Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac powerline review
Powerline adapters. I wasn’t convinced at first and would thread CAT 5e cable through each flat I rented. Then I ended up renting a house and had to rethink things. Renting a place means no drilling holes in floors and ceilings. For the last 8 months I’ve been relying on some of these adapters and recently I’ve been giving the Devolo dLAN 1200+ kit a test drive. Read on to see how it fares.
Powerline adapters do work and are great for getting the internet to places in your home that Wi-Fi just cannot reach. Plug one end in to your router and a plug socket and then plug the other in a power outlet in the room that your network forgot about and then, as if by magic, you can hook up your PC, or other networked devices, and enjoy the freedom of the interwebs.
The kit I am currently running is a pair of TP-LINK AV500 adapters and they squirt my home network through the mains from downstairs up to the spare room/office good enough to run a pair of PCs at the same time at speeds fast enough to game. The 500 in the name is because they can manage up to 500mps – the Devolo has 1200 in its name. Yup, 1200mps is the boast.
The Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac design
The Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi Starter Kit includes two Powerline adapters, a pictorial installation guide and two Ethernet cables.
The main adapter is pretty standard fare looking like a rather chunky plug with an ethernet port in the top.
The second half of this duo is much larger but it does offer two Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as Wi-Fi which means that your phones and tablets benefit from this network extension too.
The adapters are encased in a not unattractive hard white plastic shell with slightly rounded edges. This makes a nice change from some of the more boxy devices out there. The WiFi enabled adapter has vents all the way round as it does get fairly warm. The main adapter, however, remains ventless.
The Gigabit Ethernet ports are on the top of each adapter which means that they’re easily accessible and makes sense if you’re plugging them in under a desk or behind a cupboard. I have the second unit in plain sight so it does look kind of awkward with the cables sprouting from the top. Let’s face it, if they came out of the sides they’d obstruct the other plug if in a two-gang wall socket and if they came out of the bottom then there’d be much scrambling if you did have it behind furniture. Also if the ethernet ports were at the bottom there could be a floor-clearance issue too.
Both adapters have the very useful AC pass through feature which means you don’t have to sacrifice any power sockets when using the Devolo dLAN 1200+. Be careful when pulling whatever you’ve plugged in via the Devolo units though as you will more than likely pull the whole lot out of the socket and then down goes your internet. Safest to use a hand on the Devolo to keep it plugged in whilst unplugging the other thing from it – take this as words of experience 😉
The LED indicator lights are clear and can even be turned off if needs be if you have one in a spare bedroom as they are fairly bright when all the other lights are off. On the main adapter a steady white light indicates a connection, quick flash for pairing and irregular flash for power saving mode. It will also flash red if there is no dLAN connection and flash slightly slower in red if the dLAN connection is not optimal. The theme follows on the WiFi adapter with just one additional LED light which stays illuminated once the WiFi is setup and enabled.
Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac starter kit set up
The setting up of the dLAN 1200+ is an easy and simple process and it was all up and running within a few minutes.
All you need to do is plug both adapters in, press the encryption button and then, once the LED lights stop flashing, you just have to sort the WiFi setup out which is again really straight-forward.
It was a nice bonus to discover that the Devolo adapters are fully Homeplug compliant so adding additional adapters to the existing Powerline network won’t cause any issues. You can also mix and match different manufacturers. I’ve tested the Devolo system with my TP-LINK gear on the same network and they paired and connected without issue, which is handy to know.
Warning! The default WiFi password is printed on the back of the primary adaptor which cannot be seen when it’s plugged in. So, make a note of it before you hook everything up else there could be swearing!
Devolo have also added a useful bit of free software called dLAN Cockpit. I’ve not seen this kind of thing for Powerline adapters before so it might be a first – please feel free to let me know if I am wrong though.
The Cockpit gives a clear visual display of the Powerline network and the link rates that are currently being achieved.
Through Devolo’s Cockpit you can also change settings such as the security options, update the adapter’s firmware, clone your existing Wi-Fi settings, change the adapter name (as you can see I rather imaginatively called mine ‘upstairs’) and turn off the rather bright LED lights if you wish.
Moving onto the WiFi side of things the dLAN 1200+ squirts out 802.11 a,g,n WiFi with simultaneous 2.4 and 5Ghz bands which is nice.
Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac starter kit performance
WiFi speeds were a bit faster than my TP-LINK set-up and the addition of a 5Ghz is a sure bonus. I managed to get almost 90Mbps which is pretty good but not the blistering speeds I was expecting.
What I did find was that the 1200 Mbits figure is definitely a theoretical maximum expectation which can only be achieved under optimum conditions. My real world readings had lows of around 215 and highs of 639 Mbit/s but my TalkTalk connection has been fluctuating wildly for a couple of months now. Usually I would get a steady 400-475 according to the Cockpit but speeds measured during file transfers would clock in at a max of around 190mb/s. Not quite the claimed 1200 but still good for a connection through my home’s electrical wiring ring and is an improvement over the TP-LINK devices.
It is worth noting here that there will be differences to what I am getting to someone else. I am currently living in a small two-bedroom house built in the early 90s. So, as Powerline devices rely on your home’s wiring, then this will have an impact – also it will depend if the adapters are on the same ring too, I should imagine.
My set up is that I have the primary adapter (the one connected to the router at the back of the house in the living-room with the secondary adapter in the front spare bedroom which I use as my office. The latter has two PCs plugged in to it.
Sharing the network with the pair of PCs are my TV, TalkTalk YouView box, and disc player. Over WiFi there’s two tablets and a couple of mobile phones +/- 2 laptops.
Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac starter kit review conclusion
I am impressed by the well-made Devolo 1200+ WiFi ac Starter Kit. It has performed well and the dips in speed I am attributing to my up-and-down TalkTalk connection. The Devolo has increased my home network speeds noticeably.
The adapters might be larger than some of the other Powerline adapters out there but the benefits of the ac pass through and dual band WiFi being broadcast by the secondary unit has to be acknowledged.
The set-up is simple and the Cockpit software is a nice addition to the overall package.
The Devolo 1200+ WiFi ac Starter Kit is available for £160 on Amazon.co.uk, which isn’t cheap and certainly puts it up there as a premium product and it has proved a consistently solid performer.