gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

“Piggy 6” HomePlug Power Strip

The curiously named Piggy 6 comes complete with a matching curious appearance, but is perhaps the single most must-have HomePlug-enabled product currently on the market.

I have a brief and unexciting tale to tell about my discovery of this intuitive product, the likes of which I thought had never been conceived before.

Shortly after one of my emails to Solwise exclaiming how nice it would be to have HomePlug and Ethernet ports integrated directly into a power-strip I found myself upon their website, and with a response… both showing that such a product had recently come into existence. After recovering from the shock of Solwise’s evident clairvoyance and the dissapointment that I had been beaten to such an ingenious new invention I hurried to request a look at the Piggy 6 so that I could test if “my” idea was actually practical.

And, well, it is. The Piggy 6 exceeded my expectations not only by providing a generous three Ethernet ports but by adopting a slightly ugly but extremely useful form-factor that allows it to accommodate even the most troublesome of obnoxiously sized and shaped power bricks without losing the use of other sockets.

The Piggy 6 is the first power-strip I have encountered for the home that is not even necessarily a strip, but in fact a single, bulbous but clever blob with six angled faces, each of which boasts a socket. Its roughly circular, or hexagonal, design means that plugs are spaced much further apart than they would be ordinarily and bulky power bricks can comfortably sit next to each other.

In the base of the Piggy 6, the 3 Ethernet ports provide enough connectivity, for example, for one of each major “next gen” games console currently on the market or even for 3 desktop PCs which could also be powered by the Piggy 6 along with their displays.

In my case, I managed to replace two SlingLinks and two 4-gang power strips with the Piggy 6. It now provides power and connectivity to an Xbox 360, a SlingCatcher and the television set. Leaving a port free for another gadget or a desktop PC undergoing maintenance and plenty of sockets left to power them, too.

The Piggy 6 is a 200Mbps HomePlug device, meaning it’ll comfortably fit with the rest of your (most likely 100mbps) network without creating excessive bottlenecks. The 3 Ethernet ports are 100Mbps meaning that you will never get 200Mbps of throughput on any one connected device. The PowerLine throughput will therefore be shared, with the theoretical maximum of 100Mbps throughput for two simultaneous devices or 66Mbps between three. My tests with previous HomePlug devices suggest, however, that you shouldn’t expect more than 150Mbps total out of that 200Mbps theoretical maximum; your home power lines were never designed for data connectivity.

Although this sounds a little lackluster, you’ll never find the Piggy 6 bottlenecking your network unless you’ve kitted your house out with gigabyte Ethrenet from top to bottom.

If you’re new to HomePlug, there’s very little else to say about them, but I would like to re-iterate that getting the Piggy 6 up and running (along with another compatible HomePlug device that you will most likely need to get connected to the internet) is almost a simple as plugging in a network cable. Two compatible (200Mbps in this case) HomePlug devices from any manufacturer will simply plug into your mains supply and magically work.

In short, the Solwise Piggy 6 is, hands-down, the best HomePlug device I’ve got my hands on thus far. It exemplifies the convenience that HomePlug is all about, incorporates an ingenious socket-saving design aesthetic and, once you get used to it, doesn’t look half bad in the corner of a bedroom. It is, therefore, a shame that such a convenient product comes at a steep (but certainly not unusual for premium A/V power strips) price of over £70.

Monday, April 6th, 2009, Featured, Gadgets.