The Wi-Fi network in my home provides relatively thorough coverage throughout our 5,000 square feet, but lately I’ve been streaming Yankees baseball games in HD to my laptop, and sometimes the picture locks up due to bandwidth limitations. Thanks to Plaster Networks’ PLN3 powerline Ethernet adapters, however, I was easily able to extend my home network over existing AC wiring and maintain a more interference-free video stream.
Plaster Networks’ two PLN3 adapters
Founded by Silicon Valley networking pioneer Paul Baran (who is known as inventor of packet switching), Plaster Networks had been in product development for more than three years, before recently introducing its new line. The small Menlo Park, California, company wanted to create a product that was easy to install, complemented under-performing wireless networks, and offered advanced diagnostics tools. From my experience, the company succeeded in its goals.
Unlike other powerline adapters, Plaster Networks adapters include a dedicated network processor for network management, configuration, diagnostics, and troubleshooting. This enables management and configuration locally through a free, built-in Administration Console, or remotely through Plaster Networks Service. In both cases, customers can access this functionality via a standard browser. The company also has added the ability to view real-time throughput between any two adapters on the powerline network and to pinpoint sources of noise and interference.
When I opened the small box containing the two PLN3 adapters, an IX2 Isolator (more on that later), and a short blue Ethernet cable, I also expected to find a “reviewer’s guide.” I don’t review a lot of products personally, but when I do, there is usually a booklet that makes sure that untrained dorks like me don’t screw up the install. This time, however, all I found was Plaster Networks’ small fold-out Quick Start Guide, written very simply with consumers in mind.
Following Plaster Networks’ four-step instructions, my installation couldn’t have been easier. I had been told in a prior phone call with Plaster Networks that it would be wise to install an IX2 Isolator near my network router, to avoid interference from my computer power supply, network router power supply, cell phone charger, etc., so I plugged that in first. (HomePlug networks sometimes experience performance limitations because of interference from devices connected to electrical wiring.)
Plaster Networks’ IX2 Isolator Next, I plugged my existing power strips that connect most of my home office equipment into the two-outlet IX2, and then plugged that into the outlet next to where my first PLN3 adapter needed go. From the Ethernet jack on the PLN3, I then ran the supplied Ethernet cable to my router. To complete the powerline network, I plugged in the second PLN3 to an outlet at a far corner of my home and then connected another short Ethernet cable from it to my laptop. Instantly, I was up and running. It was that easy.
I later registered my network with Plaster Networks Service, which enables me to view its status and performance and to receive updates from the manufacturer. As a matter of fact, the software on each PLN3 adapter has already been upgraded after only a couple of weeks of use. This upgrade apparently occurred in the middle of the night (when network activity is at a minimum) and took a matter of seconds. The adapters ship with “auto-update” enabled by default. Users can disable the upgrade process through the adapter’s administration console.
Plaster’s upgrade capabilities also allow the company to update the HomePlug AV firmware on the adapters. The HomePlug chip manufacturer, Atheros, periodically releases firmware updates for HomePlug processors (Plaster is using the INT6400 processor), and the automated process enables them to preserve the customer’s investment.
Free Training for Custom Integrators
If you would like to learn more about the latest developments with powerline networking technologies and how residential systems experts and installers can take advantage of these updates, register for Plaster Networks next webinar, which is scheduled for Wednesday, June 23, from Noon-1pm EST.
The free session will address powerline networking basics, as well as the latest tools available to diagnose powerline network performance for optimum throughput and reliability to help create higher-value to clients.
To register, visit http://www.plasternetworks.com/webinar/