ZyXEL Power Line & WiFi Extender Review
It’s the first time we have heard of the name ZyXEL but after a little research, it looks like they are a well established and mature company located in Taiwan that produces home and business network products. We got approached regarding products from their home range, in particular the WRE2206 Wireless N300 Range Extender and the PLA5256 Powerline Adapter. We got them sent to the office and I plugged them in to try them out!
PLA5256 Power Line Adapter
First up is the Power Line adapter. You may have seen other Power Line reviews on TechNuovo, as they are a must around the house now and there are plenty to choose from on the market. If you don’t know already, a Power Line adapter uses the electrical cabling in your house to transmit data through and thus, allow an ethernet connection in those hard to reach places. The PLA5256, yeh… there are a number of variations to the products, only identifiable by their product number, is a 1000Mbps Power Line adapter, great for streaming HD video, multitasking and gaming.
Two things stand out at me straight away. The adapter includes a plug socket, and also has two ethernet ports, which is great. Out of those, you get two adapters, an ethernet cable and instructions. The adapters come in a glossy white finish, have three indicator lights on the front, two ethernet ports and a security button on the bottom. They feel solid and well built.
Set up was very easy and even if its your first time using Power Lines, it’s very much plug and play. To set up, I simply plugged one adapter by my router and plugged an ethernet cable into the bottom of it. I then placed the other adapter in my living room and plugged another ethernet cable from the adapter into a device – a PS4 in my case. Turn them both on, and within a few seconds, the two are communicating with each other and we’re done.
There is an added feature of advanced end-to-end 128-bit AES encryption which is built into the ZyXEL PLA5256. It prevents users outside of your network from entering your personal local network. To do this, simply hold one button in for a few seconds, and then do the same on the other and they will match up. Very simply indeed.
Performance wise, very good. I didnt get any signal or speed loss between head end and device end, which is very good. However, I am currently only running at 89mb, and the unit itself is capped to 1000Mbps. So if my connection was faster, you would notice a drop in speed between the two. Have no fear, ZxYEL do offer a 2000Mbps version if required.
The best thing about the adapters is that you can plug something else into the adapter, so you avoid losing one of your precious plug sockets on the wall. This is vital nowadays, as every electronic device requires a plug and around TV spaces, computer desks, sockets are a precious commodity! You can also feed two devices with these adpaters, i.e a PS4 and a TV from one socket.
Overall, very decent Power Lines and that would cater for most households wanting to stream or game.
WRE2206 Wireless N300 Range Extender
Next up was the WiFi range extender, also another must in your home, if it’s a large one of course! The WRE2206 extender enables users to boost the connection in areas with unreliable signal. It’s meant to have powerful amplified antennas built in, which offer 30% more coverage than other range extenders on the market.
Out of the much smaller box this time, comes a simple plug, albeit larger than a traditional plug, comes with three buttons, indicator lights and an ethernet port on its bottom. Glossy white finish and well built again.
Is it as simple as plug and play? I thought it would be but I had a little more trouble trying to set this adapter up. Instructions are vague but in brief, plug it in near to your router, turn it on, hit the WPS button on your router, followed by the WPS button on the adapter and we’re done.
There are also work arounds if your router doesn’t have WPS built into it. It took me several attempts to try and get the adapter working, possibly because I was unsure if it was working or not. Eventually I managed to get it to work and found that in a room where I used to get one bar of WiFi, I’m now getting three bars!
I did however lose speed, as the adapter is limited to 300Mbps. Problem? For browsing, no. For streaming or gaming? It could be, as you really want the best connection possible when using those services. You can also connect directly to the adapter, via its IP address and manually set up and change settings.
Overall, a good WiFi extender, regardless of its restricted speed. It may not cater for the more demanding needs, but when I got it to work, it worked really well.
Prices start at around £30 and can be found on various popular sites. For further info, check out the official ZyXEL website.