Priceonomics

This guest post is by Priceonomics investor Andrew Parker from Spark Capital. His essay is part of the occasional series on our blog called “Products I Love.” If you’d like to write on the Priceonomics blog about an interesting product that you love, contact us.

Products I Love: The Actiontec MegaPlug A/V 200 by Andrew Parker

When reflecting on WiFi, it often feels like magic (Internet, with no wires!). But when actually using Wifi, that magical feeling often quickly fades into a frustrating mess of dropped signals, spotty Skype calls, and Netflix’s interminable Red Loading Bar of Death (maybe not death… maybe just slightly delayed entertainment… but still).

I live in a densely packed apartment building with funky jigsaw puzzle shaped units.  My apartment has two coax outputs, and neither are near the center of the apartment.  Neither location allows for adequate WiFi coverage across my apartment, regardless of the number of antenna tweaks, channel switches, or other firmware panel hacks I employ. I was lamenting about my woeful home internet coverage to a colleague to work, who recommended trying Powerline Ethernet technology, which leverages your home’s existing power wiring as a LAN. 

I was skeptical. I remember when Powerline first emerged in the early part of last decade.  It seemed too good to be true, so I assumed it was. I picked up a used Powerline kit on eBay at my colleague’s prompting (a Actiontec MegaPlug A/V 200).

Setup was a breeze.  Plug one adapter into an electrical outlet near my router and the other one in an outlet near my TV. Connect one adapter to my router and the other one to my television using two Ethernet cables, and I was done.  My TV picked up my internet connection via DHCP with no setup, and there was no firmware setup for the Powerline device itself.

In my highly scientific, double-blind gold standard study (methodology: using Netflix on my TV, switching back and forth between Powerline and Wifi), I can wholeheartedly endorse Powerline.  It fixed all my dropped signal issues. It’s peak speed definitely exceeds the capacity of my cable modem, so it is in no way a bottleneck on my internet, and in 4 months of usage it has never failed to work. The particular model I picked up has 4.5 stars on Amazon, and I think that’s very much reflective of my experience.

So, the magic is back again. But this time, instead of Wifi, my Actiontec MegaPlug A/V 200 is pulling the rabbit out of the hat.

Editor’s note: Thanks to Andrew for contributing! Would you like to write about a product you love on the Priceonomics blog? Drop us a note.



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