At a street price of around $130, the D-Link PowerLine AV 500 Adapter Starter Kit model DHP-501AV, which includes two adapters, is a great deal. Not only is the kit a nice-looking piece of hardware, it's also easy to use. Most importantly, it's superfast, beating regular 10/100 Ethernet connections by about 50 percent.
For those who are looking for a first power-line adapter kit to add to their home network, the DHP-501AV kit makes an excellent choice. However, if you want adapters that have a pass-through power socket for far corners that have only a single power outlet, the $80 apiece Netgear XAV5501 will better fit the bill. You can also opt for both, as they work with each other.
Design, setup, and features
The D-Link DHP-501AV kit contains two identical adapters, model DHP-500AV. These are based on HomePlug Powerline Alliance's new Powerline AV 500 standard, which offers a ceiling speed of 500Mbps. The HDP-500AV adapter itself is a stylish, completely white object, resembling a product made by Apple. On the front, it has three status lights for power, the power-line connection, and the connection to the client. On the side, it has one Gigabit Ethernet port and a quick-security button. Pressing this button on both adapters within 2 minutes when they are plugged into their wall sockets will create a secure connection between the two. This is to prevent others from connecting to your network by using another compatible power-line adapter in the same building.
On the bottom, the DHP-500AV has a two-prong power connector, so it fits more sockets than the Netgear XAV5501, which comes with a three-prong connector. The two-prong design does mean the adapter stays less firmly in the socket. It'd also be better if the adapter used a power cord, as the WD Livewire adapter does, so that it wouldn't obstruct the adjacent power outlets the way it does now. Unlike the XAV5501, the DHP-500AV doesn't have a pass-through power socket on top, meaning you most likely can't use it in a corner that has only one power outlet. This is because generally power-line adapters need to be plugged directly into a wall socket and won't work with surge protectors or power strips. To make up for the lack of a pass-through socket, the DHP-500AV adapter is just about 40 percent the size of the XAV5501.
As with most power-line adapters, it's a no-brainer to create a power-line connection with the DHP-501AV kit. First you hook up one of the adapters to the network via the router (or the hub), using a network cable. Then connect the second adapter to an Ethernet-ready device, say at the far corner of the house. After that, you just plug both adapters into the power sockets. If the two locations share electrical wiring, which is the case in homes or apartment buildings, a power-line network connection is now established. This whole process takes just a minute and you can't make a mistake. After that you can add more devices to the power-line network by adding more adapters.
In our trials the DHP-501AV kit worked with other Powerline AV 500 adapters, such as the Netgear XAV5501AV. Note, however, that when adapters from multiple vendors are used, the security button might not work unless they support the same security standard. This means you might not be able to create a secure power-line network, and it's a good idea to have one if you live in an apartment building. Most adapters come with software so you can change the security settings manually, however. The DHP-501AV comes with a Windows-based desktop configuration application called D-Link Powerline AV Utility that can be used to manage the secure connections and to view the connection and perform other tasks such as naming the adapter, changing its password, and updating firmware.