Devolo dLAN 500 WiFi Network Kit full review
Powerline technology is a brilliantly simple thing but it looks daunting to the majority of non-tech-savvy homeowners.
Just look at the product names: Devolo’s dLAN 500 WiFi Network Kit is going to scare away most of the people it is perfect for. dLAN? Aargh!
So the marketing people at Devolo have hit on a clever plan: pointing out the benefits of Powerline and hiding the technical stuff. So the dLAN 500 WiFi Network Kit is branded on the box as “Wi-Fi Anywhere” with the promise “Devolo cures weak Wi-Fi”.
This ‘Does What It Says On The Tin’ approach is what Powerline needs to get across its easy-to-install benefits for owners of smart TVs, Sky+, Tivo, Apple TV and other set-top boxes, as well as smartphone, tablet and laptop users who need faster Wi-Fi away from the internet router.
Keeping to the simple theme, Powerline uses your home’s power lines to transmit data around the house far faster than Wi-Fi. You plug one adapter into a power socket within reach of your Internet router, and connect it to the router with an Ethernet cable. You then simply plug another adapter into a power socket in another room, and you can either connect other devices to this via another Ethernet cable or (if the unit has Wi-Fi function) use it as a second, almost full-strength Wi-Fi hotspot.
Basically all you have to do is plug a couple of adapters into power sockets and you’re all set up.
As the name suggests the Devolo dLAN 500 WiFi Network Kit does have Wi-Fi functionality, so you can get close-to-full Wi-Fi strength in rooms far away from your wireless router.
The adapter creates a new Wi-Fi hotspot that uses the main house Wi-Fi but doesn’t lose most of the signal strength travelling through walls and across distance. In our tests this more than doubled Wi-Fi strength across the house.
The 500 in the name stands for 500Mbps, which is the theoretical maximum speed this kit should supply. Theoretical. 500Mbps is fast, but you will never reach that speed for multiple reasons. There are lots of environmental limits to the speeds that Powerline can reach: the age and layout of your home’s power lines, other electronic devices creating electronic noise that slows signals down (phone chargers are a real menace), microwaves, and halogen lights…
Most Powerline products struggle to reach 100Mbps, let alone 500Mbps – but even that is easily fast enough for most purposes, and is miles better than a distant W-Fi signal. The use of the 10/100 ethernet port on the adapter limits the maximum speed to 100Mbps.
Powerline testing procedure
We tested the Devolo dLAN 500 WiFi in a Victorian house with fairly old wiring and the usual array of electronic devices (TV, Sky+, Hi-Fi, lamps, microwave, computers, etc) plugged into the power lines. The Internet router was situated in the office on the second floor, and we used Powerline to test data speed on the ground floor.
If your house was built more recently you may well achieve faster speeds than we did, but we use this house to get consistent speeds for a proper Powerline comparison.
Powerline speed tests
In our tests the Devolo dLAN 500 WiFi Network Kit fared pretty well. Forget the 500Mbps claims – every Powerline manufacturer makes the same boast but it’s nonsense, and it doesn’t matter if what you get is fast enough.
We got this Powerline system up to 71Mbps but it averaged just 46Mbps across the house, when used to connect a laptop via Ethernet. You can, of course, connect many of today’s devices by Ethernet: smart TVs, Sky+, Tivo, and other set top boxes.
The speeds we achieved with the Devolo dLAN 500 WiFi Network Kit – while not as fast as other Powerline kits we tested – should be fast enough for most casual catch-up TV services.
While the Wi-Fi speed was a little disappointing (34Mbps) it was still twice as fast as what we could get from the house’s main Wi-Fi signal. You can turn off the new Wi-Fi hotspot with the simple push if a button. If you add more adapters around the house you can set security at the touch of a button.
The Devolo dLAN 500 WiFi Network Kit consists of one base unit that you hook up to your router plus an adaptor. If you want to create Wi-Fi hotspots or connect devices via Ethernet in two other rooms of your house there’s a £124.99 kit (we've seen it online for £99) that has the base unit and two adaptors. You also get one Ethernet cable included in the box. For best prices see below.
The white cuboid adaptors are quite small for Powerline and so don’t look out of place in the home.
Set up was simplicity itself, and you can move the adapter around the house as you want.
There’s even an app – dLAN Cockpit – to help you manage the Powerline network from your smartphone or tablet.
One great function is the ability to set parental controls. For example parents can limit their children’s Internet access to certain times of the day if they set up one of the adaptors in a child’s bedroom or study.
Check out all our Powerline adapter reviews and also our group test of the best Powerline adapters we've tested. You can get more information on Powerline including explanations of Powerline speed myths and lots of tips and trick in our feature What Is Powerline.
Devolo dLAN 500 WiFi Network Kit: Specs
- 500Mbps, Wi-Fi, Powerline. Includes two adaptors in entry-level kit, and three in top-of-the-range pack. The adapter port uses the 10/100 ethernet standard, which limits the maximum possible speed to 100Mbps.