With its ability to deliver throughput that’s not only faster than most wireless connections but also more reliable, the appeal of powerline networking is obvious. And being ridiculously easy to setup and use, it’s also suited to those who are less technically-minded.
Aside from a new look, the big difference with D-Link’s new DHP-307AV is that the adapters conform to the HomePlug AV specification; previously, all D-Link powerline kit (including the DHP-303 kit we reviewed last year) used rival UPA technology.
Although there’s nothing wrong with UPA powerline devices in terms of throughput, they’re not compatible with the wealth of HomePlug adapters already on the market, and vice-versa. D-Link also told us that its older UPA-based devices will be discontinued.
Thanks to a rather confusing naming convention, the DHP-307AV is actually a kit containing two DHP-306AV powerline adapters. For the sake of clarity, we’ll stick with calling them DHP-307AV adapters throughout this review.
Smaller, sleeker and just a little bit sexier than its predecessor, the DHP-307AV is one of the better looking powerline adapters out there. The glossy white adapter has smooth, curved edges and features three small LED indicators on the front; one signifies power, another shows whether a device is attached, while the third lights up when a powerline network has been created.
One feature that’s noticeable by its absence is a pass-through power socket. Although this allows the adapter to remain compact, it also means you effectively lose a power socket whenever you plug one in. And if you’re short on power sockets, this could be a major issue.
The right side of the adapter is home to a 10/100Mbps LAN port as well as a small button that lets you quickly encrypt the powerline network. To switch from the default password to a randomly-generated one, simply press the encryption button on one adapter and then press the same button on all other adapters within two minutes. If you’re not a fan of tearing round your house against the clock, encryption can also be performed using the included software, which we’ll talk about in a moment.
To test the DHP-307AV we connected one adapter to a laptop and the other to a router. To complete the powerline network, we then plugged a laptop direct into a spare LAN port on the router.
In the first test, which involved copying a large file from the laptop to the desktop, we recorded a throughput of 64Mbps. Bear in mind that file transfers such as this use TCP/IP, which slows everything down due to its error checking routines. When streaming video via UDP (which basically hurls data across the network and doesn’t bother with error checking) you can expect faster speeds.
Anyone who’s used powerline kit before will know that one performance-killer in particular is the dreaded power strip. Plug a powerline adapter into one of these and performance immediately plummets. Intrigued as to whether the DHP-307AV would suffer a similar fate, we plugged one of the adapters into a four-plug power strip and repeated the file-copying test. Although throughput dropped to around 35Mbps, it was still faster than we were expecting and indicates these adapters are pretty good at dodging interference.
D-Link includes a utility that allows you to setup encryption without using the buttons on the devices themselves. This utility also gives an indication as to the strength of the powerline network; in our tests, we achieved the maximum strength of three bars. Unfortunately, what you can’t do is change the quality of service (QoS) settings. Instead, all QoS traffic management is performed automatically by the adapters.
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