Powerline networking shines at streaming media applications, but most HomePlug adapters support only one network device, and today’s home entertainment centers may have two, three, or more. The TP-Link TL-PA8030P KIT addresses the issue with a pair of high-performance HomePlug AV2 MIMO adapters that have three ethernet ports instead of the usual one.
Of course, you could also simply connect a single-port adapter to an ethernet switch with four or more ports (I use a 16-port hub in my own media center). But if you only have two or three devices to connect—a media streamer, a video-game console, and a Blu-ray Disc player, for instance—the TP-Link TL-PA8030P is a simpler (and at $100, perhaps cheaper) solution than a single-port adapter and a switch.
TP-Link’s three-port adapters also provide a pass-through electrical outlet, so you don’t lose the use of the outlet you’ve plugged the TP-Link into. That’s fortunate, since this adapter is among the bulkiest we’ve seen, and make connecting a plug into the second port of a typical wall outlet all but impossible.
TP-Link also gets kudos for providing 6.5-foot ethernet cables, longer than most we’ve seen in HomePlug AV2 MIMO kits lately. Longer cables give you greater flexibility in positioning network devices vis a vis the outlet the adapter plugs into. TP-Link provides only one cord for each adapter, so you’ll need to provide your own to use the second and third ethernet ports.
The TL-PA8030P kit is not particularly fast compared to other HomePlug AV2 MIMO adapters. Its 200 megabit-per-second average in our JPerf throughput tests was solid for AV2 MIMO gear based on chips that operate on the 2-to 68MHz frequency of electrical wiring, it fell far short of the 300-plus mbps speeds we’ve seen with competitors based on chips that use the full 2- to 86MHz spectrum the standard supports.
Advocates of using the narrower frequency range, on the other hand, claim that practice will deliver more consistent performance in environments with more electrical noise—say, a home with older wiring than that of my 1996-era loft.
Bottom line: the TP-Link TL-PA8030P Kit’s three-ethernet port configuration makes it worth considering for a small household where multiple simultaneous users won’t need the fastest gear available, with a home entertainment center that has two or three network devices. That may be a pretty good-sized niche.
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