Netgear XEPS103 powerline power brick

Why plug two boxes into the mains when you only need one?

The unit uses the 85Mbps HomePlug 1.0 Turbo powerline standard, so it's compatible with other such devices and slower, 14Mbps HomePlug 1.0 adaptors. Not, though, Netgear's own HDX101 200MBps powerline adaptor - reviewed here - however, and it's a shame this new product uses the older, slower powerline technology.

Netgear XEPS103 powerline AC adaptor
Netgear's XEPS103: space saver

We tried the XEPS103 with the aforementioned WPN824 router, linking it over the mains to a second 85Mbps powerline adaptor from Devolo - reviewed here. The Devolo was connected to a Belkin N1 802.11n router, and it was a matter of minutes to blanket a London home with wireless coverage using two extra power sockets instead of three.

Incidentally, Netgear is preparing a starter kit that combines the XEPS103 with an XPS103 85Mbps powerline adaptor. Whether bought on its own or in the starter pack, the XEPS103 needs a Windows PC to run the configuration utility, needed if you want to change the password used to encrypt data - using 56-bit DES - sent across the powerline link.

The XEPS103 is also compatible with Netgear's XE104, also an 85Mbps HomePlug 1.0 Turbo product. Unlike the XE103 adaptor, this one operates as a switch and packs in not one, but four 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports. Again, a smart idea because it allows you to connect four networkable devices through a single power socket.

Netgear XEPS103 powerline AC adaptor

This would have been a Godsend a while back when we were testing Sonos' Digital Music System, a Logitech Squeezebox and a Sling Media Slingbox all at the same time. All three operate through a LAN but, thanks to a lack of free power sockets, had to be connected one at a time to a single powerline adaptor.

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