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The January 21, 2003 Issue Provided by System Dynamics Inc.
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HomePlug - Problem Solving and More Test Results

Problem Solving: Audio Networking

In earlier issues, we've reported on the AudioTron Digital Music Player ( see and HomePlug powerline networking ( Now we've combined them to solve a problem in our home.

We had been using the AudioTron in our bedroom, but that limited the places we could listen to our CD tracks. We wanted to move the AudioTron to the audio cabinet in our dining room - it's connected with speaker wiring to all the loudspeakers in the house. But we couldn't connect the AudioTron to our network from the dining room - we don't have a CAT5 outlet there.

AudioTron with ST&T M51 in our audio cabinet --> Click for larger picturePhonex NeverWire 14 Ethernet bridge connected to our Ethernet switch --> Click for larger pictureIt hit us that this was a great use for HomePlug, and we still had a few Ethernet bridge adapters from our earlier tests. So we connected a Phonex NeverWire 14 to an electrical outlet near our main Ethernet switch, and hooked up an ST&T M51 to the AudioTron in the audio cabinet.

We now have more than 1700 audio tracks saved on our PC hard drives. We are streaming music from our PCs over Ethernet and HomePlug to the AudioTron and playing them on all the speakers in the house. It works flawlessly - this is what home networking is for!

This approach would also work for any device that wants to share the network - such as connecting an Xbox to Microsoft's Xbox Live service.

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HomePlug Testing: New ST&T Adapters

ST&T M53 Ethernet bridge --> Click for larger pictureTwo "PlugIns" for the home - ST&T U23 (below) and Glade room freshener (above) --> Click for larger pictureST&T xNetworks sent us their latest iPower Point HomePlug adapters - an M53 Ethernet adapter and a U23 USB adapter. Since the earlier ST&T equipment had outperformed other adapters, we were not surprised that the ST&T units continued to perform well. They're also the nicest looking HomePlug units we've seen.

In our tests, the combination of two ST&T Ethernet adapters - the new M53 and an older M51 - got the highest scores in our tests, with a average of 4.33 Mbps across the 14 outlets we tested. The U23 averaged 3.83 Mbps - quite good, but the earlier ST&T USB adapters did better.

A nice feature of the M53 is that it needs no configuration - it has no buttons or setup procedure. Unlike other Ethernet adapters we've tested, it doesn't require a switch to select whether it's connected to a PC or a switch/hub -- it autoconfigures either way. We found it truly "plug and play"!

We've updated our web site with these latest tests. Please see the details of our test procedures and results at .

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