Saturday, March 3, 2012

Devolo dLAN 200 AVmini Starter Kit

Reading about power line communication technology a few years back when it was just a concept, I can see it came a long way and it seems quite mature now. Just bough this Devolo dLAN 200 AVmini Starter kit (2 adapters) to replace my wireless WDS setup (wireless router upstairs going through a wall and the floor to another router downstairs in the living room) - not necessarily to get higher transfer speeds, but to improve latency. I was annoyed at times when playing on Xbox Live and getting killed when I thought I got a swipe at the other guy to watch the replay later to find out that it wasn’t like that at all. I can see now a good improvement with the Devolo dLAN 200, although I guess the rest is up to me :-)

I had the kit installed for a couple of weeks now and fairly happy with it – very easy to connect, just plug in and devices will find each other quickly and you have a network in only a few seconds. The units seem to consume little power (~4 Wh), and they are smart enough to sense when the device connected to them is power off and will switch to power saving mode, pinging for activity every couple of seconds.

One device is plugged upstairs into my Linksys WRT54GL wireless router, and the second one downstairs plugged into a mini-switch, servicing both the Xbox 1 and Xbox 360. Both units are powered through extension leads, cause I don’t have enough power sockets on the wall, although Devolo recommends not do that, and for good reason as you will see, the performance is poorer that way. You can find units with pass through power socket to solve that issue, but didn’t want to pay extra really cause I thought I won’t really need it.

Here is the performance test with both units in extension leads – transfer speeds at around 4.5 MB/sec.

Copy transfer - extensions

Devolo Cockpit - extension

Running the test again with both units connected directly to wall sockets almost doubles the transfer speed at around 7.7 MB/sec.

Copy transfer - wall

Devolo Cockpit - wall

Personally, I don’t mind the transfer speeds so much, I don’t transfer a lot of files around to my Xboxes, and Xbox Live and Internet access seems to be faster than my old 802.11g WDS setup, so I’m reasonable happy with it, cause latency seems to have improved a lot. On the other hand, I guess if you are streaming HD content or wanting to transfer large files across the local network fast, you might not be too excited about it.

One other thing I found, and this is about the Devolo Cockpit application (screenshots), which you only need to review and configure the units, might consume a considerable amount of CPU (devolonetsvc.exe) – I did contact Devolo Support and they came back quickly enough, explaining what the service is used for and that it can be set to manual and stopped as it’s not required for the units to work.

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