Getting a network connection to my TV area has always been tricky. Tearing up drywall to install cat5 all over the place wasn’t an option, so I was pretty much stuck with WiFi.

The distance and number of walls between my wireless router upstairs and TV downstairs make it tough to maintain a good strong signal. Even with the Tomato firmware pushing my wireless transmitter strength to its theoretical maximum, it still just wasn’t that great.

My 360’s Media Center network tester always gave pitiful results like this-

I could still play games and stuff, but if I tried to stream my own music over the 360 while playing an online game at the same time, every now and then the music would skip.

I got fed up a while back and looked into networking over power lines. The HomePlug standard seemed like it had good potential and with a max speed of 14Mbps (or 85Mbps with ‘turbo’ hardware) it still had to be better than what I was getting with my wireless connection. I bought two HomePlug adapters from Netgear.

That was better! But not by much.

Then HomePlug AV came along promising speeds up to 200Mbps. I was skeptical. So when I was invited to take part in a beta for Netgear’s first HomePlug AV adapter, the XAV101, I was not expecting much.

I was amazed and surprised to find that HomePlug AV is incredibly awesome in every way, and it works just like you’d expect it to. Finally!

I didn’t bother to run any real speed tests with a laptop, but that graph’s good enough for me.

The beta ended long ago and you can buy the XAV101 NOW. A pair of them (XAVB101) goes for $120 at Amazon. That’s not exactly cheap, but consider the cost of hiring an electrician to come out and run ethernet cables through your walls, then hiring a painter come to patch the holes the electrician made and paint over them. It’s a no-brainer!

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