Arthur C. Clarke’s 3rd law states that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. I suspect Arthur might have felt somewhat vindicated if he ever played with NETGEAR’s powerline ethernet kits. There’s something uncanny about having a router work with one missing wire. I expected someone in a bad suit to run in and pass a metal hoop over the router to prove it wasn’t connected to a network.
There’s some satisfaction for me that these Powerline devices make a secondary use of existing cabling. They somehow cram their signal straight down the power cables, so anywhere you have a wall socket, you can have networking. Our current house has plenty of crawl space for running Cat6 (and I have), but the rigmarole I conducted at previous dwellings would have been unnecessary with this kit.
The downside is these devices can be a bit slower than a standard wired network, and are susceptible to electrical noise (like that caused by large appliances turning on and off). I didn’t notice any issue with this. I had no problem shuffling big files around and streaming video across the powerlines within my house. This particular kit comes with a four-port router on one end, so you can plug multiple devices in. To cater for the noise issue, the router has priorities on each port, so if the signal is degraded, the lowest-priority ports lose their speed first. The idea being that you plug your important media streaming device into the high priority port, and it should keep on working even if other devices are slowing down.
Mood: pleasantly surprised. If you need wired networking and aren’t a cable guy, grab your magic wand and a NETGEAR Powerline Ethernet Kit.