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Devolo dLan 650 triple Powerline adapters review - new-generation Powerline tech

Devolo’s new 600Mbps Powerline adapter range – the dLAN 650+ and the dLAN 650 triple+ – use a new technology that uses all three physical lines of the mains circuit for data transmission, rather than the two used by all other Powerline adapters.

Using the patent-pending “Range+” technology the adapters couple the signal onto the Earth wire, as well as the standard Live and Neutral wires used by all Powerline systems. The dLAN 650+ and the dLAN 650 triple+ then determine which two of the three lines will provide the best data transmission rate.

Powerline adapters use existing power cables in a building to quickly and simply create a fast home network. Now read our “Best Powerline adapters 2014” group test.

Set up is simplicity itself. Just plug the base adapter into a power socket near your Internet router, and connect to that using one of the supplied Ethernet cables. Then plug the other adapter in the room you want the fast wired connections – most probably the living room, den or office – and connect your TV (if its has an Ethernet port), Sky+, Tivo, games console, or other PC.

You can also download Devolo's Cockpit software, which allows you to monitor speed and keep the adapters' firware up to date, but this isn't necessary if you don't want to.

We were big fans of the Devolo dLAN 500AV Wireless+, which we liked not only for its speeds but its three Ethernet ports and Pass-Through power socket. Although they were not the fastest Powerline adapters we tested they performed well enough for most domestic uses.

The new dLAN 650 triple+ also features the three Ethernet ports, meaning this adapter will be especially useful if you want to hardwire more than one Ethernet-enabled device such as a TV, games console or Sky+ box.

The dLAN 650+ has just the one Gigabit port. Other than the number of Ethernet ports on the second adapter the 650+ and 650 triple+ are the same.

The Pass-Through socket on the front of the adapters means you don’t lose a power socket in either room, and may even improve performance over adapters that lack such a feature as there is less interfering electrical "noise" if you use the shielded pass-through socket than if you plug a dvice or extenstion cabble into the socket next to it.

An integrated mains filter further optimises data transmission by eliminating interference on the network.

Devolo has kept the three ports and upgraded them to Gigabit Ethernet to improve speeds further.

The adapters also use the latest powerful Powerline chips that push theorectical maximum speeds to 600Mbps.

Gigabit Ethernet and 600Mbps chips plus the “Range+” trick of using all three wires in your home’s power cables should all boost the speed seen on the company’s previous and other manufacturers’ Powerline products, although Solwise claims similar specifications and technologies on its Solwise 600AV2 HomePlug Adapter.

Most other Powerline adapters use one or other of the Live or Neutral wires in the home's powerlines. Range+ goes one further, and checks out the Earth wire, too, to see if using that is faster.

This potential use of the Earth wire is where Devolo gets the extra '50' from in its 650 names. It's a bit cheeky but if the performance is better then it isn't entirely unwarranted.

Powerline adapters previously came in two speed types: 200Mbps and 500Mbps. Devolo and Solwise are now using chips that push the maximum speed to 600Mbps.

While the manufacturers claim such speeds it must be noted that these are theoretical only. In reality you’ll be lucky to get near 100Mbps using the adapters in more than one room, which of course is the whole point of Powerline.

The reality of home powerlines mean speeds are held back by a multitude of real-world problems, such as the age of your power cables, distance between adaptors, “electrical noise”, mains fluctuations, interference from other devices such as phone chargers, and circuit breakers. Read more about Powerline speed myths in our feature What is Powerline?.

That said, the 500Mbps Powerline adapters will be noticeably faster than the older 200Mbps models, and 600Mbps should be faster yet – see test results below.

And all three will be faster than relying on your home’s standard Wi-Fi, which may be up to three times slower than Powerline.

We tested the Devolo dLAN 650 triple+ adapters in a Victorian house with fairly old wiring and the usual array of electronic devices (TV, Sky+, Hi-Fi, lamps, microwave, computers, etc) plugged into the power lines.

In out first test we see how fast we can get the Powerline adapters running in a setup where the two adapters sit next to each other in the same room. This isn't a very realistic scenario but it does test the adapters' best-case performance.

The Devolo dLan 650 triple+ we tested certainly lived up to expectations in this test, scoring an impressive 178Mbps – the fastest we've seen of any Powerline we've tested. It was 15 percent faster than the Solwise 600AV2, which uses very similar technologies.

Our other test the Internet router was situated in the office on the second floor, and we used Powerline to test data speed on the ground floor.

In this more real-world test the results weren't as impressive but were still very close to our previous fastest Powerline adapter, the TrendNet Powerline 500AV2 Adapter Kit. The dLAN 650 triple+ scored a speed of 69Mbps, just 3% slower than the TrendNet adapters that reached 71Mbps. The Solwise adapters' 58Mbps was roundly beaten.

We were expecting a faster real-world test but it could be that the test house maxes out around that top speed. If your house was built more recently you may well achieve faster speeds than we did, but we use this house to get consistent speeds for a proper Powerline comparison. We tested over 20 times at different times of the day, and the average was 69Mbps. The fastest single result was 75Mbps.

Some Powerline adapters boast a wireless feature that creates a new Wi-Fi hotspot in the room with the second Powerline adapter in. Neither the dLAN 650+ nor 650 triple+ feature Wi-Fi, which is featured on the Devolo dLAN 500AV Wireless+ we tested previously.

While Devolo expects a Wi-Fi version in the future we were disappointed to see this missed off the initial models. WIth Wi-Fi the 650 triple+ would have been a knockout.

Powerline adapters that include Wi-Fi can be a real boost in a house where the Wi-Fi signal weakens the further away you are from your wireless router – ie. most houses.

While the Powerline adapters massively boost wired Ethernet connections for TVs, games consoles, and DVRs such as Sky+, you are still having to use the weaker Wi-Fi signal on your smartphone or tablet, and likely your laptop unless you want to be always tethered by Ethernet.

Powerlines with wireless functionality create a new Wi-Fi hotspot in the second – or third – room, often doubling wireless speeds there.

We look forward to wireless versions of the dLAN 650+ and 650 triple+ adapters, and it's this current lack of extra Wi-Fi that holds back a more impressive score for these products, especially at the price. Despite the speed gains of the 650 models we still prefer the Devolo dLAN 500AV Wireless+ for its added Wi-Fi functionality.

Devolo, however, does claim that the new Powerline chips are more energy efficient than previous generations. The dLAN 650+ consumes only 3.9 watts during operation, while the dLAN 650 triple+ uses 4.4 watts.

When connected network devices are switched off, both adapters automatically go into standby mode and use only 0.7 watts. This energy-saving chip also aids the adapters’ slim design, as the little heat generated has allowed for the cooling slits to be removed.

The dLAN 650+ Starter Kit (with two adapters, each having one Gigabit Ethernet port) is priced at £109.99, with extra single (one-port) adapters available at £59.99.

The three Gigabit Ethernet port 650 triple+ Starter Kits (one adapter has three Gigabit Ethernet ports, the other just one to use as the base unit with the router) is available for £119.99 and extra single (three-port) adapters cost £69.99. For the additional £10 the 650 triple+ seems a worthwhile investment over the single-port 650+.

Each comes with a welcome three-year warranty.


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