Review of Netgear HDX101 Powerline HD Ethernet Adapters
Why should you not buy the Netgear HDX101 Powerline HD Ethernet Adapters (or any other Powerline network adapters for that matter)?
Offering 200 mbps of network bandwidth, those adapters looks like a very good replacement for a slow wireless network you might have. No long cable required; you simply need to plug one adapter in room A, another adapter in room B, and attach both to the respective room’s LAN / network appliance to create a instant long-range LAN in your house. Does that look too good to be true? I’d say it is.
I bought those things 2 months ago (the HDXB101 package includes two HDX101 adapters). 160$ US + shipping on buy.com.
Since then, I had time to:
- Be happy to receive them and thrilled to try them.
- Be happy about how easy they were to install.
- Be disappointed about the performance I got on the first try (600 KBps).
- Loose a considerable amount of time upgrading their firmware, testing them in different configuration, with different devices.
- Loose what seems like a colossal amount of time with Netgear’s technical support to finally be told I should return the units back through RMA to get new ones.
- Loose my patience too many times to count while talking to an indian technical support representative, trying to explain I was told to get an RMA number in the online case #XYZ, and try to spell my address countless times (and he still got it wrong!)
- Send back the adapters at my expense.
- Open a new technical support case online to give in writing my complete address so they would change what the guy I spoke to wrote in my file!
- Wait 3 weeks for nothing to happen, loose patience and open a new technical support case online asking why I wasn’t getting my new adapters back.
- Wait 1 week to receive Netgear’s package.
- Be called by DHL support to ask me what my real address was, because the address the Indian technical support guy wrote something incomprehensible, even if another technical support technician assured me that my address had now been corrected according to my last tech support online case.
- Be somewhat happy to finally receive it at work, and impatient to try them out again at home that night, even if I was pretty sure it wouldn’t change anything.
- Be very angry when I opened the package at home, and found only one HDX101 adapter in the box they sent me.
- Open another tech support case online to tell them they didn’t send me the right product back! I also mentioned they didn’t send it at the right address, and added a reference to the other tech support online case I had previously opened for that.
- Wait another week to receive Netgear’s package.
- Be called by DHL support again to ask me what my real address was, because they sent it once more to the unintelligible address!
- Finally receive the second HDX101 adapter.
- Test the new adapters once more in many configuration, and with many devices.
- Open another tech support online case mentioning all the tests I did and the crappy performance I was getting.
- Get a message back saying they would (finally!) escalate my problem to a level 2 engineer.
- Receive a nice message from the level 2 engineer, basically telling me that the adapters would never work at 200 mbps except in lab conditions.
Here’s parts of his last message to me:
When opting to use powerline networking, it is important to understand that currently, no standards exist regarding data communications over electrical lines.
I have the HDXB101 myself, and I do not get the 200 Mbps speed. Most of the time it is between 60 and 90 Mbps, and on rare occasions I will see a little over 100. My brother wanted to test the kit in his own home which was built around 3 years ago. He could not even get a sync between the 2 devices.
It may very well be that your home’s electrical environment is not favorable for powerline networking. It is clear that this is not a hardware problem since replacing the device yielded the same results. At some point there will be universal standards for data communications over electrical wiring. However, until that time, the results will vary from location to location.
So bottom line, if you want to try those new things, make sure you buy them at a retailer that will take them back if you’re not satisfied. Or wait for the future to arrive, since this seems to be the best advice Mr. 2nd level had for me.
And if you want good technical support, don’t deal with Netgear!
Ref: HDX101 product page