Devolo dLAN 200 AVpass kit review

Devolo’s dLAN 200 AVpass broadband adapter kit can connect your Freesat box to your broadband router via the mains electricity sockets in your home. But does it work?

For those unfamiliar with Powerline networking (for that’s what running the internet through your home’s power supply is called) the idea is that you can connect devices to the Internet via your home’s mains power sockets seems at best odd and at worst fatal for electrical appliances.

Well it's not as daft as it first seems and Devolo, specialists in Powerline networking, have created a way to connect your Freesat-enabled TV or set-top box to the Internet in order to get access to the new generation of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) features coming on stream.

The AVpass broadband adapter kit provides a connection to a free router Ethernet port and another adapter connected to your Internet-enabled TV via another supplied Ethernet cable. And this means you can receive internet TV services such as BBC’s iPlayer and online radio stations via the mains supply sockets into which adapters are plugged.

Setting up entails removing the two adapters from the box along with the two supplied Ethernet cables. Each adapter has its own three-pin mains socket so you don’t loose a mains socket when using the adapters and the adapter must be plugged in and the Ethernet cable connected to your router.

Then plug in the other adapter at the location of your Freesat TV or set-top box and connect that to the adapter with the other Ethernet cable. A small button on the base each adapter, adjacent to the Ethernet port, must be pressed to secure the network. Press the button on the router-connected adapter first, for 1 second, then the other button on the Freesat device connected adapter within 2 minutes and they’re securely connected at speeds of up to 200Mbps, although speeds will depend on your broadband service for online access. 

Fire up your Freesat TV or set-top box and tune into a channel with internet broadcast services, press the red button on your remote and bingo! On BBC channels, for example, BBC’s iPlayer is yours to view and any Internet based radio stations or any other IPTV services provided by the maker of your set-top box or TV manufacturer.

This means the services on offer will depend to a greater or lesser degree on the services provided by the manufacturer and probably more pertinently, the age of your kit. For example, some TV’s have Ethernet ports for “future features” but the TV’s manufacturer may not yet be broadcasting those IPTV services.

The network the adapters creates depends on how far apart the adapters are and that can be up to 200m of wiring distance so impressive stuff and enough for most "normal" homes. It took us about 10 minutes to get the test 200 AVpass kit plugged in and running through a Panasonic Viera Freesat TV. To expand the system, you’ll need to buy another adapter, press the small button adjacent to the Ethernet cable on the first adapter for 1 second, then the same button on the new adapter, also for 1 second. This will expand the secure network to the three adapters (in this example) with any new devices connected to the new adapter by its Ethernet cable.

Plugged into a Sony PS3 via the Ethernet connection (rather than wirelessly) worked and it’s worth noting there are integrated network filters to minimise interference from any other connected devices and to help ensure optimal connection speeds.

The dual adapter starter kit retails for a penny shy of £120, which seems a little expensive, but it's so easy to use and set-up, you’re paying for that simplicity, the adapter’s sophistication is on the inside and that’s what you’re really playing for.

Another slight gripe is one more applicable to older houses, where the mains sockets tend to be placed low on the wall, near the skirting board. This means the size of the adapters, with the Ethernet cables attached, can make plugging them into the wall socket almost impossible particularly on very low sockets. Modern houses, with their higher placed sockets, will not have this issue.

Verdict

Simple to use and set-up, the Devolo dLAN 200 AVpass kit may seem a tad expensive to some, but the added flexibility, integrated mains socket and internet security; increased network connection speeds, easy expandability and increased viewing and listening choices makes them well worth having.