Actiontec MegaPlug AV200 Mbps Ethernet Adapter

by Greg King on February 6, 2008 in Networking

Looking for an alternative solution to a wireless LAN or drilling holes in the walls for a clean wired connection? The Actiontec AV200 might be of interest, with the ability to create a network using the power sockets already in your house. As it turns out, it’s effective, and incredibly easy to set up.

Setup and Testing

Setting up the MegaPlug AV kit is as straight forward of a process as it gets. Seriously, it takes longer to walk to where you want to place the second adapter than it does to actually set the hardware up. Once you have the two pieces where you want, all that is needed is to do is plug your PC into one of the plugs (assuming you have already plugged the other plug into your router) and you will see your PC acquiring an IP address from your router. Rarely do products live up to their simple setup promises but this one completely blows away our idea of quick and easy.

As simple as this is, what if you’re in an apartment? While most people won’t have a set of these units laying around, if they do, theoretically they can plug in their own MegaPlug AV into the wall and rock and roll all night long… all on your network. With that in mind, Actiontec has incorporated a slick little security setup disk into the package that the plugs come in. Also on the disk is a full manual in PDF form as well as Acrobat Reader but assuming that you already have a PDF reader in some form or another, we won’t spend any time on this.

To lock down your MegaPlug AV enabled network, all that is needed is to install the very small program on the setup disk on your PC, or any PC for that matter, and run the program. When the program is up, hook up your PC directly to one of the plugs and enter in whatever encryption key you want. Remove the first plug and repeat on the second. You now have an encrypted connection from one end of the plug to the other. Take that neighbors!

While not necessary for most users, those in highly populated buildings might want to consider taking the extra 5 minutes and setting up their security password as the 128-bit AES link level encryption is going to fend off all of your haxoring neighbors by keeping them out of your tubes.

With everything setup, I quickly took a look at the clock. 17 minutes. 17 minutes from start to finish setting this kit up, grabbing a drink, installing the encryption software and setting the key. If you wanted to split hairs, remove my alcoholic urge and the encryption setup and we are more than likely a lot closer to 10 minutes for the entire process. As the box states, “Very easy to install… simply plug it in”, the MegaPlug AV kit turned out to be the easiest setup of any hardware I have used to date. Sure there has been the occasional switch or monitor, but as network adapters go, this kit is tops.

Performance Testing

As in all of our throughput tests in other device reviews, our test file is a 600 MB .iso of a Windows XP install disk. To be completely honest, it’s 599 MB and I rounded up, sue me. The file in question was transferred to both wirelessly and through the Actiontec MegaPlug AV 200 and will originate on our test notebook. The hardware used is:

    Wireless Router

  • Linksys WRT54G
    Test Notebook

  • IBM Thinkpad T42
  • Intel Pentium-M 1.5 GHz CPU
  • 512MB DDR RAM
  • ATI Mobility Radeon 7500
  • Integrated Gigabit Ethernet
  • Windows XP Pro 32-Bit
    Test Desktop

  • IBM NetVista
  • Intel Pentium 4 2.66 GHz CPU
  • ATI 9800 XT
  • Integrated Gigabit Ethernet
  • Windows XP Pro 32-Bit

Like we mentioned earlier, to test the speed of the Actiontec kit, we simply transferred a 600 MB file from our test notebook to the test desktop. This test was run three separate times and the results were averaged out. We then took those times and divided them into the overall size of the file being transferred to get to our total MB/s second total.

The 600 MB .iso transferred over in 254 seconds which comes to 2.36 MB/s. If you want to look at this in Mbps, this falls just under 19 Mbps at 18.9.

The same file when transferred over the Actiontec power line adapter went through in a relatively speedy 143 seconds. This factors out to 4.2 MB/s and 33.6 Mbps.

While this is far short from the theoretical speeds of 200 Mbps, it is nearly double that of the wireless.