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newRevised 1/26/03

HomePlug Products Tested

Ten of the Homeplug adapters we tested in our house We received twelve HomePlug adapters from four vendors (Asoka, Phonex, ST&T and Valence Semiconductor). These adapters come in three types:

  • An "Ethernet bridge adapter" provides a link between an Ethernet network and Homeplug. It uses an Ethernet (Category 5) cable to connect either to a PC or to an Ethernet hub or switch. It includes a short power cord, or plugs directly into a wall outlet. This electrical connection plays two roles: it provides power for the adapter, and provides the connection to other HomePlug devices in the home over the home electrical wiring.
  • A "USB adapter" connects a PC to HomePlug through the PC's USB port. It is also connected to the wall outlet directly or through a power cord.
  • A PCI card is designed to be installed in a desktop PC. It is connected to the powerline with an external power cord or internally through the PC's power wiring.

We evaluated eight different Ethernet bridge and USB adapters from Asoka, Phonex and ST&T based on three different chips:

  • Three Ethernet bridge adapters and two USB adapters based on the first-generation Intellon A1 chip;
  • An Ethernet bridge and a USB "wall adapter" from ST&T based on the second-generation Intellon X1 chip; and
  • A USB "wall adapter" based on a Cogency chip.

We also received but did not have time to test a PCI card adapter from Valence Semiconductor.

Asoka USA

Asoka Ethernet BridgeAsoka USA provided three adapters - two Ethernet bridges and one USB adapter. On the left is Asoka's PlugLink Ethernet Bridge PL9610-ETH, based on Intellon's A1 chip.

The distribution package includes an installation disk; it requires at least Windows 98SE (Second Edition) and does not support Macintosh at this time.

Asoka USB AdapterThis is Asoka's PlugLink USB Adapter PL9710-USB, also based on Intellon's A1 chip. It includes the same installation disk as the Ethernet bridge above.

See our article "Introduction to HomePlug" in BBHR July 29, 2002 for background on Asoka.

The Asoka adapters are currently available online from the Asoka website ( www.asokausa.com ) and several retailers in the Bay area.

Phonex Broadband

Phonex Ethernet BridgePhonex Broadband provided two of their QX-201 NeverWire 14 Ethernet Bridges, based on Intellon's A1 chip.

No installation disk is required or provided, since all configuration is done by pushing buttons on the adapters.

These units are currently available online from the Phonex website ( www.phonex.com ) and several other online retailers.

ST&T xNetworks

ST&T Powerline Ethernet BridgeST&T xNetworks provided five adapters, two Ethernet and three USB. This is their M51 iPower Point EtherFast 10/100 Bridge, based on Intellon's A1 chip.

The distribution package includes an installation disk; it requires at least Windows 98SE (Second Edition) and does not support Macintosh at this time.

ST&T U21 Powerline USB BridgeThis is ST&T's U21 iPower Point PLC USB Adaptor, also based on Intellon's A1 chip. It includes the same installation disk as the Ethernet bridge above.

ST&T U22 USB Wall AdaptorThis is ST&T's U22 USB Wall Adaptor. Unlike the previous units, it is designed to plug directly into the wall. It is the first production unit based on the Cogency chip.

These are ST&T's newest iPower Point Powerline Network adaptors, both designed to plug directly into the wall and both based on the new Intellon X1 chip. ST&T's M53 Ethernet Bridge is shown on the left, and the U23 USB Adaptor is shown on the right.ST&T M53 Ethernet bridgeST&T's U23 USB Adaptor plugs directly into the wall

Valence Semiconductor

Valence PCI Board and power cordWe received a PCI Evaluation Kit VK6001-EVB1 from Valence Semiconductor, but ran out of time before we were able to evaluate it. It is based on a Conexant HomePlug MAC/PHY chip and a Valence HomePlug Analog Front End chip.

Unlike the other units, this is configured as a PCI card to be installed in a desktop PC; a power cord connects it to an outlet.


We thank the HomePlug PowerLine Alliance for coordinating our contacts with vendors, the manufacturers for providing adapters and telephone support during our testing, and the chip vendors for their help in reviewing our test plan and explaining why some outlets worked better than others.

( www.homeplug.org ) ( www.intellon.com ) ( www.cogency.com ) ( www.asokausa.com ) ( www.phonex.com ) ( www.stt.com.tw ) ( www.valance.com )


Next: Homeplug Test Procedure