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Quick look – WD Livewire Powerline AV Network Kit

Powerline networking lets you set up a network at home without laying down cables. Does it work here? Well, yes!

When Howard first asked the TN crew if anyone wanted to try the WD Livewire Powerline AV Network Kit that he just got, he was met with silence as people quickly checked the status of their home insurance policies. Two of us eventually took him up on his offer.

Pros and Cons

On the pro side, powerline networking gear is probably the easiest way to set up a home network. No need to lay down cables, no need to install repeater WiFi stations to extend the wireless signal to the more remote parts of the house. Just plug one box into your router and into an AC outlet, and the other into another AC outlet somewhere else in your house. You now have four network ports available for your different gadgets.

On the con side, powerline networking is relatively unknown, and untested in the Philippines. And given the poor quality electrical wiring work in some older homes, it may not work as well as expected in some houses. You also have to be tethered to the box via an Ethernet cable, so no moving your laptop around and no internet access for your portable gadgets (iPad, iPhone).

Each box has four Ethernet ports, a port fo the AC power cable, an On-Off switch, a reset button, and indicator lights.

Does it really work?

Yes. I set the WD Livewire Powerline AV Network Kit up at home, and attached one box to the DSL modem/router, and then went two rooms away and plugged in the other box (you’ll need to plug the boxes directly into a wall outlet; no extension cords allowed). After turning off WiFi on my laptop, I plugged it into the box using an Ethernet cable.

It took about a minute for the laptop to acquire an IP address and connect to the network, but connect it did. I was actually surprised that it would work, given that the house I tested it in was built in the 1950s (or maybe even the late 40s), and I’m sure the electrical guts have bee ripped out and reconfigured at least a few times since then.

I tested the limits of the powerline network by setting up the second box in the farthest room, and it didn’t work. I chalked it down to the wiring configuration of the house.

Network connection speed was decent, and web browsing and downloading email didn’t feel any slower, which is what I had feared. Under ideal conditions, it should be able to transfer HD video from a drive on one end of the network to an HD TV on the other end.

I did a Speedtest check, though, to be able to at least see some numbers, and this is what I got.

Speedtest numbers for the poweline connection (top) and a regular WiFi connection (below)

So, it’s slower, but I guess that’s partly due to the poor condition of the house’s wiring. Vic will be testing out the WD Livewire Powerline AV Network Kit in a much newer house next week, and should be able to report more details, especially the AV transfer speeds.

For the moment, all I can say is that it really works, and can be a way to extend your network to another part of the house that isn’t reached by your wireless router.



Jason de Villa is teacher by day and a geek at all other times of the day. When he’s not teaching, he’s reading and writing about technology, looking for ways technology can help in education. His favorite noodles: Pancit Malabon Express.

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