USB is fine as far as it goes – but in terms of cable lengths the standard allows, that’s only about five metres before you need to add a powered hub. Devolo’s dLAN 200 AV USB Extender is a great idea, using the flexibility of powerline networking and a USB-over-IP driver to allow you to plug in and share USB devices wherever there’s a suitable power outlet.
What you get for the money
We tested the starter kit, comprising a dLAN AVmini adapter and the larger USB Extender. First, you need to install the Devolo Cockpit software and device driver on each PC that needs to use the USB device. Connect the AVmini to the router, plug the extender in at the remote location, and in a few seconds the USB-over-IP driver installs itself. USB devices then behave just like any normal USB device, requiring drivers on the client PC if applicable. We had no problems with an assortment of printers, scanners and storage devices, but do note that it’s designed to allow access to a single device at a time, so you can’t use hubs.
Although devices can be used by any PC with the Devolo software installed, each PC has exclusive control until disconnected via the Cockpit software. Other users can request control, which flashes a message in the Windows notification area.
How it performed
In terms of performance, the story isn’t quite as rosy. We measured device’s file transfer performance using Passmark’s disk tests. For a USB hard drive, the transfer speeds dropped to about 1MB/sec, compared to 20MB/sec for the same drive when connected directly to a PC. This was despite an indicated powerline connection speed in Cockpit of around 170Mbit/s. For peripherals like printers and scanners this is more than adequate, but not for playing HD movies from USB storage.
Contact: 01865 244141
- Can use any USB device, including multifunction printers.
- Poor file transfer performance; single device support.
If you've ever despaired of how to connect and share USB devices over long distances, this could be the answer to your prayers. But it's much more suitable for low-speed peripherals than storage devices.