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Belkin Powerline HD

Belkin Powerline HD Gigabit mains Ethernet adaptor

High-speed networking through a three-pin plug?

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Review Belkin's Gigabit Powerline HD mains-wiring network adaptor is the first we've seen to claim to be able to delivery data transfer rates of up to 1000Mb/s.

We stress the word 'claim' and the phrase 'up to'. Makers of powerline kit also market adaptors that, they say, deliver bandwidth of up to 200Mb/s. But no one who uses one will ever get a data throughput anywhere near that. Almost every 200Mb/s adaptor uses a 10/100 Ethernet port, capping the throughput at 100Mb/s.

Belkin Powerline HD

Belkin's Powerline HD: capable of Gigabit speeds?

That's because real-world powerline speeds are occasionally slightly above but usually lower than 100Mb/s. There's simply no point in the vendor integrating a Gigabit Ethernet port: the link speed means you'll never get any advantage from it.

Powerline isn't alone in this. All networking kit performs some way below the maximum speed quoted by vendors to make sure their offerings don't appear slower than anyone else's. It's high time the networking industry came up with a better measure, but don't hold your breath waiting for one.

Back to Belkin. Its Powerline HD adaptor does have a Gigabit Ethernet port, and that's because it can indeed deliver real-world speeds well above those that 200Mb/s adaptors can manage - whether they use the HomePlug AV standard or the rival UPA specification. And it delivers speeds above 100Mb/s.

Belkin's shiny black box uses HomePlug AV technology, so it's compatible with existing adaptors of that type from any vendor, though connecting it to one will see the link speed fall back to well under 100Mb/s.

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