Tag Archives: aztech

Aztech Homeplug HL115EP

I’ve been using the Aztech homeplugs for over 3 years now. Started with the HL109EP, used it for some time, and then several months back I upgraded to the HL115EP.

My preference for home networking connectivity is Cat5e UTP cables. However, when I moved into my current apartment in 2008, renovation works was kept to a bare minimal, and so to run new wiring was not an option. The next best thing was to leverage existing cables.

My apartment has 2 levels with the core internet access point in a far end of the apartment. Wireless reach is poor, and I had to extend it. Wireless bridging didn’t give good performance, and would require several Linksys WRT54GL (my old time favorite hacked with DD-WRT) to cover the whole apartment. So, the other alternative was with physical connectivity, which cleverly uses the power lines that reaches to every corner of the apartment.

The Aztech homeplugs were introduced, and worked pretty well. The electric cabling around the house became the core network backbone of my home network.

With the HL109EP, which on the box rates to be 200Mbps, was able to deliver up to 36Mbps with the power points on the lower level, and about 17Mbps on the higher level. The reason was how the electrical connection was done; there’s a big hop from the lower to upper level.

The LAN port on the HL109EP was 100Base-T, which is very common. If you are thinking now, how will 100Base-T give 200Mbps, it’s the common marketing gimmick of adding upstream (100Mbps) and downstream (100Mbps). As my internet connection back then a 10Mbps (ADSL), that was good enough. Anywhere in the apartment I could make use of the full bandwidth of my internet line.

Earlier this year, I upgraded to 50Mbps Fibre. That puts the “core network” to be the bottleneck. The reasonable option was to upgrade. Quite coincidentally, Aztech launched the new HL115EP. On the box it says 500Mbps, and the device has a 1Gbps LAN port. How this has improved is that the device has a built in noise filter. This will effectively improves on the quality of the signal the HL115EP can deliver over the same wires, and therefore achieving higher speed.

The performance of the HL115EP is definitely noticeable. In my case as a 1 to 1 replacement of the HL109EP it gives me double the throughput. At times it can go faster up to 3x but that really depends on how noisy the power lines are.

One thing to note is that the HL115EP does not work with the HL109EP, they will not talk to each other. However, if you have multiples of each, and need 2 discreet networks, that will work just fine. So say if you want to have 2 networks on the same premise that do not talk to each other, you can have one network made up of HL109EP, and another of HL115EP.

I don’t have experience with other competing products and cannot compare. But what I can advise is that keep your Powerline networking gears to be consistent throughout. Don’t attempt to mix and match. I was lucky to be able to upgrade all my HL109EP to HL115EP through an Aztech launch promotion!!

I did say to keep the Powerline equipment consistent; that’s all that really matters. Your internet router, wireless access points, NAS, everything else on the network, does not have to be an Aztech. I have a 2Wire router (provided by my ISP), a DLink Gigabit switch, Linksys WRT54GL, Baffalo¬†WZR-HP-G300NH, Foscam FI8919W, Apple Airport Express connected to various HL115EP and they are working very well.

For those who wonder how I test the network throughput, basically just having a PC/notebook at each end of the HL115EP and run iperf on them.

Anyone in Singapore who is keen to invest in the HL115EP, on tip is Aztech is in every PC show that happens every 3 months in Singapore. You can typically buy a pair for under S$120. Outside the PC show, a pair will cost about S$130 depending on where you shop. Find the brochure of a recent PC show here.

mifi good and bad with the huawei e5830

so, I’ve been using the E5380 for 6 weeks now. The experience has been mixed, at times, it works great and flawlessly, and at times, it’s just horrendous.

So, would this be a device the I recommend, yes definitely; but know it’s limitations. To be fair, I’m using Singtel here in Singapore, and the device Singtel sells is the e5832. I could be that the e5830 is not totally well compatible with Singtel.

Before I get all too technical here, this is what I have experienced….

The situations are 2 extremes…

  1. the device works flawlessly and delivers uninterrupted internet access
  2. the device connects to the internet, works for a few mins and then loses connection, but thinks it’s still online

So far, I don’t have a clear clue on why exactly this is happening. From my observation and numerous internet posts, plus comparing some specs, I believe there are 3 possibilities

  1. what I do notice is that connection tends to be very flaky when signal strength is weak. But if I switch the device to force it to connect only using GSM (and never 3G) it will work smoothly, just slow. So here, I question what’s wrong that is preventing the device to switch network automatically… very much like what the E220 USB dongle can do.
  2. Reading from some aussie forums, it appears that there are users with the E5830 that encountered the same symptoms as I have. ie, the device works very well and consistently in some areas, and in others, flaky. What they have observed but unable to confirm is that it could have been a carrier network issue. So for many of them, without doing anything to the devices, all of the sudden at the areas where the device worked bad, it was performing fine already. The conclusion there is that there was some operating issue with their mobile provider and it was fixed at the carrier end.
  3. Singtel does issue the E5832 with the high end post paid plans, and comparing the difference between the E5830 and E5832, is that the E5832 supports WCDMA 2100/900MHz where the E5830 only supports WCMDA 2100MHz. Could it be that to work well with the Singtel network, I need the WCDMA 900MHz also? I don’t know, so far I’m not able to find any details online about what frequencies does Singtel 3G network operate on. In addition, my friend has the exact same model as me, just that he’s using Starhub. Starhub has the E5830, and his experience has been all much better than mine. In areas where I have dodgy signals, his still works smoothly. Will need more testing to see how well it performs in areas of weak signal strength.

There are alternatives out there for 3G pocket router solutions. The Novatel MIFI is definitely discouraged from the stories I’ve heard. But now, manufacturers like Aztech and Dlink produce 3G routers which you can plug your good ol 3G USB dongles to. I’ve read that some of the newer routers are USB powered, but have yet to be able to validate that. If true, it could be a viable alternative, BUT with a heavier baggage. The E583x models are still the slimmests and most portable around.