The Netgear Powerline 200 Mini is a basic but slow set of Powerline adapters that quickly and simply turn your home power lines into a home network.
Powerline is a really easy to install technology that uses the power lines in your home to create a network that is much faster than standard home Wi-Fi.
You simply plug one adaptor into the power socket near your internet router, attach an ethernet cable between router and Powerline, then plug the other adapter into a power socket in another room where you need network access – most likely a study for a PC or the living room.
Smart TVs now mostly have an ethernet port for fast downloading of catch-up TV, as do most set-top boxes such as Sky+, Tivo and Apple TV. While you can usually use Wi-Fi to stream iPlayer-type services or download movies from LoveFilm, Netflix and iTunes you'll get much faster rates using an ethernet cable.
But few of us want to string an ethernet cable from our router to the TV, especially if it's in another room in the house!
Powerline solves this problem by using the house power lines as an extension of the ethernet cable, and it's super-simple to install.
The Netgear Powerline 200 Mini uses 200Mbps technology, which sounds easily fast enough but this is where Powerline's dirty secret is revealed. Manufacturers claim Powerline speeds at either this 200Mps or a faster 500Mbps – but you won't ever get these speeds because they're theroetical maximums, not real-world truth.
Actual speeds are severely limited by your own home's electrics, distance from the router, and interference from other gadgets – especially phone chargers and microwaves.
Indeed because this set uses 10/100Mbps ethernet you simply can't get faster than 100Mbps. So the 200Mbps is a load of baloney, basically. Don't blame Netgear, this is an industry standard boast that just doesn't wash.
Ok, so we can forget the claimed 200Mbps speeds. How did the Netgear Powerline 200 actually perform in our real-world tests?
Powerline testing procedure
We tested the Netgear Powerline 200 Mini in a Victorian house with fairly old wiring and the usual array of electronic devices (TV, Sky+, Hi-Fi, lamps, microwave, computers, etc) plugged into the power lines. The Internet router was situated in the office on the second floor, and we used Powerline to test data speed on the ground floor.
If your house was built more recently you may well achieve faster speeds than we did, but we use this house to get consistent speeds for a proper Powerline comparison.
As expected the 200Mbps claimed speed wasn't met in any of our tests.
We got speeds up to 75Mbps but the house average was 38Mbps using Powerline and ethernet. This isn't bad for a 200Mbps-rated Powerline device but is noticeably slower than the 500Mbps Powerline sets that average around 45-70Mbps and peak at about 100Mbps.
We don't recommend 200Mbps Powerline solutions if you want to stream HD content to your TV or need to shift large files around your home, but at such a low price the Netgear 200 Mini offers good value for lower usage such as standard-definition iPlayer. If you can afford the extra go for 500Mbps for quicker downloads.
Some of the more advanced and faster 500Mbps Powerline solutions also include wireless functionality to speed up your home Wi-Fi. Netgear's own Netgear Powerline 500 WiFi Access Point is well worth considering if you want faster speeds and wireless functionality.