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Trendnet TPL-420E2K power-line adapter kit review: Slower and more expensive isn't a good combo

Yardena Arar | March 31, 2015
When we surveyed the power-line network landscape in January , only one product based on the fastest version of the Homeplug AV2 standard was available. Promising nominal speeds up to 1200 megabits per second, the ZyXel PLA5405KIT was faster than anything we tested, but it was also the most expensive kit in the roundup. Now Trendnet joins the fray with its Powerline 1200 AV2 Adapter Kit (Trendnet's model number TPL-420E2K). Trendnet's offering falls short of Zyxel's in terms of performance, and its current street price is $17 higher.

Even if your home has grounded wiring, you should be aware that the quality of your electrical circuitry can significantly impact the performance of power-line networking devices. In addition to running tests in the same location (my home) that I used for the last group of product tests, I tried out the Trendnet TPL-420E2K in a different home and was unpleasantly surprised to see that speeds in one room were dismal 20-25 Mbps, or even slower than the slowest AV 600 products. Yet in other rooms the speeds equaled those recorded in my own home. A Trendnet spokesperson attributed the poor performance in the one room to incorrect (or possibly crossed) wiring. Sadly, there's no obvious way to determine beforehand whether your network environment suffers from such flaws.

Prices for power-line adapters have dropped significantly since our last roundup, with the street price of ZyXel's PLA5405KIT dropping the most: From $140 in January to $93 today. Trendnet's TPL-420E2K carries a list price of $130; we found it selling online for $110. It pays to shop around, though. Amazon has great prices on some power-line adapter models, but the Trendnet TPL-420E2K was available there only through one of its third-party merchants — Interlinkseller — which had it listed for sale at $162, $32 higher than Trendnet's suggested retail price.

Given that ZyXel's adapter is both faster and less expensive than Trendnet's, the ZyXel PLA5405KIT remains our top choice in high-speed power-line adapters.


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