The Trendnet TPL-401E is one of the latest editions to Trendnet's extensive powerline range, boasting support for the latest 500Mbps connection standard. These are the more basic offerings in the range, with each unit offering a single gigabit connection.
Other options are available, including the four-port Trendnet TPL-405E and the TPL-402E2K starter kit, which contains a pair of units that have electrical pass though, so that you don't lose your plug socket.
Trendnet supplied two single TPL-401Es for testing, as opposed to the starter twin pack, the TPL-401E2K, which is slightly cheaper than buying the units separately. Even separately, these aren't exactly what you'd consider too expensive, and the single units at £67.99 in the UK or $89.99 in the US mean that extending your network is reasonable.
The units are large, and extend a considerable way below the baseline of the power socket. These do look a little budget in comparison to some of the newer compact units that have started to appear, such as Devolo's tiny dLAN 500 AVmini, but the styling is fairly unobtrusive once installed.
The bulky design can make it tricky to hit the power socket on/off switch, although not to the same extent as the bulky Cisco Linksys PLSK400 four-port units.
The base of the unit is home to the single gigabit Ethernet port, where you can also find a reset button and a syncing button for setting up a secure network. The front of the Trendnet TPL-401E is home to three diagnostic LEDs, which show whether the unit is drawing power and the state of the Ethernet connection and the powerline network. These are useful if you're experiencing problems.
On the performance front, we were pleasantly surprised by the peak transfer rates, although continued testing did produce some surprisingly slow figures at times as well.
At their best, the Trendnet TPL-401E units managed a headline read speed of 71Mbps, although they also managed an unimpressive 40Mbps at times as well, with no notable changes to the load on the circuit (such as devices being turned on). Overall though, the units averaged performance of 62Mbps when copying files from one machine to another.
Overall, the Trendnet TPL-401E is a solid, if somewhat uninspiring addition to the powerline networking party. The units aren't the prettiest available, and we'd personally prefer something a little more discreet looking, but they do count where it matters - in the performance and value for money stakes.