Western Digital launches Powerline AV networking kit

Does things a bit differently

WESTERN DIGITAL HAS been trying to branch out into new product areas beyond its storage solutions and have so far managed to do quite well with its media players. Today the company announced yet a new addition to its product line-up, the Livewire Powerline AV network kit.

There are already plenty of powerline networking products on the market and as Western Digital is using standard HomePlug AV technology there’s only so much they can do to differentiate themselves from the competition, but we’d say that they’ve succeeded quite well in doing so. The Livewire kit comes with two base units, a pair of Ethernet cables and two power cables. Most HomePlug AV devices look like a power brick and can end up blocking the adjacent power socket, something that won’t be a problem in this case.

The downside is of course that you end up with a small box on the floor with yet another cable that connects to something. However, unlike any other HomePlug AV solution that we’ve managed to find, WD’s Livewire offers four ports on both ends which allow multiple devices to be connected at both sides. This might be a feature that not everyone needs, but at least it adds some additional flexibility that no other HomePlug AV products offer.

It’s a shame that WD jumped on the HomePlug bandwagon a little bit early, as Gigabit capable HomePlug devices are just starting to appear in the market while the Livewire kit is stuck at 200Mbit. On the other hand this also means that the Livewire kit should be compatible with any other HomePlug AV gear. Unlike Ethernet, but very much like Wi-Fi, the HomePlug AV products aren’t guaranteed to reach the rated speeds as it’s very dependent on the quality of the power lines in your house as well as interference.

With an MSRP of $139.99 the WD Livewire kit is in line with similar products in the market, although with the added benefits of four ports at both ends rather than just at one end. It seems like WD’s idea is to flog you one of its Livewire kits as well as a NAS and a media player to give you a complete solution for streaming video around your house.S|A

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