Friday, May 10, 2013

Amped Wireless PLA2 Review

Amped Wireless PLA2 Homeplug AV500 adapter kit

1. Intro
2. Features
3. Performance
4. Conclusion

The Amped Wireless PLA2 Homeplug AV500 Kit is Amped’s first Homeplug AV kit. They released this product at the request of their customers, which shows they are really dedicated at keeping customers happy and providing them with a complete solution for their networking needs. The kit comes with two PLA2 homeplug adapters, and two cat5 networking cables to get you started. Instant installation allows you to get your wired PCs up in running in no time. The PLA2 features LED lights to indicate connection quality/status as well as encryption status.

The PLA2 has three LEDs on the bottom of the unit that indicate connection quality/status.
Network: Port connection
Powerline: Network connection
Power: Power connection

The powerline LED has 3 colors to indicate connection quality:
Red: Poor signal (Slow or unusable connection) (1-5)
Orange: Medium signal (Average network speed (5-10)
Green: Excellent signal (Optimal network speed (10+)

Used to create a secure connection between devices. To setup security, hold down the button for 1-3 secs. On each adapter.  The PLA2 has 128 bit encryption.

Pass-through plug:
It also has a very handy pass-through plug so you don’t give up the outlet. However I did find it was a little difficult to plug things into. You have to use a little extra force then connecting them directly into the outlet. Other than that the feature is definitely needed in my house and many other manufacturers do not include that extra outlet. So that was very thoughtful of Amped to include that.

Internet performance:
The Amped Wireless PLA2 appears to be working the same as being connected through straight cat5 to the router.  Uploads and downloads go at pretty much the same speeds as the standard cable run (We have a 22Mbps down and 1.5Mbps up subscribed connection) YouTube uploads were the same as with the direct cat5 connection to the router!

Gaming performance:
The Amped Wireless PLA2 has been performing great with online gaming. The connection to the Minecraft server has been stable and doesn’t lag. He is able to browse the internet and game at the same time with no noticeable performance degradation.

Streaming performance:
I streamed a BR rip of a 3d animated film and it looked great. I did not experience any stuttering. This was a 1080p BR rip as well. Seeking was easy and it didn’t crash VLC media player.

File transfer performance:
Please note: My houses’ electrical is not the best and my house is kind of a Pandora’s box, if you will, due to it being renovated over a span of several decades by some contractors that are of highly questionable quality

The first screenshot is directly connected to the wall outlet on both ends:

This one is connected to a surge protector power strip going to the router: (Amped notes that this degrades performance)

Connection quality/stability:
My husband is the one that is using this most of the time since his PC is in a different room then the router is and that’s where my PC is.  As far as throughput he can’t really tell the difference between the PLA2 and being connected with the cat5 cable so far as internet speeds go. However file transfers are slower than being connected over cat5 cable. It may cut out once a day sometimes though as he did complain about it a couple times to me. I do not recommend using this for something that needs good uptime like a server unless you have really good electrical in your house. My house is old and the contractors in my area are not the best, so please keep this in mind.

Please note: I do not recommend having a device with a power brick (Like a laptop or a Motorola barcode scanner charging cradle) connected to the same outlet. I had a power brick on the charging cradle for my Motorola barcode scanner and it would drop out 2-4 times a day for about a minute each time. I unplugged it and that problem went away. Now, the documentation does indicate the following: Plugging the Powerline adapter on the same power outlet as a smartphone/tablet charger will degrade performance. So please keep this in mind when using the PLA2.

Product Suggestions:
I do have one suggestion and this is the first time this will be brought up… It would be nice if Amped Wireless would offer some management software to check link status and encryption status/setup. I have seen this on some TP-Link adapters and I think this would be an excellent addition to the PLA2.

The Amped Wireless PLA2 is a good way to eliminate trip hazards with cat5 cables if the electrical in your home is decent. The internet/gaming performance was great and the PLA2 also adds the extra outlet so you don’t sacrifice that. It did have occasional cut-outs.

Easy install
Extra outlet
Decent internet connection speeds

Not recommended for houses with bad electrical due to occasional cut-outs
Slower file transfers then cat5 cable
Extra outlet is kinda hard to plug things into

Overall: 7/10

UPDATE: Added soundcloud link

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