Networking via the mains has constantly gotten better and better in recent years and is in many situations a smarter alternative than messing around with wifi or running a cable. There are many manufacturers of plugs (homeplug), but the one that is almost always at the forefront of development is Devolo.
So even now. At IFA in September, it was the first in the world to show a plug with gigabit capacity, the Dlan 1200+.
Two milky white rectangles with minimal diodes in the middle. The design of the Dlan 1200+ is really on the spartan side.
It sounds very promising, but just as we saw when we tested Wi-Fi routers, the theoretical maximum speeds and the ones you get in real life (even under favorable conditions) are two completely different things.
The question is rather how the Dlan 1200+ compares to the previous fastest plugs. They had a stated speed of between 500 and 650 Mbit/s and a measured speed of just under a hundred. Gigabit we can probably keep dreaming about, but will it be a speed record? Are we breaking the 100-megabit barrier?
Super easy to get started
Let’s check the practicalities first. We have received a starter kit of two plugs, one to connect to a router and one to a suitable computer. They are extremely easy to install, just plug in, press sync buttons on either plug and wait a few seconds.
The plugs only have one button and one diode, and it’s a bit uncertain exactly what it represents when it lights up white, red, or flashes. It is not stated anywhere in the accompanying papers. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about that because everything works perfectly straight away.
The plugs are discreetly designed but large and sturdy. If you plug one plug into a double socket, the other is blocked. But since the plugs have extra sockets on the outside, where you can push in any devices and give them power, it doesn’t do much.
So to the important part: how fast does it go? 1200 is double the predecessor’s 600 Mbit/s. Is it noticeable in the measurement result? We connected two fast PCs with ssd and ran file transfer between them, as well as the Totusoft Lan Speed Test test program with 20 megabyte data blocks, the same equipment and method as when we last did a comparative test of homeplugs.
Best at a distance
On the plus side, this is the fastest set of plugs ever. The negative is that considering what you are paying and hoping for, it is disappointing. The best plugs we have tested so far had a speed of around 88 Mbit/s when transferring between two plugs close together and just over 15 Mbit/s under difficult conditions when the sockets were at a great distance and on different electrical loops in the house.
Here we reach 145 Mbit/s instead. A clear improvement, but neither the promised doubling nor close to a few gigabits.
What is, however, a positive surprise is that the plug is much better at longer distances than its predecessors. In our test, we measure over 50 Mbit/si on our “difficult” connection. It is not a doubling of performance but more than a tripling.
The question is whether it is still worth investing in the Dlan 1200+ already now. It is certainly tempting to be able to match the speed of fiber broadband with the same capacity in the electricity grid network.
But with a price tag of over SEK 1,300 for a pair of plugs, it’s still not worth it. There is very little you need such high speeds for. It was fine to stream hd and even 4k video over the previous plugs if they were not at the border of unusable distance.
If you have a remote room where you just have to have faster network, it can be an option.
Facts: Devolo Dlan 1200+ starter kit
Connections: Gigabit ethernet, power outlet.
Homeplug standards: Homeplug AV, Homeplug GP
Stated transfer rates: 200/500/600/120 Mbit/s.
Maximum cord length: 400 m.
Power consumption: Max 4.2W
Compatibility: Windows 7, Windows 8, Ubuntu 12.04, Mac OS X 10.6 or later.
Size: 13.1 x 6.7 x 4.1 cm.
Weight: 210 grams.
Award: SEK 1,350 (package with 2 plugs)
Performance, data transfer:
1 meter: 585 Mbit/s
5 meters: 502 Mbit/s
10 meters + 2 walls: 243 Mbit/s
File transfer usb 3.0: 35 Mbit/s
Plus: Very easy to install. Power outlet in the plug.
Minus: Not exactly cheap. Not enough performance improvement. Large plugs.