Last updated on September 3rd, 2015 at 10:20 am
Recently Devolo was kind enough to send me their new dLAN 1200+ WiFi Ac Powerline Adapter to review.
Powerline adapters are quite an interesting product that plug into your mains and then use your home wiring to create a wired network. This may seem like a step backward compared to WiFi but if you leave in a moderately sized house, with brick walls you will have almost certainly suffered the issue of WiFi signals significantly dropping off. This issue is becoming increasingly problematic with the growth in online gaming and streaming. Buffering videos and lag with online gaming are possible the 2 most annoying things ever, and powerline adapters can almost completely negate this issue. The dLan 1200+ operates at a theoretical maximum of 1,200 Mbps which should be more than enough for any modern networking requirement including streaming 4k.
The dLAN power adapter we are reviewing takes the technology a little further and has a built in WiFi access point on the end plug, so you can create 2nd access point in your house that will then connect to your router via the powerline, meaning you should get a significantly better signal than the original WiFi spot or from WiFi boosters.
Installation of the adapter is about as simple as it gets, you literally plug the devices into the sockets you want, connect the non WiFi adapter to your router via ethernet, and then wait for them to connect. Both lights on the WiFi adapter should turn white. You can simply connect to the WiFi via the supplied details.
If you want do a more advanced setup you can login to the adapter via its IP. You can then mess around with the WiFi settings as you would with any router/access point, set up guest accounts, parental control and filters. Overall it is very straightforward to use.
On important factor to take into account is that the dLAN is fully backwards compatible with older devices, I have a very old dLAN 200 and it works absolutely fine with it.
In terms of performance powerline adapters have always been a little misleading with the claims of powerline speed. The claimed speeds are clearly established in some sort of perfect lab condition over short distances. In reality the distance between the devices and the quality of your home wiring will have a drastic impact on the speed. This may seem like a bit of a con, but it is the same as WiFi, no one ever gets claimed WiFi speeds. Funily enough the dLAN only has 1000mb/s ethernet so even if by some miracle your house was able to achieve 1200mb/s you would top out at 1000mb/s.
I live in 1920s decent sized semi dethatched house with pretty old wiring so the real world results I saw were considerably less than the quoted speeds. I did not test in a particularly scientific manor but here are the results I received:
WiFi sat next to the access point
Speed test on phone (actual broadband speed 60mb/s) – 50mbs
File transfer of 1.2GB 720p video file – 10MB/s or 80mb/s
File transfer – 24mb/s or 192mb/s
So as you can see this is around 1/6th of the claimed speed, which does look bad, but in all honesty I was pretty damn happy with it, my home wiring is pretty shoddy. It provided more than enough throughput to cope with any streaming I would like, though if you live in a large family or want to use it in a office there maybe some issues. It is also worth noting that my devices were placed quite far apart, one was downstairs at one end of the house, and the other upstairs at the other end of the house.
During regular use I mainly used the WiFi built into the device, giving my upstairs a decent signal. I found the overall performance to be flawless. In the past I have messed around with WiFi extenders to try and improve things but in general they are temperamental at best and I end up giving up on them. So having a WiFi access point that is reliable is a godsend to me.
In terms of pricing you can buy the Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi starter kit for £160 which is admittedly quite expensive, but at the current time there is not actually any other product that offers this speed of powerline plus WiFi. So unless you want the added mess of a powerline + separate router this is your best bet.
Overall, even though it is a little pricey, I think this is a superb product. With the growth of streaming the extra speed of a 1200mb/s device vs 500mb/s device is well worth the investment, and having a powerline device with built in WiFi is considerably more convenient than setting up multiple devices.
You can buy the dLan 1200+ WiFi starter kit from Amazon for £160.
Or if you already have some dLAN 1200 kit and want to add a WiFi adapter, this is available for £99.