The TL-PA211’s style is very similar to the rest of TP-LINK’s product line. I like the style of their products, so this is definitely a plus. Yes, the design is simple (white and black casing with green LED’s), but it works. After you look over the unit and plug it into the wall, you’ll see a few LED’s light up along the front middle.
The first is your power LED and will always be on, unless the unit is in power-saving mode, then it will be flashing. The second LED notifies you of the powerline network’s status. If it’s on then the powerline adapters have successfully connected to one another. If it’s flashing, then that means it is transmitting data. The last LED is for Ethernet status. As usual, if it’s on, then the Ethernet cord is plugged in on both ends, if it’s flashing, there’s data being transferred.
The bottom of the powerline adapter is home to the Ethernet port and pairing button. I never had to pair the devices, I just plugged in each device and they instantly synched with one another. I imagine if you had multiple adapters in your powerline network, or multiple powerline networks, the pairing button would need to be used. The last component is the actual plug. Nothing too special here, after all, it is just a plug. One of my favorite things about the TL-PA211 is the top of the adapter doesn’t have a large profile. It easily fits directly into the wall socket even with other things plugged in. You can also rotate the unit and plug it in upside down. The design of the TL-PA211 was well very well thought out.
The software that comes with the TL-PA211 is not necessary to use the adapter. Because of this, the adapter should work with any device that has an Ethernet port. Although, since the adapter doesn’t have a web address you can go to like a router, the bundled software does give you some insight into what the adapter is doing. The software will tell you the powerline link quality, rate, and MAC address of the adapter. You can also configure a password for your network. This will allow you to create multiple powerline networks, or keep other nosy people off of your network. TP-LINK even included some QoS settings. When you change the QoS settings and hit save, the software changes the configuration on the adapter. So you don’t have to leave the software running for the changes to remain in effect. The three QoS classes you can choose from are Online Game/Internet, Audio/Video, VoIP. Throughout my testing, I didn’t find a need to change the QoS setting. Although, my powerline network only had two nodes and there wasn’t mixed traffic. Also, the software is really lightweight. You do have to install WinPcap for the Powerline Utility to work, but that isn’t a big deal either.