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IOGEAR Homeplug Networking Reviewed 99

Chris Allen writes "Wired or wireless? This is always just about the first thing anyone thinks of when planning their new home/soho office. It always comes down to price/performance/practicality, in whichever order you feel is more important. Sometimes it just isn't possible to run CAT5, for a variety of reasons. The only options available for the average consumer is wireless, HomePNA, which uses your existing telephone network in your house, and HomePlug, using your existing power grid. HomePNA has been around for around 3 years or so, and has matured some, starting out transmitting at dismal speeds and lackluster reliability in regards to interference. HomePlug is short for HomePlug® Powerline Alliance."
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IOGEAR Homeplug Networking Reviewed

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  • First Plug! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Monday January 06, 2003 @08:05AM (#5024391) Homepage Journal
    Gee first comment, and it wont be off or on topic, just an interesting side note...

    Anyways there's an interesting side note to the history of the ricochet modem. It's parent company developed and deployed a network over powerline technology for some LA based power company years ago. Too bad they went bankrupt otherwise i'd have a link.
  • by lseltzer ( 311306 ) on Monday January 06, 2003 @08:08AM (#5024398)
    On an ongoing basis you can expect maybe 5-8Mbps from HomePlug. The newer HomePNA hardware is faster (steady 10Mbps) and works well. If you're basically using it to share an Internet connection, both are fine of course.

    Also, make sure to set the password on your HomePlug hardware or everone on your street up to the transformer is on your LAN.
  • by Drakonite ( 523948 ) on Monday January 06, 2003 @08:14AM (#5024414) Homepage
    I used to have one of those home intecom sets that works by transferring over the electrical wires... It sounded terrible and barely worked.

    Will this work as good? ;)

    How about power spikes? I live in a neighborhood that is on the top end of what voltages are tolerable, so the quick, small, and frequent power spikes are more noticable and damaging and burn up lightbulbs frequently. If I were using this wouldn't I have to worry about it burning up the modem every couple of months?

    I assume putting it behind some sort of surge supressor to protect it from the spikes would ruin it's ability to communite on the power lines.

  • Wired... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Monday January 06, 2003 @08:20AM (#5024423) Homepage

    Most people are going to go for Wireless, its simpler to install, you can move around, don't need new sockets for new devices, and every network should have a wireless element in it.

    BUT if you are connecting key elements together, like a primary desktop, a server or even just the major working at home point (in front of the TV with the laptop on my lap) then wired rules the world. Why ? Well apart from being able to transfer things around the network quicker, no drop in quality if the next door neighbour sets up their own wireless LAN with the packet clash party that can grow into. There is one bigger advantage to wires (no not security as you do need wireless to work in the garden).

    Wires are maintainance free, they won't require upgrading as broadband gets broader. Legacy kit comes with the connections built in.

    Wires for infrastructure and key sections. Wireless for roaming.
  • Which the two "home" brand solutions do stop you needing wires all through the building, it's worth noting that you do have to have another wire going to a power socket or a local phone socket.

    There's only phone sockets downstairs at my place, so HomePNA might as well be a slow CAT5. HomePlug would be more useful but how well does that work when plugged into a couple of extension cables and a 10-way multiplug? Would this affect speed or stop it entirely?

    Incidentally in my case it is just for internet connection sharing so I use as cheap an 802.11 as worked.
  • by altgrr ( 593057 ) on Monday January 06, 2003 @08:51AM (#5024499)
    ...just use the old TV aerial wiring.

    We got cable a couple of years ago, which left all our old TV aerial wiring totally unused. This was great, because we needed a network cable running from a room downstairs with a TV aerial socket to a room upstairs. I found the other end of the aerial cable, poked a hole through the loft, and brought the cable down. Then it was just a matter of putting a BNC end on that cable, and changing the wall socket downstairs to a BNC socket. Hey presto - a nice, simple solution using existing wiring and technology! Who'd have thought it?
  • "not possible" (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 06, 2003 @09:01AM (#5024546)
    to run cable? I would think that in most cases if it is "not possible to run cable" then that is either A) due to a lazy person who doesn't want to pull cable or have it running in the ceilings or B) the house and thus wiring is old and has many physical stopgaps to overcome. If the latter, then that probably means old, dirty electrical lines and if the former then we are just talking about someone willing to pay more for less. Run the damn CAT-5 along your ceiling and be done with it!
  • Phase current (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 06, 2003 @09:13AM (#5024599)
    I've looked at the website but cannot find anything about the following:

    Here in the Netherlands we have two kinds of power you can have where the cable comes into your house: 220V or 220V times three (380V or 'power' current which is three times 220V but slightly phase shifted). Then these different phases are used for different groups in the house.

    When I connect two of these HomePlug devices to two different phases, I guess it will not work will it?

    The only thing the HomePlug website mentions is that "... it should support multiple logical networks on a single physical medium and be applicable to markets in North America, Europe and Asia."

    Any comments?

  • by Dark Lord Seth ( 584963 ) on Monday January 06, 2003 @09:54AM (#5024796) Journal

    Interesting suggestion though, add a couple of file and game servers on it, get some decent neighbohrs and you can have your own cheap and bloody fast LAN for some heavy duty trading and file swapping. Every puts down 100 bucks for equipment and a bunch of computers to act as servers... Sounds nice and definetely cheaper and more reliable then wireless, because radio transmissions are always susceptable to atmospheric distortions and shitty security. I don't think anyone is stupid enough to tap into my power mains just to sniff my packets.

  • by hussar ( 87373 ) on Monday January 06, 2003 @10:00AM (#5024830) Homepage
    Last year I talked to a couple of powerline networking and bluetooth manufacturing firms at CeBIT 2002 in Hannover, Germany. I was trying to get an idea of what future products they were working on, because I think both technologies would work well with each other.

    What I would like to see is a bluetooth adapter that plugs into the wall socket to provide powerline network access to my home server to any bluetooth enabled device in the room. I should provide a straight through plug so I could still plug, say, a lamp into the socket. PDAs and TabletPCs could access the server through this bluetooth/powerline network, so for example, my PDA could automatically sync with my server when I walked into the house or into my home office. This set up might even be more secure due to the shorter range of bluetooth devices as compared to 802.11 wireless.

    The powerline network would also help other technologies get a foothold. For example, I can see synergies in my refrigerator and pantry being intelligent enough to sense intelligent packaging and to be able tell how well stocked they were. (I don't want an Internet-enabled refrigerator though. That is like begging for trouble.) Using powerline networking, I could connect the 'frig to my server (hey, it has to be plugged in anyway!) and software on my server could combine the data from both refrigerator and pantry inventories to develop a shopping list transmitted/updated to my PDA automatically.

    Personally, I think the Open Source community should jump on the home server bandwagon soon, and start providing a client/server API and applications that can be used by smart devices to connect via wireless/bluetooth/pwoerline networking to home servers. That is the future. Fighting the battle of the desktop is only of limited future use. The real battle, and the one that Linux and open source can win, is home servers that provide stable support to the intelligent devices finding their way into our homes and offices.
  • Linux drivers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PoochieReds ( 4973 ) <> on Monday January 06, 2003 @11:00AM (#5025198) Homepage
    Anyone know if Linux supports these devices? Does the USB variety just look like a regular old Communications Class USB device?

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