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Trendnet TPL-420E2K power-line adapter kit review: Bug fixes haven't made one this a winner

Yardena Arar | Sept. 9, 2015
It sports HomePlug AV2 MIMO, but it lags behind the competition.

tpl 420e2k

Editor's note: This review was originally published on March 30, 2015. TrendNet has since determined that the original hardware had a flaw and has replaced the product. This review is of that revised hardware and includes new benchmark numbers.  

When we surveyed the power-line network landscape in January, the ZyXel PLA5405KIT was the only shipping product based on the fastest version of the Homeplug AV2 standard (commonly called AV2 MIMO). By March, however, Trendnet had joined the fray with its Powerline 1200 AV2 Adapter Kit (TPL-420E2K), but it tested poorly. Trendnet later determined that the product was defective and that it would be replaced. We have revised our review to reflect the results of our retests.

The good news is that the replacement is indeed much faster and its performance more consistent than that of the original unit. Average throughput in my jPerf tests was 164 megabits per second, compared to less than 100 Mbps for the faulty first units. Prices have also gone down; on the street, the two-adapter kit goes for around $80 to $90, compared to $110-plus only a few months ago.

But several more vendors have released AV2 MIMO products since then, and this Trendnet’s performance numbers don’t look that great by comparison. It’s still slower than the ZyXel, and it’s positively pokey compared to the D-Link Powerline AV2 2000 (model DHP-701AV) and the Extollo LANsocket 1500, our reigning speed champs with throughput in the high 300Mbps.

trendnet tpl 420e2k
Click on image to enlarge.

At least with the price drop, the Trendnet is now $20 to $30 less expensive than the super-fast competition. Its current price is about the same as that of the somewhat faster Zyxel kit, making it a tough sell in a market with increased competition.

As with other HomePlug AV2 kits, the Trendnet TPL-420E2K ships with two small boxy adapters that plug directly into wall outlets. Each adapter has a gigabit ethernet port, and the kit includes two five-foot ethernet cables as well (a skimpy length, so you might need to provide your own to connect a network device that isn’t close to the outlet). The size of the adapters might block the second outlet (especially if you need to plug in another wall wart), but they are actually smaller than the faster competition.

To create the power-line network using an existing Wi-Fi router (the most likely scenario for most people), you plug one of the adapters into a free wall outlet and run a cable from its ethernet port to a free LAN port on the router. Now you can plug in the second adapter to a free outlet near a device you wish to add to your network and run the second cable from the adapter to the device’s ethernet port.

 

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