The Linksys PLK300 powerline networking kit provides reliable high-definition video streaming with sustained throughput of approximately 60mbps. It provides a convenient, plug-and-play way to hook up home theatres without running ethernet wiring all over the place or putting undue strain on your Wi-Fi network.

Plug one Linksys PLK300 adaptor into a wall outlet and into an ethernet port on your router, and plug the second adaptor into another outlet in a remote location. A few seconds later, after the two devices recognise each other, you have a functioning network.

The Linksys PLK300's remote adaptor contains four ethernet ports, so you can connect multiple living-room devices such as game consoles, DVRs, Blu-ray players, and streaming-media boxes. Although these devices will share the powerline network's bandwidth, you'll rarely use more than one or two of them at a time.

Unfortunately, Linksys made some choices that reduce the Linksys PLK300 kit's usefulness somewhat. First, it only comes in a desktop design, meaning you'll have to find a place to put the adaptors. Most powerline adaptors just sit in your wall outlets.

Second, Linksys omitted the colour-coded connection-quality indicator lights that most other HomePlug AV kits have. Instead, a single blue colour indicates that a connection (good or bad) exists. Linksys representatives said that they adopted this blue-light special to simplify the product.

And since the network's bandwidth is divided among the adaptor's four ports, the reps said, a green light (indicating that the adaptor had a good connection) might be misleading, since a specific port might not be getting good throughput despite the positive signal.

Nevertheless, the red/amber/green link-rate indicator in the other kits offers a clear indication when one outlet is better than another (powerline networks may not work well if your circuitry is old or compromised).

Linksys again cited simplification as its motivation for failing to include a software utility. Most users won't need such a utility, but it can come in handy for tasks like updating firmware and setting quality-of-service priorities.


Overall, the Linksys PLK300 kit is easy to install and performs very well, but its dumbed-down design decisions hurt its standing.