the same test procedures to achieve as close to consistent results as we can manage. But my experience will likely be very different to yours. What we can be pretty sure about is comparative speeds, and the Netgear Powerline 1200 adapters performed well, racing past the 500Mbps-rated adapters and just about level with the other 1,200Mbps Powerlines.

Our average real-world speed score for these latest adapters was 105Mbps – miles below the claimed 1,200Mbps but enough to greatly improve on your home network if you rely on standard Wi-Fi. The Netgear adapters reached 102Mbps. The similar Trendnet Powerline 1200 AV2 just pipped it at 110Mbps.

You may well get even faster speeds. It all depends on your home set up, electrical wiring, and whatever else you have plugged in. to the circuit. Battery chargers and microwaves, for example, will ruin your Powerline speeds when switched on.

We have got over 400Mbps with a 1,200Mbps-rated Powerline but in a less realistic situation with the two adapters next to each other on a wall socket. Once separated by a couple of floors and 15 metres or so the envirnmental limiting factors of a house set in. But even at a real-world 100Mbps, Powerline will dramatically improve your download times in the second room.

Netgear admits that top speeds will be well below the stated Megabits Per Second rating, as the adapters have a traffic light LEDs that tell you about link rate. The lowest is Red, which Netgear calls "Good" at under 50Mbps. Amber ("Better") scores between 50-80Mbps. And Green ("Best") has a link rate above 80Mbps. Our test results of over 100Mbps aren't bad, then!

Netgear Powerline 1200 PLP1200 PassThrough adapter

Check out all our Powerline adapter reviews and also our group test of the best Powerline adapters we've tested. You can get more information on Powerline including explanations of Powerline speed myths and lots of tips and trick in our feature What Is Powerline.

Netgear Powerline 1200 (PL1200 and PLP1200): Specs

  • 1200Mbps Powerline adapters x 2
  • one Gigabit Ethernet port per adapter
  • PLP1200 also features PassThrough sockets.
  • 1200Mbps Powerline adapters x 2
  • one Gigabit Ethernet port per adapter
  • PLP1200 also features PassThrough sockets.

OUR VERDICT

Powerline adapters are brilliant for making fast and simple home networks, and the Netgear Powerline 1200 models passed our speed and set up tests with ease. Of the two models we think paying extra for the PLP1200 with PassThrough sockets is worth the additional expense compared to the cheaper PL1200. Sadly both are rather limited by their no-frills features, though: one Ethernet port per adapter and lack of wireless mean these are relatively basic but will still make a huge difference to your home network and PC/entertainment download speeds.