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Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit
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Author:  Lawrence Lee [ Sun Jan 15, 2012 9:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

http://www.silentpcreview.com/wd-livewire/

Author:  cloneman [ Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

I wonder what the jitter is like, and weather its affected by revving up a power tool on the same electrical breaker :D

Author:  CA_Steve [ Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

Thanks for the review. I can't tell from the setup notes - were the tests done with the base unit and adapter on the same breaker circuit or on separate circuits? I understand there can be significant degradation if the signal has to pass through the breaker box.

My concern with Powerline is you can't put the units behind a surge suppressor.
- So, no UPS for this part of your network. Granted, not a huge deal.
- WD really doesn't state whether or not there is any surge protection built-in. If not done well, you could also have a surge path via the ethernet switch side to your connected devices.

Author:  MikeC [ Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

CA_Steve wrote:
Thanks for the review. I can't tell from the setup notes - were the tests done with the base unit and adapter on the same breaker circuit or on separate circuits? I understand there can be significant degradation if the signal has to pass through the breaker box.

Both. The third graph with "(diff. lines)" in the header shows the results on separate circuits. Not that much difference, though it is definitely slower than on the same circuit.
Quote:
My concern with Powerline is you can't put the units behind a surge suppressor.

Our results suggest that although there is a performance hit, it's not that bad unless you share the suppressor with a bunch of other devices on separate AC lines, at which point the performance drops to a little better than wireless G, marginal for HD video. The power bars we used are fairly basic, but they all claim some level of surge protection. Probably worth trying it with your particular surge suppressor(s) in your particular AC outlets.

Author:  Devonavar [ Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

I'd be curious to know how other devices are affected on the power grid, and how far the signal goes in the electrical mains. High frequency noise in the mains must have an effect on other devices - perhaps power factor would suffer? Would HF noise in the mains show up as ripple or impaired voltage regulation downstream of other DC adaptors?

The comments about being more secure than WiFi are true by virtue of the fact that there's a lot more wardrivers than people going around searching for HomePlug AV networks, but in principle it should be possible to get access to the network upstream of your breaker box as well.

I'd also be curious to know how much it affects the rest of the power grid - will the electrical company come calling? I'd assume that electrical wiring attenuates the high frequency signals pretty quickly, so maybe that's no a concern, but I'm still curious.

Author:  MikeC [ Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

Devon --

Your questions are interesting but probably beyond our ability to answer adequately. I suppose a simple thing is to tap the same AC line with an oscilloscope and check what happens when the Livewire is actually sending signal. In any case, it may be worth firing an email or posting on the forum at https://www.homeplug.org/home/

Given all the electronics most people have running on their AC systems though, I doubt the Powerline AV adds much more crud than already exists.

FYI, no odd effects were noticed on any other electronic gear while the Livewire switches were being used or tested. And you know very well just how much gear there is plugged in & running all the time around here!

Author:  Devonavar [ Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

Yes, I suppose given the existing level of pollution, it's amazing the system works at all.

Author:  MikeC [ Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

FYI... AV2 is coming. From the HomePlug Powerline Alliance web site:

Quote:
The HomePlug AV2 specification is scheduled for completion in Q3 2011 and will deliver a 5X performance gain over HomePlug AV as well as improved whole home coverage. AV2 is designed to reliably deliver multiple streams of HD video throughout the home as well as next generation low latency content such as 3D and 4K HD video. AV2 has the bandwidth to handle any foreseeable application for the coming years while maintaining full interoperability with the installed base of HomePlug AV products already in service. HomePlug AV2 is also fully interoperable with HomePlug Green PHY and the new IEEE 1901 powerline standard.

HomePlug AV2 was designed to support the high-bandwidth and low-latency demands of several simultaneous streams of HDTV and VoIP, made concurrently available in over 100 percent of power outlets in a home. HomePlug AV2 provides a 1Gbps class service at the PHY (physical) layer. After overhead considerations, the MAC layer supports over 500Mbps.

HomePlug AV2 chipsets are expected to start shipping in 2012 with commercial products becoming available shortly after that.

Author:  Luke M [ Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

Devonavar wrote:
The comments about being more secure than WiFi are true by virtue of the fact that there's a lot more wardrivers than people going around searching for HomePlug AV networks, but in principle it should be possible to get access to the network upstream of your breaker box as well.

I'd also be curious to know how much it affects the rest of the power grid - will the electrical company come calling? I'd assume that electrical wiring attenuates the high frequency signals pretty quickly, so maybe that's no a concern, but I'm still curious.


The signal is filtered out by transformers, so it doesn't get far. If you are not sharing a transformer with anyone, there's no privacy issue.

Author:  Devonavar [ Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

Thanks. I was wondering whether there was anything like that built into the grid, and now I know.

Author:  CA_Steve [ Mon Jan 16, 2012 3:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

Luke M wrote:
The signal is filtered out by transformers, so it doesn't get far. If you are not sharing a transformer with anyone, there's no privacy issue.


Around here, you'll see 4+ homes per transformer. However, I can imagine there is tremendous attenuation over the wire length. That said, instead of a wardriver, just be a warsquatter with an extension cord plugged into an outside wall socket. :)

Author:  Das_Saunamies [ Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

CA_Steve wrote:
My concern with Powerline is you can't put the units behind a surge suppressor.
- So, no UPS for this part of your network. Granted, not a huge deal.
- WD really doesn't state whether or not there is any surge protection built-in. If not done well, you could also have a surge path via the ethernet switch side to your connected devices.

Some UPS' actually support this kind of gear. My Eaton Protection Station has a "PLC ready" socket. I haven't been able to test how well it works, as I got rid of my powerline gear before I bought the UPS. What I did test, however, matches pretty much 1:1 with the SPCR review (mine was on the Finnish grid, 230 V, in two different homes, one rural one urban).

Thanks for the review, this one was a nice bonus. Powerline networking would be such a convenient way of avoiding clutter, but the speeds so far are not really suitable for NAS use - or even broadband, as 100 Mbps is the kind of speed I go for now. Hopefully AV2 will have a fighting chance!

Author:  nutball [ Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

Das_Saunamies wrote:
Powerline networking would be such a convenient way of avoiding clutter, but the speeds so far are not really suitable for NAS use - or even broadband, as 100 Mbps is the kind of speed I go for now. Hopefully AV2 will have a fighting chance!


It's really very situation dependent, in my view. Where I am (I can get 100Mb/s if I wanted it) I can attach my NAS to the same gigabit switch as my broadband router. All of my HTPC clients can cope with the bandwidth they can get over powerline from the NAS for video streaming and such forth. Wifi sorts out the rest (laptops basically).

If you're doing real stuff over the network (ie. not just media streaming) I can see how powerline isn't satisfactory. Otherwise, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it.

Author:  MikeC [ Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

One very likely application not mentioned in the review is to connect TVs to the Internet. Most homes already have broadband and a network switch, but not necessarily where the TV resides. Wifi is most likely not quite reliable and steady enough to watch web video on TV, while powerline AV at least exceeds broadband web speeds (say 20 mbps) with a modicum of care, which makes it good enough to stream HD video (say 720p) smoothly off the web.

Author:  Das_Saunamies [ Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

nutball wrote:
If you're doing real stuff over the network (ie. not just media streaming) I can see how powerline isn't satisfactory. Otherwise, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it.


That was exactly my problem with it. It just couldn't (and still can't, it seems) cope with big backups or file transfers (40-50 Mbps vs steady 150 Mbps makes a big difference when moving GBs or even TBs of stuff), which is what I mostly use the NAS and home network for besides the usual surfing and such. All my media content is local, thanks to formerly-cheap HDDs, so streaming's not really on the menu. I can see how powerline might be convenient for that, but if I had an HTPC, I'd just make it my file server as well and all content would be local again. Also, paying for a 110 Mbps connection and getting 35 Mbps can really piss one off, and at these prices I have no reason to go any lower as an active user (you're really paying for the upstream, for which 110M down is the first good bump up, 110/5 vs 40/2).

What it did give me though was silence: I could move the at-times noisy NAS into the wardrobe in the entrance hall. The router I keep near the cable modem's wall socket for convenience's sake, and that's the living room/workspace.

PS. Good point about the TVs (and probably player docks and streaming radios). To add to that, I'm sure we'll see more devices support online connectivity sooner or later, at which point networking a home becomes a real challenge.

Author:  wayner [ Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

I think the main message here is Your Mileage May Vary. I have run ethernet to most, but not all of my house. Part of my house was built in the 1950s but there was a 1992 addition and it isn't easy to run ethernet to this part of the house. So I tried two different brands of powerline networking a few years ago and I couldn't get sustained bitrates at 19 Mbps which is required for transmitting HD video from OTA stations from my SageTV server to my SageTV extenders. This may have been complicated by the fact that two powerline networking adapters were not on the same line and they were even on different "vintages" or electrical wiring - the original part of the house and the newer part.

I ended up buying some Motorola NIM-100 MOCA adapters on eBay instead and they give me 40Mbps+. This is another good solution to consider when you can't run ethernet to some or all of your house.

Author:  Lensman [ Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

Quote:
I ended up buying some Motorola NIM-100 MOCA adapters on eBay instead and they give me 40Mbps+. This is another good solution to consider when you can't run ethernet to some or all of your house.

This is what I did and it worked out well. Again, I specifically needed the line for my Tivo and I plan to put some kind of movie player for my movie collection - some Plex client device or XBMC as examples.

One point of information: the Motorola NIM-100 draws 18 watts. What does the WD powerline unit draw?

Author:  vortex222 [ Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

what is the performance of two devices connected to each other on the same end, Is it comparable to a gigabit switch?

I would be happy with its performance over AC to my HTPC, but can it replace my GB switch i have under my desk to connect my NAS, Gaming rig and Router together?

Author:  Das_Saunamies [ Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

vortex222 wrote:
what is the performance of two devices connected to each other on the same end, Is it comparable to a gigabit switch?

I would be happy with its performance over AC to my HTPC, but can it replace my GB switch i have under my desk to connect my NAS, Gaming rig and Router together?


Judging by the review, even the best case scenario was less than half of what I get with a wireless router's Gbit switch and a mediocre NAS (2009 D-Link DIR-825 to 2010 Buffalo LinkStation Pro). So bandwidth nowhere near a Gbit system, and I can say from experience this may become painfully apparent if you have big regular transfers like system backups.

As has been previously discussed though, powerline is more than enough for a HTPC to stream content, and I didn't find it detrimental to my gaming when the line quality was good (no power strips), so it could make for a nice clutter reduction, provided that you have the sockets.

Author:  vortex222 [ Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

Das_Saunamies wrote:
vortex222 wrote:
what is the performance of two devices connected to each other on the same end, Is it comparable to a gigabit switch?

I would be happy with its performance over AC to my HTPC, but can it replace my GB switch i have under my desk to connect my NAS, Gaming rig and Router together?


Judging by the review, even the best case scenario was less than half of what I get with a wireless router's Gbit switch and a mediocre NAS (2009 D-Link DIR-825 to 2010 Buffalo LinkStation Pro). So bandwidth nowhere near a Gbit system, and I can say from experience this may become painfully apparent if you have big regular transfers like system backups.


ATM the transfer speed to my NAS is roughly 115mB/s with my mediocre swich and homemade NAS (windows raid5 based) to my windows 7 box (4 gig file takes ~50 seconds). As each end of this powerline has 4 ports it looks promising but if it cuts my network trasfer to my 2 computers sitting side by side in half, then that is rather lousy. I would still need to keep my swich. Are you able to test that out mike?

Author:  MikeC [ Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

The review made it celar, I thought, that there's no way it can replace a gigabit network.

Author:  vortex222 [ Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

It shows performance between the two adapters and how there effected by different electrical configurations, but what i couldn't find, was the performance between to ports on the same adapter. Each adaptor has 4 ports does it not?

Unless im truely that dense today (it has happened many times), The review only shows performance of data traveling across AC lines. Not how the adaptors built in 4 port switch could perform locally.

Author:  Das_Saunamies [ Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

vortex222 wrote:
It shows performance between the two adapters and how there effected by different electrical configurations, but what i couldn't find, was the performance between to ports on the same adapter. Each adaptor has 4 ports does it not?

Unless im truely that dense today (it has happened many times), The review only shows performance of data traveling across AC lines. Not how the adaptors built in 4 port switch could perform locally.


Ohhhh... seems your wording mislead myself at least.

The device's capabilities are probably 100 Mbit/Fast Ethernet since the specs say the device is "IEEE 802.3u compliant". Check it out on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.3. So no way is it going to beat a Gbit link even on the same adapter. If it was Gbit or could compete with such devices, I'm sure WD would not have failed to advertise that. :wink:

Author:  xan_user [ Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

i cant see WD putting giga switch in a device thats designed to operate at under 100... adding extra bells and whistles, that 99% of consumers arnt going to use just isnt WD's style. -besides it would only confuse most users...customer says to WD CS "But it says giga switch on the box, how come i only get 30Mbps?"

Author:  koitsu [ Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Western Digital Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

Might I recommend SPCR review the Zyxel PLA-407 powerline adapters? Supposedly these things perform amazingly well (way better than the WD product), and the latency is much lower / consistent too (something like 1-2ms), with no packet loss.

There's a review of this product over on the DSLR/BBR forum, except their site has been down all week due to catastrophic database crash as a result of power failure within their co-lo provider's datacenter, otherwise I'd point you to it. Google does have a text-only cached copy of it, though it's hard to read.

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