Laptop max speed (router short range) test
Laptop (ZyXEL PLA4231 WiFi)
Laptop long range (router)
Devolo 500Mbps Pass-through
Zyxel PLA4201 500Mbps
Devolo 200Mbps Pass-through
MB/sec - higher is better
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The Zyxel PLA4231 offers a potentially useful set of features depending on your situation. Seeing as you'd need a power socket to plug a WiFi extender in, and a suitable WiFi signal from your existing router, the combination of a powerline adaptor and and Wireless access point clearly has some advantages. You won't be reliant on WiFi signal from your router in order to rebroadcast it, and with two Ethernet ports, the PLA4231 can dish out network access to a variety of devices too.
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It doesn't offer the best powerline speeds we've seen though, and the WiFi signal did drop off fairly quickly once we'd left the room. A home office or entertainment room located in a different room to a router is probably the situation most likely to benefit from the PLA4231, where it can negate the need for a separate access point, doesn't rely on your router's signal strength and has the ability to feed a couple of consoles plus the usual mobile devices.
While it's a shame it doesn't have a power pass through, PLA4231 does at least eliminate the cable that would otherwise be powering an access point. At £40, it's cheaper than a separate powerline adaptor and access point too. As ever, its usefulness will be quite specific, and is probably only worth considering if your router's signal strength is lacking in a particular room, where you need both Ethernet ports and a decent WiFi signal. If that's your situation then the PLA4231 is very useful indeed.