Friday, January 14, 2011

How I solved my TiVo Series 3 HD Wi-Fi problems using 200 mbps Alfa Networks AHPE303 Powerline Ethernet bridges

Have you ever heard about a best-selling author who writes book after book on marriage advice, and then ends up getting a divorce? I have worked in wireless networking for the last decade, and I have to confess, my TiVo made me feel like that guy. How could I work with wireless products every day and yet sit there and watch my TiVo stream movies using a Netgear USB stick (one of few with which it was compatible) at a 22% signal? The speed was so slow, I probably could have driven across town and rented the movie before enough data downloaded for me to be able to watch without pauses.


Like many in my position though, I became complacent. The Netgear stick was 54 mbps, and at the time, TiVo had no compatible 802.11n products. There was no way for me to add any type of an external antenna to the Netgear stick. Sure, I could have bought a repeater, but that’s another box that would have had to sit somewhere in between, taking up space and appearing out of place- and I have also read about others in similar situations who had tried repeaters with out much signal boost. Finally one day I upgraded my TiVo, and upon finding out the Tivo Series 3 HD box I bought was not compatible with my Netgear stick, I was forced into action. Out of my comfort zone, I went to the store and bought a new-to-market TiVo Wireless-N adapter. Pricey at $89.99, but it was 802.11n, and promised faster connection speeds. It did improve my connection some, but because my living room was so far from where my wireless router was, and I have a lot of interference where I lived, my speeds were still slow. And like the Netgear stick, I could not attach an external antenna to the Tivo-N adapter.

I had read about powerline Ethernet bridges a few years back, so I picked up two Linksys models from eBay and gave them a spin. They worked, but the max transfer speed was 14 mbps, just a hair above the old 802.11b Wi-Fi standard. Back into complacency I fell. The Linksys bridges were better than the old Netgear stick which was not compatible with my new TiVo box anyway, and they had cost a lot less than the TiVo-N adapter. Youtube speeds were acceptable, I would just live with what I had.

Then Alfa Networks introduced AHPE303 powerline Ethernet bridges capable of 200 mbps max transfer speeds. I didn’t even know 200 mbps powerline bridges existed, so I looked up the prices online and found the big box brand names were very expensive, like always. I got my sample set of AHPE303 from Alfa, hooked them up in my home, and was finally able to do exactly what I wanted with my Tivo. I could download movies from Amazon, and download them fast. I could stream Youtube videos- one after the other- without buffering pauses and networks lags. It is times like these that make me glad I work for a company that is an authorized distributor for Alfa Networks. I also like the fact that these Alfa bridges cost less new than their competitor’s refurbished ones!


If you have Ethernet-enabled devices in your home like a TiVo, Blu-Ray player, or even an Ethernet-enabled TV, Alfa’s 200 mbps will most likely be the fastest and easiest way for you to get them hooked up to your home network. The devices are truly plug and play and will work with any device that has an Ethernet port- even gaming consoles!

The bridges work with more than just DVRs and game consoles though, they work with computers as well. And because you don’t have to worry about interference and obstacles like you do with Wi-Fi, you can get fast speeds on all of your Mac and PC computers with zero driver installation!


R.D. said...

it is a good idea for DVRs, but won't you still be limited to 100 mbps due to the ethernet port limitations on both the router and DVR?

Rokland LLC said...

Yes, full 200 mbps capability will require gigabit Ethernet ports on each end. When used with normal 100mbps Ethernet ports, the throughput may still often be better than the TiVo-N adapter though, because even though the TiVo-N adapter is 300 mbps max, it too is limited to the max speed of the Ethernet port, but also subject to slower connection rates because of obstacles and interference since it is a Wi-Fi product. With powerline Ethernet bridges, obstacles and invisible interference do not factor.

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