WD Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

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WD Livewire Powerline Networking Kit

January 15, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Western Digital Livewire
Powerline AV Network Kit
Western Digital
Street Price

The WD Livewire is a powerline networking kit based on the HomePlug AV standard, allowing users to connect devices via the electrical grid within a building. Powerline kits have been around for awhile, but are now more popular than ever due to the ever increasing number of network capable devices popping up in homes all over the industrialized world. It's not a revolutionary technology that is going to replace traditional methods, but it does provide an alternative when WiFi or wired ethernet are undesirable or difficult to implement.

Ethernet is a tried and true way to network but older homes, apartment buildings, and condos are not wired, and adding it after the fact is no easy task. Running cable inside existing walls is a nightmare, and having them on the outside is an eyesore. WiFi, despite being almost ubiquitous these days, remains a fickle mistress with issues regarding range, interference, reliability, and security. There has also been an increase in concern over the amount of RF noise produced by wireless routers and various networked enabled devices that are everywhere these days

The box.

Package contents.

The Livewire kit consists of two HomePlug AV adapters which look very familiar to anyone versed in networking technology. They resemble network switches because they effectively are, only they're connected to one another through power outlets rather than a long ethernet cable. They're about the size of a 3.5" desktop hard drive, though not quite as long. Each unit has four connectors, so you can plug in three devices to one (the fourth is used to connect it to the rest of your network) and four devices to the other. The two adapters can be as far as part as desired provided they are on the same electrical grid.

Setup diagram.

Setting up the Livewire is incredibly easy. Connect one unit to either a router or switch already on your network with an ethernet cable and plug in the AC cable. Plug in the other unit in a different location and connect it with ethernet cable to the devices that require network access. There is no configuration to be done, no software required (though there is a utility provided by WD), and network connectivity is almost instant once set up.

Western Digital Livewire: Key Features
(from the product web page)
Feature & Brief
Our Comment
As easy as plugging in a lamp.
Simply plug the adapters into your electrical outlets to create a high-speed network connection anywhere in your home. No tools needed. No holes in your walls.
Essentially plug and play.
The speed you need to
stream HD.
Media-optimized HomePlug AV technology offers up to 200 Mbps* performance for smooth HD video streaming over your network.
200 mbps would be nice, but only a fifth of that is required to stream HD. Blu-ray tops out at 40 mbps.
Multiple secure connections.
A total of 8 ports means you can connect up to 7 devices and your router, all protected with 128-bit encryption.
Ethernet is inherently more secure than WiFi, and the Livewire allows you to segregate devices connected to it on a separate network.
Expand your home network instantly without running wires.
Create high-speed Internet connections anywhere in your home without running wires between rooms. Just use your home's electrical wiring to create a network.
Using the existing power grid is a great alternative to running ethernet cables through the middle of your home, though WiFi is the most common alternative.

Western Digital Livewire: Specifications
(from the product web page)
System Requirements
Ethernet router
AC power outlet
HomePlug AV certified
IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3u compliant
Kit contains
Two 4-port HomePlug AV adapters
Two Ethernet cables
Two power cables
Quick Install Guide
CD with WD Livewire utility software
Warranty and support guide
Dimensions (H x D x W) 1.30 x 4.70 x 3.40 inches
32 x 119 x 86 mm
Weight 0.41 pounds
0.19 kg
Operating Temperature 41° F to 95° F
5° C to 35° C
Non-Operating Temperature -40° F to 149° F
-40° C to 65° C
Electrical Requirements Power Dissipation
AC Input Voltage 100-240 VAC
AC Input Frequency 50-60 Hz

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