Powerline adapters make use of your home's electrical wiring to send Internet network signals from one electrical outlet to another. Why does this matter? If you just bought a new 4K UHD Smart TV, you probably want to view some 4K video content from providers such as Netflix. You probably allowed your smart TV to connect to your cable modem/router wirelessly. Therein lies the problem. Many wifi channels in home modem/routers might supply only 10 Mbs (megabits per second). That's fine for HD TV, but for 4K, Netflix recommends a bandwidth of 25 Mbs. And that means a wired connection to your cable modem/router.
Oops. Did you forget to run Cat 6 cable throughout your house when you built it? Drat. Don't you just hate that? And did your significant other veto running cable along the ceiling and under the rugs? Well, cheer up. Powerline adapters are to the rescue. Here is what I did.
I bought the TP-LINK TL-PA9020P Starter Kit, the fastest powerline adapter in TP-LINK's offerings. The kit consists of two adapters and two network cables. The box claims these puppies can transmit up to 2000Mbs.
First false start. The box said plug one unit into an outlet near your cable modem/router and the other unit near where you need your internet/network signal. Well, that's fine for you to say, but the outlet nearest my modem/router is behind a desk and a rat's nest of wires. So, can't do that. There is an outlet just a few feet away, but too far for the included two-meter-long network cable to go from the powerline adapter to the modem/router. So I just used an extension cord.
The adapter near my 4K TV was down behind the TV, but with sufficient bodily contortions, I managed to plug the adapter into the wall. Connecting the adapters to each other, forming the network connection, is known as pairing. To pair these two units to each other, press the pair button on one and and then within two minutes, press the pair button on the other. The middle LED light will go on, indicating a completed, 128-bit AES encrypted network. Or maybe the middle light won't go on.
I tried pairing the units about a dozen times, first pressing one and then the other. Both had two of the three green lights on, but neither showed a connection (that middle LED).
Okay, so I knew the extension cord was a lame idea, so after some thought, I rearranged the stuff on my wife's desk (just on the other side of the wall), and plugged the unit into an outlet and the cable into the modem/router.
Second false start. This time, when I tried pairing, the middle light on both units lit. Success! I thought foolishly and prematurely. When I visited the "Check Your Network" screen in Netflix. it said Netflix was connected via wifi and not via the internet. The speed check in Netflix showed the wifi speed of 29Mbs. That is marginally enough for 4K, but who wants marginal when someone downloading a big pdf or jpeg can eat into that enough to drop me out of 4K?
So on that screen is a big Netflix help number, so I called that and said I couldn't figure out how to switch Netflix from wifi to wired. The guy didn't even laugh; he was very polite when he told me that it was a matter to be taken up with the TV.
Success at last. So I grabbed my Samsung Smart TV remote and went into the settings. Did you know you can tell the TV to look at the cable plug for its internet signal and turn off wifi? So I did. Back to the Netflix Check your Network choice. My network feed to my TV now shows 90Mbs!!
The TL-PA9020P startup kit is (theoretically) a snap to set up. Plug and play with no software to install. Each unit has two ethernet cable ports, adding flexibility to the setup. With a little perseverance, it can be installed by anyone, almost.
+ Two ethernet ports on each unit means you can add a computer or gaming system as well as your TV
+Pass through outlet
+1000 foot range between units.
+24/7 toll free technical support
+You can pair more units to the existing two
The unit takes up the entire two-outlet space
The Bottom Line:
Powerline adapters solve a real problem really well. If you need the internet for the TV in the living room or for the computer in the basement--when your modem/router is in the den, then I recommend that you check out powerline adapters. I did a couple of hours of research looking at different brands and features and capacities. These might be overkill, but they are feature rich and great performers.