The D-Link DHP-303 is an HD PowerLine HD network kit that provides plug-and-play operation and top-notch high-definition video streaming.

'So far so what', you might think. But under the hood, the D-Link DHP-303 has a different engine. The DHP-303 PowerLine HD Network Starter Kit is the only kit we've seen recently based on the Universal Powerline Association (UPA) standard; all of the others use HomePlug AV technology.

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As a result, D-Link adaptors such as the D-Link DHP-303 are not interoperable with HomePlug AV adaptors. But since we advise buyers to stick to one vendor for ease of support, that's something of a moot point - although worth bearing in mind if you're adding to existing kit.

Whereas HomePlug AV kits use AES encryption, the D-Link DHP-303 kit uses 3-DES encryption - an older standard that is more CPU-intensive and marginally less secure (though both 3-DES and AES are more than adequate for home use).

Despite the extra overhead of 3-DES, the D-Link D-Link DHP-303 far outperformed the HomePlug AV kits we've tested recently, with sustained throughput in the range of 85 to 90 mbps. (The HomePlug AV kits maxed out at 62 to 69 mbps.)

The D-Link DHP-303 kit has a power-saving mode and push-button encryption that works in much the same way as the system that HomePlug AV models use. A software utility lets you set a specific encryption passphrase and prioritise network traffic - a useful option when you have multiple devices connected via powerline and want to ensure uninterrupted TV streaming.

The only significant downside to the D-Link DHP-303 kit: is that the company doesn't sell multiple-port adaptors, a feature that greatly reduces the cost of networking multiple home-theatre components and conserves scarce wall plugs.

If you buy, be sure to get the DHP-303 kit. The older D-Link DHP-301 PowerLine HD Ethernet Kit looks very similar (and has a similar name), but has far lower throughput and lacks push-button encryption.

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D-Link DHP-303: Specs

  • D-Link DHP-303/B Powerline 200M HD Ethernet Adapter Kit, Push button config & Powersave
  • Universal Powerline Association (UPA) standard
  • Network Connection: 1 x RJ-45
  • Compliance: IEEE 802.3/IEEE 802.3u
  • 3-DES encryption
  • System Requirements: PC with 200MHz processor, 64MB memory, Ethernet interface (100Mbps)
  • supports: Windows 2000 (SP4)/(SP2)/Vista
  • Voltage/Power/Frequency: 100 to 240VAC/50 to 60Hz
  • 99x74x61mm
  • 0.13kg
  • D-Link DHP-303/B Powerline 200M HD Ethernet Adapter Kit, Push button config & Powersave
  • Universal Powerline Association (UPA) standard
  • Network Connection: 1 x RJ-45
  • Compliance: IEEE 802.3/IEEE 802.3u
  • 3-DES encryption
  • System Requirements: PC with 200MHz processor, 64MB memory, Ethernet interface (100Mbps)
  • supports: Windows 2000 (SP4)/(SP2)/Vista
  • Voltage/Power/Frequency: 100 to 240VAC/50 to 60Hz
  • 99x74x61mm
  • 0.13kg

OUR VERDICT

Overall, the D-Link DHP-303 kit is a top-notch performer with easy encryption setup and useful features such as a software utility and a power-saving mode. Just buy the correct kit, and make sure you're existing equipment is compatible.

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