The Netgear Powerline 1200 is at the most basic a device that turns your existing power lines into gigabit network cable. This review is about using the product to bridge a very long network gap in an office building, and as such your eyes may cross and you pass out from boredom. You can use it to play games too, so you might want to read on.
I’d written a bit about the Trendnet adapter with a really similar name before, I think they all call the technology “Powerline” now as, well, it’s a network run over a power line.
With the other adapter, one of the failings I had was it didn’t play nice in my office building, rendering it kind of useless for the purposes I wanted it for. Luckily it worked fine at the plantation house project and to this day has worked with no intervention, survived a lightning strike that destroyed a Mac, two phones, a cable box, TV, and chimney. So it worked fine, not dissing on the other one. It just didn’t work in the office. I’ve been told they found a firmware issue and were working on it. Dunno.
The Netgear Powerline 1200 + Extra Outlet allows you to transmit data at over gigabit speeds across your existing electrical wiring. The base unit comes with two units, each with gigabit ethernet ports, but you can add more units to the network and achieve a throughput of about 1200 megabits, although each port can only deal with 1000.
Data is encrypted between the units, so listening in on the network traffic should be pretty hard to do. Like anything else, you can expect someone’s probably going to figure out a way in the future, but eh.
The Powerline 1200 includes a pass-through outlet so you can plug in a device on the other side, which is an absolute must unless you just have tons of outlets to spare.
Ping times seem significantly lower than WiFi, so if you’re into gaming you can no longer claim a faulty WiFi connection for why you got pwned so badly.
My use scenario
Recently I was tasked with implementing a monitoring system for the office building I work in that would allow us to record video, pop in remotely and verify whether a door was locked or unlocked. I purchased some Foscam Fl9821P WiFi cameras, a 16GB SD card for recording purposes, and went to town.
On one door we caught multiple tenants leaving the doors unlocked and alarm system unarmed over the weekend, which meant anyone could just waltz in and steal my daughter’s artwork, my prize slinky, and a couple of thousand dollars worth of computer equipment from tenants who didn’t lock their offices.
The inexpensive security option was just to catch our tenants as a note, the expensive security systems we have in place don’t look in the right locations.
Door one was set, door two was never a problem, but door three became my pet project.
Door three is located in a garage on the other side of a wood shop and directly 84 feet from the nearest network jack, which is on another floor that WiFi can’t punch through. Basically the area was a WiFi dead zone, and to run a network cable over involved being able to get up about 28 feet to where the firewall sleeve was, pulling it out on a different floor, and then running it to yet another floor in order to get a network connection.
This would negate the under $200 per camera requirement I was given, although I’m guessing they would have approved and the project would be on once the wiring techs go there (I don’t do wiring above 10 feet. I consider myself extra susceptible to gravity.)
So we ordered a Netgear Powerline 1200 in the hopes that it wouldn’t have the same issues the other one had. Since I’d been informed it was a firmware issue that was seriously compromising the other product in our environment, I decided to get it a shot.
I placed one Netgear Powerline 1200 adapter in my office on the third floor where the network switches are, and ran one of the included ethernet cables to them. I then hooked a laptop up to the other Powerline adapter and started my slow descent. It worked fine on the same floor, connecting in about two seconds after boot up, same on the second floor.
I got down to the first floor and huzzah… it worked… unfortunately by the time I wended my way back to the dead zone, there was no outlet it would work on in that configuration anymore. You’d see it connect and after a few seconds disconnect.
While not ideal, I brought the other unit down to the first floor, plugged it into an outlet and a jack on my network, they connected like a charm at 230 feet apart (maybe 250 feet of electrical wiring).
I could now put a camera on the back door for use in telling Tenant X that it’s their employees wandering out with a bottle of Jack that aren’t locking the doors, and show them video that was recorded of them not arming the system.
While I don’t have any issue with how the device functioned, you should be aware that it effectively takes both power outlet spaces to operate in. You might be able to fit a non-grounded plug in the remaining socket, but it’s going to probably prevent you from using it.
Incredibly useful device, rids you of most wiring headaches, does what it advertises, worth it.
The Netgear Powerline 1200 + Extra Outlet is available from Amazon for $89.99 (or used from $63).