While the benefit of networks - being able to share files and resources between one machine and another - is great, the hassle of actually setting one up can be offputting. Wired networks are reliable, but can require lots of drilling and cable. A wireless network alleviates the cable problems, but can be limited in speed and range.

Devolo's MicroLink DLAN Starter Kit aims to offer an alternative, using the mains wiring already present in your home. The £100 kit consists of two DLAN ethernet adapters. Plug them into electricity sockets and they'll create an ethernet connection between the two points - useful if your internet connection is in one room and your PC lives in another.

You can add additional adapters, though at around £55 each, it's a costly way to expand your network.

One area where the DLAN kit can't compete with existing networks, however, is speed. It is only capable of a maximum of 14Mbps (megabits per second) versus 100Mbps for wired ethernet. 802.11g wireless networking may never reach its claimed 54Mbps maximum, but with a good signal should be able to surpass 14Mbps.

Copying a single 516MB file over our wired network took just one minute and eight seconds. Over the DLAN, this jumped to a whopping 13 minutes and 17 seconds.

MicroLink DLAN Starter Kit: Specs

  • 2x DLAN ethernet adapters
  • max speed 14Mbps
  • 2x ethernet cables included
  • maximum range 200m
  • secure encryption
  • Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
  • Linux and Mac OS supported
  • 62x75x75mm
  • 2x DLAN ethernet adapters
  • max speed 14Mbps
  • 2x ethernet cables included
  • maximum range 200m
  • secure encryption
  • Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
  • Linux and Mac OS supported
  • 62x75x75mm

OUR VERDICT

If you want to remove the hassle of installing a wired network or need to connect areas that a wireless network can't reach, Devolo's DLAN starter kit will do the job. But it's an expensive solution, and only really suitable for sharing an internet connection - if you're planning on moving lots of data, you'll quickly find the speed limitation annoying.

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