Netgear XAVB1004 – High Speed Home Theater Internet Connectivity without the hassle!
I’ve had more than one person ask me recently about the best way to get connectivity to their Home Theater without running cables “down the hall” as one friend put it in his post on our forums. Considering that every single component I have in my Home Theater has an Ethernet port, it’s obvious that having connectivity is becoming essential. Even if you don’t have a Home Theater PC (HTPC) or Windows Home Server (WHS) in the vicinity of your Home Theater, there are still plenty of reasons to have your remaining devices accessible to the internet. As a very minimum requirement, most of the peripherals receive regular firmware updates directly from the Internet. My Samsung BD-P1600 will connect to my Netflix, Blockbuster, and Pandora as well as the connectivity needed for the PS3 and all of its games and applications.
The point is that today’s Home Theater setup, no matter how minimalistic it might be, can really benefit by having network connectivity. So the question arises…
“What is the best way to get Internet and LAN connectivity to my Home Theater?”
So as things often seem to work out, I happened to chance upon a guy named Eric doing product demos at Fry’s Electronics between shows and got to talking to him about the product he was presenting. Eric happens to work in the Marketing Department of Netgear and the nifty little unit he was doing a demo on this particular day was Netgear’s Home Theater Internet Connection Kit. We spoke for a few and he was kind enough to send me home with a unit to evaluate for this article! Hey…it’s my first official product demo, I felt pretty dang cool! 😉
So anyways, what you get with the Netgear Home Theater Internet Connection Kit (XAVB1004) is a complete kit that will actually use your existing electrical outlets and wiring (called powerline networking) to give you the connectivity you need. Yes, that’s right, for about $140, you can literally turn any electrical outlet into a High-Speed Home Network Connection!
While there are a number of companies using power-line technology these days, Netgear has really set itself apart with this particular kit. The most alluring difference is the XAVB1004’s ability to connect 4 devices. With this one device, you now can obtain connectivity for the majority (if not all) of your Home Theater equipment including your HDTV, Blu-ray player, a game console, and a HTPC or whichever other device you choose, including TiVo and Slingbox! The Ethernet ports on the 4-port Powerline AV 200 Adapter have built in Quality of Service (QoS) priorities:
- Port 1 has HIGH priority and gives uninterrupted service to the connected device. Devices connected to this port would include Media Servers, Storage Devices (NAS solutions), Gaming consoles, video players, and internet telephones.
- Port 2 has MEDIUM priority. Gaming consoles, video players, or internet telephones are still a good choice here.
- Ports 3 and 4 have LOW priority and are best for networking data devices such as printers.
You could always use one of the ports to connect another small 4 or 5 port Netgear switch and you’ll have plenty of ports for use in case you have more than one game console (PS3, Xbox, Wii or all 3!) or if you happen to keep your Media Server (Windows Home Server / FreeNAS / etc.) tucked in the corner.
On top of the QoS, here’s a breakdown of the XAVB1004’s other included features:
- Delivers fast 200 Mbps speed, fast enough to stream HD video
- For use with both wired and wireless routers and gateways
- Red, yellow, green status LEDs indicate maximum data rate
- 128-bit AES data encryption ensures privacy and security, secure your Powerline AV network by just pushing a button
- Supports Windows® Vista
- HomePlug AV compatible
In my evaluation of this product. I discovered 2 things very quickly:
- It is insanely easy to set up and get up and running! Once it was all connected (taking literally 5 minutes), I found that the laptop I used to test it on had full access to not only the internet, but could see all of Local Area Network (LAN) resources like my Windows 7 Homegroup, Windows shares, and the Windows Home Server media via Windows Media Center.
- It is seriously fast! I think this is what blew me away the most; I never expected to see speeds like that going through my power lines!
If you find yourself wanting Internet and / or LAN connectivity out to your Home Theater (or any other area of your home) and don’t feel like running cable along the baseboards, through the attic, or even worse…in the crawlspace under the house for the purpose of gaining Gig speeds throughout your home, then the Netgear Home Theater Internet Connection Kit is without a doubt an awesome choice!
So how about it? Anyone else with experience with this or another powerline product? We’d love to hear from you and learn what YOU did to get data connectivity to the far reaches of your home! Tell us about your experiences here, or even better yet in the Forums! This community depends on you, or readers, to thrive!