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S3 Diamond HomeFree: Wireless & Phoneline Network Kits (Page 2/2)

Posted: January 19, 2000
Written by: Chris Burek


While we were impressed with the performance and stability of the HomeFree Phoneline, Diamond's HomeFree Wireless disappointed us to say the least. It did not perform anywhere near its marketed transfer rate of 1mbps, nor could it keep a constant, stable network connection. Also, we found the farther the connected PCs were apart, the worse the network stability became. At approximately 140-feet apart, a connection could not even be established, meaning the Wireless could not even achieve its advertised maximum distance of 150-feet.

Using the Phoneline, a 5MB EXE takes about 2-3 seconds, whereas with the Wireless, it took almost two minutes. A 50MB ZIP file sped through the Phoneline in under a minute, buy chugged along the Wireless in just over 20 minutes.

As for multiplayer gaming, we tested each HomeFree kit using the recently released Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena. Because the Wireless network was so unstable, both UT and Q3A were victim to excessive lag and jerkiness, proving unplayable with this particular kit. However, with the HomeFree Phoneline, our pings faired quite well (between 10-20), providing an improved game with small amounts of lag.

Internet sharing worked great with the HomeFree Phoneline, but we had a miserable time browsing with the Wireless because of its poor stability.

Printer sharing faired well with both the kits, obviously with the Phoneline connection sending our documents to the printer faster, but the Wireless faired well also.


Diamond's HomeFree Phoneline graced us as a great product, but the HomeFree Wireless is merely a superb idea with poor implementation of the technology. We can see this particular technology really taking off if engineers can find a way to increase the transfer rates (10mbps+) and improve stability.

The HomeFree Phoneline is an excellent network kit, using your existing phone wiring to eliminate installation hassle, and it provides adequate performance for Internet and printer sharing, file transfer, and multiplayer gaming, in addition to easy software setup.

Unfortunately, we cannot recommend the HomeFree Wireless simply because the technology is in its infancy, and performance was extremely poor.

In conclusion, the HomeFree Phoneline is highly recommend for families, the casual end user, or network beginners. But for the more demanding end user, powerful and robust 100mbps networks kits (non-phoneline) are available, and for almost the same price.

Overall Rating:

Diamond HomeFree Phoneline Desktop Pack: 8/10
Diamond HomeFree Wireless Desktop Pack: 5/10

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