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Today’s Show:

ZyXEL 1200 Mbps Powerline

If you have been with us for a while you know that we have been testing powerline adapters since the beginning. Our first product claimed that it could achieve 85Mbps. And in a controlled world it probably could, but in our homes we were lucky that we got 10Mbps. Still at the time, that was enough bandwidth to support Blu-ray players that didn’t come with built in WiFi. Fast forward to today and almost every device in your home theater needs an Internet connection and almost all come with WiFi. That should be good right? Well with all these connected devices and all your neighbors running wireless routers WiFi may not actually be enough, Especially if you want to stream 4K content.

The good news is that the Powerline technology has improved leaps and bounds from the early days, and now there are devices that support the new AV2 MIMO technology. We saw some of these devices at CES and were told they would be available in the Spring. And wouldn’t you know it, its Spring and we have one that is actually available for sale! The ZyXEL 1200 Mbps Powerline adapter supports AV2 and can be had for less than $95 (Buy Now $93).

The big improvement with this device is that it can use the ground wire to transmit data. The acronym MIMO stands for multiple input multiple output. Theoretically this improves speed and reliability of the connection. ZyXEL claims that it will double the speed and improve reliability by a factor of four of their non-MIMO (600Mbps) devices. But will that translate to actual results?

Setup

Setup really doesn’t need its own heading because it will only take a few words to describe. Plug one adapter into power and connect it to your router. Plug the other adapter into power near the device you want to connect and then plug in your Ethernet cables. That’s it! ZyXEL recommends that you do not plug the adapter into a power strip or even and extension cord. The whole process take about two minutes.

Performance

We can say that these devices have come a long way! ZyXEL have speed Indicator LEDs that let you know how fast your connection is. This is the LED that looks like a house with a plug in it. Green means greater than 80Mbps, amber is between 20 and 80 Mbps, and red is 0 to 20Mbps. Our device was green but when measured with our network tools we were getting between 65 and 75 Mbps. The error could have been in our tool but we feel that the device itself was over estimating the speed.

Regardless, 75Mbps is the fastest we have every seen over our power lines. Not gigabit buy a long shot but fast enough to stream 4K content, browse the web, and listen to music simultaneously. The fastest ZyXEL product we tested prior to this was the ZyXEL 500 back in Podcast #596 where we were able to get 48 Mbps out of it. We didn’t double the speed but we did improve it by 56%. At the time we tested the 500 it cost $75. Now two years later for 25% more money you get almost a 60% improvement in performance. Of course your mileage will vary depending on your wiring and devices you have plugged in.

Conclusion

There is no easier, or cheaper, way to bring a very fast wired connection to your devices. While it is unlikely that you will ever get gigabit speeds through one of these devices, it it very likely that you will have more than enough bandwidth to stream 4K content as it becomes available.

Download Episode #684


Posted by The HT Guys, April 24, 2015 1:30 AM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.