22 - 09 - 2017
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TRENDnet TPL-406E 500Mbps Compact Powerline AV Adapter Review

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INTRODUCTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tpl 406ea   Many people seem to have a hard time leaving the convenience of their local Wi-Fi network although they all know that it can't actually reach the throughput data transfer speed of a wired connection. Wiring a brand new house with Ethernet (CAT5/6) cables may not be quite easy but it's also the most ideal solution if you want the best possible performance for your local network (although it can get somewhat expensive). However for old houses/structures that is not really possible (unless you don't care having them around) and so in such cases you can either rely on a Wi-Fi connection or on Powerline adapters. Of course since Powerline adapters practically use the electrical wirings of the structure their performance is directly affected by their quality/age. Still even so Powerline adapters are quite faster than most Wi-Fi connections (especially when the modem/router is not near) something which we've proven time and again through our reviews. This time however in our lab we have the smallest Powerline adapter in the market to date, the TPL-406E 500Mbps compact powerline AV adapter by TRENDnet.

 

   TRENDnet is a global provider of award winning networking solutions to small and medium size business and home users. Building networking solutions since 1990, TRENDnet enables users to share broadband access, multimedia content and networked peripherals for true anywhere connectivity. TRENDnet's diverse product line includes Wireless, Fiber, Switch, Gigabit, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Keyboard/Video/Mouse (KVM), Internet Camera, Print Server, Powerline, Bluetooth, Storage Server, Power over Ethernet (PoE), and Multimedia Accessories. Based in Torrance, California, TRENDnet maintains branch offices in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Central America, South America, and Asia. TRENDnet’s management system is ISO 9001:2008 certified (click here to view certificate). TRENDnet emphasizes continual improvement as an essential component of its quality management system. This ensures rigorous process standards across the entire organization with respect product development, product quality and all other pertinent enterprise functions. TRENDnet's 250-plus product portfolio is distributed in over 125 countries. The TRENDnet brand is consistently recognized for high quality, exceptional performance and professional support.

 

   I can't say that i ever had a real problem with the size of powerline adapters especially if they featured an integrated electrical socket so i was a bit surprised when TRENDnet announced the availability of the TPL-406E series. It is indeed a compact powerline AV adapter but no matter how much i try i can't figure out why I’d ever use a compact adapter without an integrated electrical socket instead of a slightly larger one with an integrated electrical socket. Anyways things like that always come down to personal preference so at the end of the day our job is to test the TPL-406E 500Mbps Powerline AV adapter mainly to see whether or not its compact size affects its overall performance especially since all of the powerline adapters we've tested from TRENDnet so far have been top notch.

 


 

SPECIFICATIONS AND FEATURES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PACKAGING AND CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The TPL-406E is a compact Powerline adapter so naturally it arrived inside a very small box with a product picture at the front right above its main features.

 

 

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Over at the right side we see two small pictures of the TPL-406E.

 

 

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Both the features and package contents lists are present at the left side.

 

 

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Two large images at the rear of the box show the correct usage of the adapter.

 

 

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The adapter is securely placed inside the box with the help of a cardboard piece.

 

 

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As expected such a small box can't hold many things so aside the TPL-406E compact Powerline adapter you are also getting a 1.5m long Ethernet cable, software CD and a quick installation guide.

 


 

 

THE TPL-406E

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Much like most Powerline adapters in the market the TPL-406E is white and measures just 70mm in height, 50mm in width and 63mm in depth.

 

 

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To showcase just how small the TPL-406E really is i placed it right next to the Devolo dLAN 500 AVPlus adapter.

 

 

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The adapter has three activity LEDs at the front for power, Powerline connection and Ethernet connection.

 

 

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As usual the Ethernet port along with the sync/reset button is placed at the bottom.

 

 

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A large sticker with information such as the hardware and firmware of the adapter is placed at the rear.

 

 

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Testing a single TPL-406E Powerline adapter would not make much sense so we will be testing two of them (as sold in the TPL-406E2K package).

 


 

 

USING THE TPL-406E

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Since the bundled software CD will probably have outdated drivers you should head over to the official TRENDnet support page to download both those and the latest available firmware.

 

 

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The firmware update is done through the Powerline utility and takes less than a minute (as you can also see the reported speed between one of the systems and one of the adapters is 75Mbps).

 

 

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For extra security you can create a private network under the Privacy tab, you can diagnose potential issues under the Diagnostics tab and also check the current software version in the about page.

 


 

 

TESTING METHODOLOGY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   As already mentioned plenty of times in the past the performance of Powerline adapters is directly linked to the quality of the buildings electrical grid/wiring so the output speeds from such devices will most probably vary between new and old structures. Still the results recorded when testing Powerline adapters inside the same building should easily point out the best one and so to that end we used the well-known Passmark Performance Test to measure the data transfer rate in wired, wireless and Powerline modes with a fixed (for every test) distance of 15 meters between our Netgear DGN3500 Gigabit modem/router and the primary and secondary systems (30m in total between both systems). The network data transfer test was set to a duration of 40 seconds and was repeated a total of 5 times after which the average numbers were recorded into our charts. As a secondary test we are also using QCheck by Ixia which is considered amongst the top measuring tools of its kind. Tests are performed 6 times at throuput mode with a data size of 1000Kb and in the end the average numbers once again get recorded into our charts.

 

TEST RESULTS

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   Well although the TRENDnet Powerline utility reported a connection speed of 75Mbps between the primary system and one of the adapters unfortunately once both systems communicated with each other via both adapters the results were quite low certainly not what i was expecting.

 


 

 

CONCLUSION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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   Judging by our tests it's quite obvious that for TRENDnet to manufacture such a compact size Powerline adapter like the TPL-406E they had to cut some corners (for example use smaller yet slower components) and thus the inferior performance compared to every 500Mbps adapter we've reviewed to this day. As i already said i really don't know why and if I’d ever choose such a small Powerline adapter instead of a larger one with an integrated electrical socket (although it would be impossible for such a compact adapter to have an integrated socket) but for a product to actually find its way to retail there has to be a valid target group. Still with such performance levels i can only see this product targeted towards end users who will not really mind about their local network not having the best possible transfer speeds (perhaps for use in hotels?).

 

   The good thing i always liked about TRENDnet is that they put reasonable price tags on their products and so as we speak their TPL-406E 500Mbps AV Powerline adapter retails at around USD45 inside the USA and 40Euros inside the EU. However the real surprise comes from the two piece kit (the TPL-406E2K) which currently retails for USD74.99 inside the USA (Newegg/Amazon) and at around 70Euros inside the EU. Still no matter how low of a price the TPL-406E currently retails at i can't really recommend it for people who place performance above all else when making a purchase like this. Certainly if you want an Powerline adapter installed in a place where something larger simply won't do then yes by all means the TPL-406 compact Powerline AV adapter is indeed the smallest in the market as we speak (to my knowledge always) so my guess is that you will have no problem with its size. Overall however although TRENDnet has proven themselves time and again the TPL-406E is not what it should be and unless a firmware update (or a hardware revision) gets released to correct that it's simply not on par with other 500Mbps Powerline adapters. 

 

PROS

- Size
- 500Mbit/s Compatible
- AES 128bit Encryption
- Price (For Some)

 

 

CONS

- Performance