Do you have a wireless network at home, with one room that just can't seem to allow you to pick up a signal? It can be frustrating for sure!
Or maybe you want to go halvesies with your neighbors on wireless Internet, but they are just out of range of your signal. The Actiontec Wireless Network Extender Plus Powerline Network Adapter 500 Kit allows you to extend the range of your home network, whether wired or Wi-Fi.
Be warned: it will slow performance down significantly thanks to the slow Wi-Fi and Ethernet standards. Simple sharing over the Internet is easy, but if you are sharing large files, you might want to look elsewhere. It is also tough for those who aren't tech savvy to change the default Wi-Fi network to a customized setup. If you aren't concerned too much about performance, this is a great solution at a decent price.
Setup and Design
In the box, you'll find two powerline adapters. The more compact of the two, the PWR500, is a straightforward adapter offering a single LAN port. The second adapter is the WPB3000 model, much bigger than the PWR500 (at least five times its size), featuring two LAN ports and built-in Wi-Fi access point.
Connect the PWR500 to your router via network cable, which is included with the kit. Put the WPB3000 in the far corner of the same room. Once you plug them both in, they will connect to each other using the electrical wiring of your home.
Once they're all set, you can connect two wired devices, such as desktop computers, to the WPB3000, as well as numerous Wi-Fi devices. Just use the included default network login information, printed on a sticker included inside the box. The adapters can be up to 1,000 feet away from each other, which makes it better at extending your Wi-Fi network than what's currently available on the Wi-Fi range extender market.
Because the WPB3000 is large, it will take up valuable electrical outlet real estate – there is no escaping the fact it will block other outlets, making them impossible to use. You'll want to ensure you have ample receptacles in the far corner you intend to plug the WPB3000 into. To work the way it is intended, you will want to avoid plugging either adapter into a power strip. Otherwise they can't instantly connect to each other.
Security and Performance
If you live in an apartment complex, there is the very real possibility someone down the hall could get their own powerline adapter and leach off of your Wi-Fi network, right? Not with these! Each adapter has a security button on it that creates a secure connection between the two. The WPB3000 also supports WPS, allowing you to add a device at the touch of a button instead of entering in the name of the network and associated password.
What if you want to change the name and password of the network? That's going to require much more effort than it took to set it up, that's for sure! While you'll find a support page listed in the Quick Setup guide, there is no information listed detailing how to go about this whatsoever.
Something you might find troubling when using the adapters is the fact that you'll only get about 100Mbps at most of a wireless connection. That's because they support the Home Plug AV 500, which gives about 500Mbps of powerline speed, and they use standard 10/100 Ethernet ports.
They do not support the faster Gigabit Ethernet ports, which would improve their speed. In terms of Wi-Fi, the WPB3000 supports the dual-stream of the standard 802.11n, and works exclusively on the 2.4Ghz frequency band, offering just about 30Mbps of Wi-Fi speed if you're close. If you're further away, decrease that speed significantly.
If you're a home user looking to share small files, this is perfectly fine. However, if you're looking for great performance, you'll want to look elsewhere. Pick the kit up for about $89.99.