The 500Mbps Powerline kit tested here isn’t the fastest spec available nowadays, as you can buy adapters of 1,000Mbps and up, but for value we think the performance and price make for great value. A couple of years after our original 2015 review we still rate the TrendNet Powerline 500, especially the kit with the added wireless hotspot function. Keep reading for more on that.
Powerline adapters, such as the TrendNet Powerline AV2, use your standard power cables to create a home network that’s much faster than Wi-Fi, and so are perfect for streaming TV shows and movies from services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky OnDemand, Now TV and BBC iPlayer.
Powerline adapters are simple of set up – literally plug and play – and decent value. See Powerline explained.
You take one adapter and connect that to your broadband router, then plug it into a nearby power socket. In a second room you plug the other adapter into a power socket. You can then connect devices via Ethernet cable – just as you would from your router.
Some Powerline adapters include a Wi-Fi access point that creates a new Wi-Fi hotspot in the second room. This makes the new Wi-Fi signal much stronger than the one from your far-away wireless router.
A scenario might be where your modem/router and main PC live (say in the loft office) and you want to get as fast an Ethernet connection as you can in your living room for your smart TV or Sky/Tivo box. You’ll always get a faster connection using wired Ethernet than you will with Wi-Fi.
Powerline is available in a range of speeds, the slowest being a claimed 200Mbps and the fastest 1,200Mbps.
You can forget about these claimed speeds as they are theoretical only. There are many variables that slow down Powerline, but the performance is still much better than you’re likely to get with a normal house’s Wi-Fi.
A decent “500Mbps” set of Powerline adapters might reach nearly 100Mbps in a perfect setup but no more than 70Mbps across different rooms.
Here we test the TrendNet Powerline AV2 Adapter Kit (TPL-408E2K) and the optional TrendNet Powerline 500AV Wireless Access Point (TPL-410AP) that adds a new Wi-Fi hotspot to the second room.
We have tested a large range of Powerline products to help you chose the best adapters for your home. See our favourites in our Best Powerline adapters round up.
TrendNet Powerline AV2 Ethernet and Wi-Fi: features
The TrendNet Powerline 500 AV2 boasts Gigabit Ethernet ports for the fastest speeds. While you won’t reach the possible speeds of Gigabit at least you know that you’re not limited by slower 10/100 Ethernet ports used on most other Powerline adapters. Sadly the Wireless Access Point adapter has the slower 10/100 Ethernet ports, and we were less impressed with the straightline speed of the TPL-410APK, although the Wi-Fi function makes up for this.
Number of Ethernet ports
How many devices do you need to plug into Ethernet in the second room? At home my smart TV has an Ethernet port, and so does my Sky+ box. Games consoles are another reason you should consider Powerline for online gaming.
If I wanted to connect my laptop by Ethernet, too, I’d want a Powerline adapter with three Ethernet ports, although of course I’d be unlikely to require all at the same time so could swap out the cables as I needed them.
So you can get away with a Powerline adapter that has just the one Ethernet port but it’s often more convenient to have more on the second-room adapter. You can of course add a multi-port Ethernet Switch (from about £20) if you want to extend to more than one device.
The TrendNet Powerline AV2 Adapter Kit (TPL-408E2K) comes with the two standard adapters – each of which has just the one Ethernet port.
The TrendNet Powerline 500 Wireless Kit (TPL-410APK), however, boasts not just the extra Wi-Fi hotspot but two Ethernet ports on the second-room adapter. Sadly the Wireless TPL-410APK has the slower 10/100 Ethernet ports, and we were less impressed with its straight-line speed, although the Wi-Fi function makes up for this.
If you live in a building where multiple households share the same electrical wiring system you can stop other residents using your Powerline with the press of a button.
The TPL-408E has a sync button that can create secure power-line connections between multiple units. Press this button on each adapter within two minutes of one another and they work only with each other and not with other Powerline adapters.
If you buy the TPL-408E set, to create a second Wi-Fi hotspot in your house you’ll need to buy the additional TrendNet Powerline 500 AV Wireless Access Point (above). You need this product and at least one of the standard TrendNet Powerline 500 AV2 adapters. Or you can buy the TrendNet Powerline 500 Wireless Kit (TPL-410APK), which comes standard with wireless functions.
Apart from the secure connection button the adapters don’t feature a lot of extras. There’s no Pass-through socket, so you will lose a power socket in each room you have these installed.
TrendNet Powerline AV2 Ethernet and Wi-Fi: performance
We tested the TrendNet Powerline AV2 Adapter Kit and its optional Wi-Fi Wireless Access Point 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.
We were pretty blown away by the speeds we got from the TrendNet Powerline AV2 Adapter Kit (TPL-408E). Where most top-end Powerline adapters peaked at around 95Mbps at the ideal setup (where we sat the two adapters next to each other in the same room – itself rather pointless but it proves a point in testing) the TrendNet adapters pulled off a remarkable 146Mbps. This is about 50% faster than other Powerlines we have tested. Update: Devolo’s pricier dLan 1200+ has now beaten the TrendNet.
More important, though, is the house average speed, where we test the second adapter in a room a fair distance from the router.
The TrendNet AV2 was again faster than its completion, averaging a speed of 71Mbps using Powerline and ethernet. This was the fastest average speed we got in our comparison of Powerline over ethernet, and is sufficient for most users, and we downloaded HD TV with few pauses. If you want the fastest Powerline speeds you need to make the jump to the pricier gigabit Powerline, on adapters such as the £159 Devolo 1200+.
Using the Wi-Fi of the Wireless Access Point we again got the best results we’ve seen from a Powerline device, with a 68Mbps average – almost as fast as using the Ethernet cable!
We tested the Wi-Fi-ready TPL-410APK at a different date, so the environment may have changed, and at 50Mbps it didn’t perform as well as the 408E. But this speed should still be adequate for catch-up TV downloading.
TrendNet Powerline AV2 Ethernet and Wi-Fi: pricing
The TrendNet Powerline AV2 Adapter Kit (TPL-408E2K) includes two adapters and Ethernet cables, and costs £48.99.
The optional TrendNet Powerline 500 AV Wireless Access Point (TPL-410AP) costs an additional £38.99 on its own or £69.99 with the first-room adapter (Wireless Kit, TPL-410APK). It’s well worth considering if you want a faster Wi-Fi signal away from your wireless router – say for browsing the Internet in the lounge or kitchen. See below for the best online prices. We’ve seen the Wireless Starter Kit for under £50, which is great value.
There is a way to get the best of both worlds. Buy the single TPL-408E adapter (as opposed to the two-adapter TPL-408E2K kit) for £35, and then add the single Wireless Access Point (TPL-410AP for £41 – making a total of £76. It’s well worth considering if you want a faster Wi-Fi signal away from your wireless router – say for browsing the Internet in the lounge or kitchen – as well as the faster 408E Gigabit Ethernet adapter.
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.