Power Over Ethernet Recommendations for WMC Media Extenders? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-16-2012, 08:38 AM - Thread Starter
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I recently setup a HTPC (which works like a charm!) and since I don't really game on the Xbox 360 anymore, it's been regulated to Media Extender duties for streaming Live TV/DVR into the bedroom (via Windows Media Center 7).

Despite having one of the best prosumer dual-band Wireless N routers (Asus rt-n56u), optimized channels, consistent bandwith, excellent and stable signal, etc., wirelessly using the Xbox 360 as a Media Extender only works 80% of the time. As a result, Girlfriend's acceptance factor is very low.

  • Can't fast forward or rewind recorded materials. The video would freeze.
  • It takes the WMC Start Menu and Guide forever to load.
  • Only certain programs would stream (e.g. recorded Olympics footage would not play, but another HD recording would)

The router is sitting downstairs in the living and the bedroom is directly upstairs. I have a 25' Cat5e running along the stairwell now...aesthetically ugly and prone to tripping...but the Xbox 360 Media Extender works like a charm. Unfortunately, I can't drill holes without causing a mess since it's an old house with plaster walls.

This has made me research into Power Over Ethernet options. Apparently, there are a slew of products available and varying price points. It also looks like I want one that can accommodate higher bandwidth (e.g. 200Mbps instead of 85Mbps) since real-world bandwidth is much lower with these products.

Are there any recommendations and/or personal experiences that anyone can share? Here are the ones I'm looking at:

TRENDNet 200Mbps TPL-303E2K: $56 on Amazon

ZyXEL PL401v3 AV200 - $70 on Amazon

Netgear Powerline AV+ 200 - $142 on Amazon

Also, now, why would I want to spend almost an extra $100 on the Netger version, as opposed to the TrendNet? Or even ZyXEL?
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post #2 of 17 Old 08-16-2012, 08:54 AM
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I've got a Netgear power line ethernet (I can't remember if it is the 200 or 300) for FREE....that's right for FREEE....from U-Verse ATT. My internet connection wasn't working correctly in my master bedroom, and I threatened to cancel. They came over and installed it for FREE. It worked great for internet, online applications such as Netflix, Hulu, and DVD movies streaming, but it wasn't able to stream high bitrate HD movies AT ALL. I found out that the rookie tech. didn't terminate my master bedroom Cat5e cable correctly. I fixed them myself, and now I've got a FREE Netgear power line ethernet biggrin.gif

The new tech. believe my Trendnet 5 port gigabit switch wasn't working correctly, so he gave me a NETGEAR 8 Port Gigabit Business-Class Desktop Switch - Lifetime Warranty (GS108) for FREE as well biggrin.gif, which replaced my 8 port Trendnet gigabit switch. biggrin.gif


Anyway, power line might work, but be warned it will depend how good your power line cables are in your house. Since you mentioned your house be old, it might not work. My house was built in the early 80's, and the wiring ins't the best.

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post #3 of 17 Old 08-16-2012, 09:40 AM
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Title is backwards. Should read Ethernet over poweline. POE is something totally different (powering a device over ethernet).

I have a set of those Trendnet adapters, they work better then wireless from Plex Server to a Roku running the Plex client app.
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post #4 of 17 Old 08-16-2012, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comp625 View Post

This has made me research into Power Over Ethernet options. Apparently, there are a slew of products available and varying price points. It also looks like I want one that can accommodate higher bandwidth (e.g. 200Mbps instead of 85Mbps) since real-world bandwidth is much lower with these products.
Are there any recommendations and/or personal experiences that anyone can share? Here are the ones I'm looking at:
TRENDNet 200Mbps TPL-303E2K: $56 on Amazon
ZyXEL PL401v3 AV200 - $70 on Amazon
Netgear Powerline AV+ 200 - $142 on Amazon
Also, now, why would I want to spend almost an extra $100 on the Netger version, as opposed to the TrendNet? Or even ZyXEL?
There are a couple of threads here on PLA's that you could look up and read. Powerline adapters (PLA's) are very situational and depend a lot on the state and routing of your house wiring -- you already sent up a red flag when you said you have an old house with plaster walls. That usually means old wiring. The biggest bottle neck with PLA's is if the circuit you are using goes across the poles in the breaker box. That will cut throughput quite a bit.

I use a combination of Netgear AV200 and AV500 PLA's (two of each) and have been satisfied because I can work within their limitations. My suggestion, which would be echoed by many, is to buy a pair from a dealer with a good return policy so you can try them out and see if they work for you. No one will be able to tell you if your wiring will support adequate throughput or not -- you just have to try it. If you want to stream HD content, I would not bother with the AV200 and go straight for the AV500 models (the 200/500 means a max of 100/250 Mbps each way). The AV500's show up as GigE devices on a switch whereas the AV200's show up as 100baseT devices.

From my experience, I can easily pull two HDTV streams (~31Mbps total) across a pair of PLA's on the same pole of the breaker box. I can only reliably pull one HDTV stream across PLA's that go across the poles -- ymmv.

You can buy a pair of the AV200 (XAVB2101) for $76 or a pair of the AV500 (XAVB5101) for $114 from BestBuy which has an easy return policy. I don't know why the Netgear ones are priced so much higher. I have no experience with the others so I can't say how they work vs Netgear.

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post #5 of 17 Old 08-29-2012, 08:42 AM
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How is it working for you, issue solved ?
i have similar situation :
first floor living room -router pc/dvr and WMC
second floor bedr oom - xbox extender

I bought PWR511K01 500 Mbps Powerline Ethernet Adapter Kit.
powerline adapter works great for netflix and other web based vidoe even in hd.

but it seems my PVR (WMC / hd homerun) records at 60 FPS and not 29.997 or 24 fps and craps out 50% of time .
maybe upstairs is on a different circuit, i dont know?
I got a 1MB per second download from a file copy test.

im now going to attempt to use my existing coax cable as a ethernet wire to the bedroom.
Today, im buying Actiontec Ethernet to Coax Adapter Kit for Homes with Cable TV Service (ECB2500CK01) , hope this solves my issue.
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post #6 of 17 Old 08-29-2012, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uberginsu View Post

How is it working for you, issue solved ?
i have similar situation :
first floor living room -router pc/dvr and WMC
second floor bedr oom - xbox extender
I bought PWR511K01 500 Mbps Powerline Ethernet Adapter Kit.
powerline adapter works great for netflix and other web based vidoe even in hd.
but it seems my PVR (WMC / hd homerun) records at 60 FPS and not 29.997 or 24 fps and craps out 50% of time .

Are you experiencing the framerate issue upon playback via the Media Extender? Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think the framerate issue has to do with using the Powerline Ethernet Adapter. The framerate issue probbaly stems from the Xbox WMC software and/or from the HTPC itself, and/or the Television Set in your bedroom. My knowledge is limited on the framerate discrepancy issue though. frown.gif

Regarding my own Powerline Ethernet Adapter experience, I also purchased a brand new Actiontec PWR511 500mbps kit. Like you, I was only using it for the purposes of using the Xbox 360 (a 10/100 device) as a Media Extender.

Upon opening the box, I was shocked at how simple everything looked. Two adapters, each with an Ethernet plug and each has 3 sets of lights to indicate Power On/Standby Mode, Link Strength (Red = Bad, Yellow = Mediocre, Green = Awesome) and Ethernet Activity. The package came with Actiontec's (very) thin manual which made installation seem very easy. Nothing is ever easy...

First, I plugged the Adapter in my Living Room and hooked it up with a Gigabit Switch (which is connected to the Router). My living room houses my HTPC. The second adapter was plugged into my Bedroom and I had it connected to my laptop for testing purposes. The "Link Strength" light would NOT come on...so I thought maybe it was a bad combination of outlets/circuits.

So I started fiddling around with other outlet combinations (thinking that the wiring in my house stunk), I remained baffled since the "Link Strength" light still would not come on. At one point, I even plugged both units into the same exact circuit. Nada. mad.gif This made me believe that neither Adapter was communicating with each other.

I then found instructions on Actiontec's website about resetting each Adapter to default. The instructions advise holding onto the Security button for 15 seconds or longer. I tried resetting to default about 5 times on each Adapter. It still didn't work. mad.gifmad.gif

Finally, the Actiontec website gave instructions on how to change the encryption key on both Adapters. Viola! It finally worked! Changing the encrpytion can be tricky because the units don't flash to tell you that the process is done, but I didn't care about messing this up because I thought I had lemons. I was very close to boxing the adapters up for RMA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Actiontec 
How do I change the encryption key on a PWR500 Powerline Adapter?
1. Plug the Adapters into electrical outlets on the same circuit.
2. Press the Security button on one Adapter for no more than 10 seconds. When the button is released, the Power LED flashes.
3. Press the Security button on the second Adapter for 10 seconds and release it when the Power LED flashes.
4. Press the Security button on the first Adapter for 1 to 3 seconds, then release. The Power LED on the first Adapter starts to flash.
5. Within 120 seconds after performing step 4, press the Security button on the second Adapter for 1 to 3 seconds, then release.
The two Adapters are now connected on the same Powerline network with a new encryption key.

In terms of performance, I haven't done any internal file transfer tests BUT using Speedtest.net, I score the same exact speeds that I would when connected directly to the router (20mbps down/2mbps up - which is the max level for the service that I pay for). The "Link Strength" indicator consistently shows Green as it never flashes to Yellow or Red. SpeedTest.net will also display your Latency, and it never showed any lag as I kept scoring < 10ms (which is great for gamers).

Both NetFlix and Live TV/DVR playback using the Xbox 360 Media Extender works well. It is definitely more stable than Wi-Fi. I can fast forward and rewind within WMC without any problems (whereas WMC would freeze if I tried to fast forward or rewind when using Wi-Fi). Occasionally, WMC will spit out a "Network Problem" box in the top right hand corner but there wouldn't be any visible visual or auditory problems (a minor nuisance considering I don't watch TV in the bedroom often).

Pros:
- Impressive performance that is MORE than adequate for Web Browsing/Emailing
- Works well with streaming 720p content from both WMC and NetFlix.
- Small physical size and adapters can be plugged in upside down, if necessary
- Can't beat the price vs performance ratio

Cons:
- I imagine problems if I were streaming 1080p though...
- Encryption was not working right out of the box
- Unit can't be plugged into a Surge Protector Strip, so it'll eat up an entire outlet
- Documentation is scarce
- Don't let the "500 mbps" tagline fool you...this is NOT a Gigabit device.

Conclusion: Great alternative if you can't run a hardwire Ethernet cable to the desired room.
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post #7 of 17 Old 08-31-2012, 11:58 AM
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I setup a ethernet over powerline network for my living room last night. My network structure:

cable modem (25mbit/2.5mbit) -> Linksys 310N Wireless N Gigabit router -> D-LINK DHP-500AV adapter -> powerline to living room across/down the hall -> D-LINK DHP-540 4-port Gigabit powerline switch -> TV/Popcorn Hour

I don't have my TV yet (just moved), but tested it using a cheap netbook last night and was pulling about 90mbit read/write to my Windows 7 desktop via SMB shares. Not as good as the 130-150mbit some people get with this setup, but keep in mind my house was probably built in the 50's (reno'd last year but not sure on the electrical). Even 90mbit is more than enough to stream 1080p so I won't bother fiddling around trying to improve speed. I tested a few 15-18mbit MKVs and was able to seek instantly, no stuttering etc.

Also of interest is latency was low and consistent. I was getting about an extra 15-20ms on top of what my desktop was doing to www.google.ca, with no spiking. Would be awesome for gaming compared to wifi.
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post #8 of 17 Old 08-31-2012, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grambo View Post

I setup a ethernet over powerline network for my living room last night. My network structure:
cable modem (25mbit/2.5mbit) -> Linksys 310N Wireless N Gigabit router -> D-LINK DHP-500AV adapter -> powerline to living room across/down the hall -> D-LINK DHP-540 4-port Gigabit powerline switch -> TV/Popcorn Hour
I don't have my TV yet (just moved), but tested it using a cheap netbook last night and was pulling about 90mbit read/write to my Windows 7 desktop via SMB shares. Not as good as the 130-150mbit some people get with this setup, but keep in mind my house was probably built in the 50's (reno'd last year but not sure on the electrical). Even 90mbit is more than enough to stream 1080p so I won't bother fiddling around trying to improve speed. I tested a few 15-18mbit MKVs and was able to seek instantly, no stuttering etc.
Also of interest is latency was low and consistent. I was getting about an extra 15-20ms on top of what my desktop was doing to www.google.ca, with no spiking. Would be awesome for gaming compared to wifi.

Which Powerline Adapter are you using?

Since writing my post a few days ago, I jinxed myself and have been noticing random pauses and/or "Network Errors" in video that occur once every 15-20 minutes or so. I think they are attributable to electrical spikes since I previously ran a long Cat5 from the router to the Media Extender upstairs - it was a hideous sight but performance was top notch.

It's pretty clear that I can pull pretty amazing speeds using these Powerline Adapters, but the spikes can drive someone bonkers (like me) who is sensitive to stability.

I also wonder if my woes can be solved if I were to use a higher end Powerline Adapter (e.g. the ones that are truly Gigabit and can truly pull in faster speeds than the Actiontec PWR511).
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post #9 of 17 Old 09-04-2012, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comp625 View Post

Which Powerline Adapter are you using?
Since writing my post a few days ago, I jinxed myself and have been noticing random pauses and/or "Network Errors" in video that occur once every 15-20 minutes or so. I think they are attributable to electrical spikes since I previously ran a long Cat5 from the router to the Media Extender upstairs - it was a hideous sight but performance was top notch.
It's pretty clear that I can pull pretty amazing speeds using these Powerline Adapters, but the spikes can drive someone bonkers (like me) who is sensitive to stability.
I also wonder if my woes can be solved if I were to use a higher end Powerline Adapter (e.g. the ones that are truly Gigabit and can truly pull in faster speeds than the Actiontec PWR511).

I'm using a D-Link DHP-500 (4 port switch style with AC power cable to wall) on the living room side for the TV/media boxes, then a D-Link DHP-500AV (single port plug-in style adapter) in my office where the router and cable modem are. From my reserach, these D-Links provide the best price/performance for powerline, the 4-port was $85 and the single port adapter was $62.

Just got my TV last night and experimented with a few MKVs, was playing back 20-25mbit scenes without any issues, will do more testing tonight.
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post #10 of 17 Old 09-23-2012, 09:14 AM - Thread Starter
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I've owned the Actiontec PWR511K01 Powerline Adapter for over 3 weeks now. WMC Media Extender performance is sometimes awesome, and other times, a stuttery experience. This inconsistency has gotten me quite upset, unfortunately, especially after raving about it after Week 1. mad.gif

  • Live TV or Recordings will stream perfectly but then the video will freeze about 5 minutes in. I can pause for about a minute, and the problem clears itself away -- the pause almost acts like a buffering period.
  • The video will then freeze again every 15-20 minutes or so.
  • Sometimes, I can hit the Fast Forward by 30 Seconds button, and it will clear up the frozen video.
  • The "Network Issue" box will pop up during these occurances.

Mind you, streaming HD content via Netflix & Amazon Instant Video work perfectly. I've also hooked up my laptop to do Speedtests and the download/upload speeds are fantastic. It makes me wonder if these network drops are occasional in frequency, and it throws WMC into a state of haywire?

I also wonder if it's something related to my HTPC's Network Settings? Like a Jumbo Packets setting or something along those lines?

Lastly, I wonder if my network issues would get resolved if I were to get one of the higher-end Powerline Adapters (e.g. Netgear Powerline AV 200+)? Although the Xbox 360 isn't Gigabit, my thought is that perhaps the higher-end ones will give me that slightly extra boost in 10/100 speed that will fix my network issues.
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post #11 of 17 Old 09-23-2012, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comp625 View Post

I recently setup a HTPC (which works like a charm!) and since I don't really game on the Xbox 360 anymore, it's been regulated to Media Extender duties for streaming Live TV/DVR into the bedroom (via Windows Media Center 7).
Despite having one of the best prosumer dual-band Wireless N routers (Asus rt-n56u), optimized channels, consistent bandwith, excellent and stable signal, etc., wirelessly using the Xbox 360 as a Media Extender only works 80% of the time. As a result, Girlfriend's acceptance factor is very low.
  • Can't fast forward or rewind recorded materials. The video would freeze.
  • It takes the WMC Start Menu and Guide forever to load.
  • Only certain programs would stream (e.g. recorded Olympics footage would not play, but another HD recording would)
The router is sitting downstairs in the living and the bedroom is directly upstairs. I have a 25' Cat5e running along the stairwell now...aesthetically ugly and prone to tripping...but the Xbox 360 Media Extender works like a charm. Unfortunately, I can't drill holes without causing a mess since it's an old house with plaster walls.
This has made me research into Power Over Ethernet options. Apparently, there are a slew of products available and varying price points. It also looks like I want one that can accommodate higher bandwidth (e.g. 200Mbps instead of 85Mbps) since real-world bandwidth is much lower with these products.
Are there any recommendations and/or personal experiences that anyone can share? Here are the ones I'm looking at:
TRENDNet 200Mbps TPL-303E2K: $56 on Amazon
ZyXEL PL401v3 AV200 - $70 on Amazon
Netgear Powerline AV+ 200 - $142 on Amazon
Also, now, why would I want to spend almost an extra $100 on the Netger version, as opposed to the TrendNet? Or even ZyXEL?

Did you try reorienting the RT-N56U router. One orientation works best for horizontal coverage and the other orientation works best for vertical coverage. (I think when the router is vertical gives the best horizontal coverage and when the router is horizontal works for the best vertical coverage) I have two of the RT-56U routers with one in AP mode. But I have a one level condo so both mine are sitting vertically and give a superb signal and coverage.

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post #12 of 17 Old 09-23-2012, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaronwt View Post

Did you try reorienting the RT-N56U router. One orientation works best for horizontal coverage and the other orientation works best for vertical coverage. (I think when the router is vertical gives the best horizontal coverage and when the router is horizontal works for the best vertical coverage) I have two of the RT-56U routers with one in AP mode. But I have a one level condo so both mine are sitting vertically and give a superb signal and coverage.

Ah, I never knew that! Nice tip! smile.gif

For WMC Media Extender purposes, wouldn't a faux-hard connnection (via Powerline Adapters) still be better than using Wi-Fi though (even if the Router was sitting 1 ft away from the 360/Media Extender)?
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post #13 of 17 Old 09-24-2012, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comp625 View Post

Ah, I never knew that! Nice tip! smile.gif
For WMC Media Extender purposes, wouldn't a faux-hard connnection (via Powerline Adapters) still be better than using Wi-Fi though (even if the Router was sitting 1 ft away from the 360/Media Extender)?

From my experience, absolutely. As long as the powerline is functioning reasonably well. High end wireless N (and ac) have more throughput, but they cannot touch powerline for consistency/packet loss/interference. I highly recommend powerline for home theatre streaming solutions. Wireless AC might change this a bit, but it's early in the game (and the good Asus router is close to $200).
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post #14 of 17 Old 09-24-2012, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by grambo View Post

From my experience, absolutely. As long as the powerline is functioning reasonably well. High end wireless N (and ac) have more throughput, but they cannot touch powerline for consistency/packet loss/interference. I highly recommend powerline for home theatre streaming solutions. Wireless AC might change this a bit, but it's early in the game (and the good Asus router is close to $200).

Ya, I tried the streaming over Wi-Fi even with the router in vertical position, and the WMC experience was not fun.

Going back to the Actiontec PWR511K01 that I had been using for the past month, perhaps I should replace it with a BETTER powerline adapter? According to SmallNetBuilder's article, upgrading to a higher-end Powerline Adapter should give me higher usable throughput.

Now let's assume that my Powerline performance is actually inconsistent because of noise or other electrical factors. Would something like this help? Corinex Powerline Noise Filter

Thoughts?
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post #15 of 17 Old 09-25-2012, 12:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comp625 View Post

Ya, I tried the streaming over Wi-Fi even with the router in vertical position, and the WMC experience was not fun.
Going back to the Actiontec PWR511K01 that I had been using for the past month, perhaps I should replace it with a BETTER powerline adapter? According to SmallNetBuilder's article, upgrading to a higher-end Powerline Adapter should give me higher usable throughput.
Now let's assume that my Powerline performance is actually inconsistent because of noise or other electrical factors. Would something like this help? Corinex Powerline Noise Filter
Thoughts?

When I was doing research, there is a speed boost for higher end adapters. From what I found, the D-Link DHP-540 and 500AV were some of the highest performing units (and don't cost much more than competitors).

No idea on the powerline filter, I've read best practice is just plug the powerline adapters directly into the wall (not into a powerbar/surge protector). Smooth sailing for me so far.
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post #16 of 17 Old 03-02-2013, 02:34 PM
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I am experiencing the very same issue with the Actiontec adapters. I'm streaming TV over the network from a Silicon Dust HD Homerun Prime, and every 10 minutes or so, the video stutters, breaks and WMC reports that the Prime cannot be found on the network

I first started encountering this on Windows 8, and thinking that this might be related to WIndows 8, I downgraded to Windows 7, but WIndows wasn't the problem.

1080 streaming from the Prime is a UDP affair and very prone to network errors and jitter. Even though I can get my WiFi N adapter in the HTPC to connect to my router at anywhere between 108-130 Mbps, WMC performance over WIFI is much worse than that on the Actiontec, even though the Actiontec connects at only 100 Mbps.

At this point, I've pretty much given up on powerline adapters. I've resigned myself to runing a coax/ethernet cable to the HTPC ...
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post #17 of 17 Old 03-03-2013, 09:49 PM
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Yesterday, for whatever reason, I decided to reset my powerline adapters to factory default and then reset the encryption key. And magically thereafter, I've had no issues with streaming from the HD Homerun Prime. Saw Inception yesterday for more than 3 hrs ... no glitches, not a single corrupt pixel! No issues today either. I'm keeping my fingers crossed ...
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