Since powerline kits have been about, avid readers will know that I have grown upon the technology and now use it myself as a means of extending my network to a far point with ease. There has been one slight downside though that I have seen with many of these kits and this simply comes down to the Ethernet ports that have been installed into the plugs versus the speed that the powerline link runs at. When you think about it, it does make one wonder what the point is in having a 200Mbps or even a 500Mbps link speed between the plugs when the connected devices can only run at 10/100 Ethernet speeds, after all the network will only be as fast as the slowest link component.
This imbalance between the Ethernet and link speed is where the TL-PA551 comes into an immediate advantage. The inclusion of a Gigabit Ethernet port on each PA551 plug allows each connected device to take the full advantage of the 500Mbps link speed that runs through the power system of the house. I’m not going to write off the fact the having a higher link speed is pointless however. It all comes down to the way the plugs are used; if a single pair of plugs are being used, in the same way that I test them, then there is going to be an advantage to having a faster Ethernet speed over link speed, allowing the user to make the most of what’s available. On the flip side however for situations where there is multiple plugs connected into a powerline group, then the faster link speed will allow for more fluid backbone connections.
The PA551 in a co-located set-up, as mentioned on the previous page, gives a good level of performance and whilst there is a notable drop in performance in our testing when the distance is greatly increased, I will have to point out that this is not necessarily going to be the case for all installations as the quality of wiring and distance of the cable runs in walls does vary greatly, thus being the major factor with the quality of connection and speed. Over the PA511, the PA551 does also offer an AC pass through, which is a feature that many will overlook. Being able to plug another electrical device into the powerline adaptor is an easy way to save on buying extension leads and multi-sockets to give extra power behind a TV or computer for example, just for the sake of giving that location LAN connectivity as well.
Overall I’m impressed with the PA-551 powerline adaptor and to add to the features available, this kit is fully backwards compatible with the other powerline products that TP-Link feature in their line-up. The AC pass through is not a first in this product class so I can give the kit our Innovation award, but when we look at the price point of a shade under £80 (~€93 EUR / $124 USD) they’re a damn good bargain, working out at half that price each in this instance – that’s surely worth our band for buck award.
- Gigabit Ethernet ports
- High speed 500Mbps link speed
- High affordability
- AC pass through
- Simple to use
- Bulky design
- Possibility of notable drop in performance due to older electrical wiring
eTeknix says: “Powerline technology is getting stronger and stronger and consequently the speeds that we are no seeing possible is becoming ever more close to a pure Ethernet network – the PA551KIT is a great example of this and the AC pass through feature on top of this gives this kit a huge list of selling buzz words. Certainly one of the top kits that I’ve seen so far.”