TP-Link has joined the ranks of companies shipping Powerline ethernet adapter kits that comply with the HomePlug AV2 standard with MIMO (multiple input/multiple output) capabilities. Like Netgear's Powerline PL1200-100PAS, TP-Link's TL-PA8030P KIT provides a power-pass-through, so you don't lose the use of whatever power receptacle you plug the adapter into. But unlike any adapter in its class, these TP-Link adapters also provide three gigabit ethernet ports, where most adapters have just one.
Having multiple ethernet ports in the adapter could eliminate the need to deploy an ethernet switch when you need to add more than one hard-wired network client in a single location. If you need to support a cable or satellite set-top box, a media streamer, and a Blu-ray player, for instance, the TP-Link would have you covered.
Don't miss our in-depth roundup of powerline network adapters
Like the D-Link DHP-701AV, Netgear PL1200-100PAS, and ZyXel PLA5405KIT powerline adapters that preceded it, the TP-Link TL-PA8030P KIT uses two of the three available wires in your home's electrical system to carry data. But that also means your home must be outfitted with a ground wire and three-prong receptacles to take advantage of MIMO. That's not an issue with modern construction, because that's part of the national electrical code, but many older homes have just two wires.
Why this matters: Powerline networking can be a great solution when your wireless router can't reach a distant client. In our tests, we've found that HomePlug AV2 adapters with MIMO deliver the highest performance of all powerline adapters. The availability to consumers of a fourth choice should bring down the cost of these products. Plus, TP-Link's solution offers something extra with its three ethernet ports and power pass-through.
TP-Link tells us its new adapters will sell for $115 per two-pack, and they should be available for purchase at its online store today. The company also told us it would send us a kit for real-word benchmarking, so look for our hands-on review in the next week or so.