D-Link DHP-303

Review

posted 4/7/2010 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
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For my test, I utilized my laptop which has a network meter that gives me both the speed at which uploads and downloads are happening as well as a graph that shows in a length of time what speed it currently was. I decided to copy a 500MB file back and forth measuring the time as well as seeing how well the connection held up. I also had a test of a daughter unit where it was plugged into the same outlet as a 46" LCD projection TV and a Windows 7 Media Center PC. I'll go into how each fared in a little bit.

My first test had the child unit being plugged in on the same floor but on a different circuit. Once I plugged the DHP-303 unit into the outlet, it only took a few seconds for it to find the master unit and establish a new work connection. Let's start with my wireless-N connection and use that as the baseline.

When copying the 500MB file to one of my servers using wireless-N, my connection did some fluctuations of 30Mbps to 38Mbps. I did notice my connection dropping down to the lower teens as well making for an inconsistent connection. After three trials, the average time it took to copy the file was 1.35 minutes with my network graph have various lows throughout the copy procedure.

I then turned off my wireless and plugged the CAT5 cable from the DHP-303 into my laptop. Initiating the copy procedure, I stayed at a steady rate of 35Mbps with slight fluctuations of 2MBps on either side. Copying took around the same time at 1.39 minutes average but my graph was a pretty steady horizontal line throughout the process, unlike using wireless. Just from this first test, I surmised that for streaming content, it would offer a solid connection thus minimizing or eliminating any buffering or slowdown issues provided the content didn't exceed the bandwidth available.
Streaming HD content from my Windows 7 Media Center PC to my Xbox 360 via extender, I watched an HD broadcast from one of the clear QAM channels being captured by a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250. I checked the amount of data being sent from the PC and it was about 20Mbps which was easily within the range I was getting using the DHP-303. It was close to maxing out the connection though so having anything else use that line was probably going to be a no go. On my Xbox 360, I enjoyed smooth HD playback from a local station and was very happy with the results. Using a wireless solution before, I would run into some stutters here and there. The DHP-303 eliminated this issue with a more consistent connection.

Now, my one setup with the 48" LCD TV and 360 had no effect whatsoever with the performance. With the master unit plugged in and my laptop plugged into it, the transfer time and speed were pretty much the same whether anything was on or off. The same couldn't be said though for my 46" LCD projection and Windows 7 Media Center PC using a slave unit. I would see frequent drops to below 3Mbps and the speed LED on the front would constantly flash red. I moved the power strip to another outlet on the other side of the room while keeping the slave unit plugged in and it seemed to solve the speed issue. And no, I did not have the slave unit plugged into the power strip, which I highly do not recommend doing.

Also, different outlets can sometimes produce different results as well. With the master unit plugged into the interior most outlet in my house, I tried a few areas around to see how the speeds were. Most gave me the same 30-35Mbps speed but a few of the outlets in the outer part of my house went to below 20Mbps and some went below 6Mbps as well. So, it might take you some trial and error to find an outlet that works for you and all of this is going to be dependent as well on how well the wiring in your house is. My house was built in the mid-70s for your reference so it's not a new house at all.

While it's nowhere near the advertised speeds, the DHP-303 solidified the connection of my upstairs Media Center to the rest of my network. It's eliminated the drop outs and streaming issues I had when using my wireless N card. In my testing, streaming HD content took up most of the bandwidth with little to spare. Setup was very painless and easy to do but it took a few tries to find a good outlet to use. I would've liked to have seen about another 30-50% more in speed but for some you might just take the steady stream over a wireless connection that can be a little flaky. So far though, I've been pretty happy with how it's held up and would recommend this set to those looking to get a network connection in areas that may be hard to.


B-
It doesn't work at nearly the speeds advertised but it can help give you a solid connection to hard to reach areas. My setup ran fast enough to stream HD from my media center to my Xbox 360 as well as play online games without any issues. Setup was pretty easy as well.


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