Rolling in at about £100 (around $160), D-Link provides a surprisingly affordable entry into the 500Mbps market, with this its DHP-501AV Powerline AV 500 Network Starter Kit. Inside the formidably large box you'll find a pair of stylish powerline adaptors, as well as a pair of cables to connect the units to your machines, a simple manual and a set up CD that isn't really needed for day-to-day operations.

The units themselves are large, but they do counter this with some nice design choices that elevate them above the usual boxy looks of the competition. The fact that the bulk of the unit drops below the socket means that there's plenty of room for the power socket on/off switches.

Another neat touch on the design front is that the Ethernet port is on the right-hand side of the unit, which makes it slightly more accessible that the usual bottom placement. This does infer that you should use the right-hand socket of a double wall plug, though - otherwise you could hit problems trying to squeeze it next to another large device.

For a unit that is so beautifully designed and so perfectly crafted for the style-conscious tech aficionado, it seems insane that D-Link felt the need to bundle bright blue CAT-5 cabling. And given the side mounting of the ports, it's hardly as if they're easy to hide. This isn't a deal breaker, but it's still an odd decision in an otherwise carefully crafted device.

While we're on the subject of strange design choices, the fact that the DHP-501AV only boasts a 100Mbps Ethernet port as opposed to a gigabit interface is a strange decision, especially for something that claims to be able to handle transfer speeds up to 500Mbps. Although in a real world situation this won't be a limiting factor for most, it's still a strange limitation.

In real world testing this speed limit didn't affect our main test, where the powerline adaptors are used to connect between floors and rooms. Here the D-Link DHP-501AV managed a solid, if uninspiring set of performance figures, averaging a cross-network read speed of 64Mbps, although the write speeds were notably lower at 51Mbps, which makes it much slower than other rivals in certain operations.

Verdict

Despite some bizarre design choices, the D-Link DHP-501AV makes for a striking and affordable entry to 500Mbps powerline networking. These aren't the fastest adaptors you can buy, but they are consistent, which can be just as important when you're delivering HD video around your house.