JAPAN: could HD-PLC be about to give you smarter mains?

Been meaning to write about this one for a while, ever since the CEATEC show - which seems yonks ago now, but so much has happened...

HD-PLC was big news at the Japanese show, with a variety of companies showing hardware and components compatible with the system, and the HD-PLC Alliance having an impressive stand packed with everything from computer and AV devices to security equipment.

So what is HD-PLC? It may sound like a high definition limited company, but in fact it's s standard for HD Power Line Connection of devices, bit like the 'Ethernet over the mains' we have in the UK - but taken to the limit.

In Japan, with its high-speed internet coming into the home over fibre-optic cable, HD-PLC is catching on big time, with companies such as Buffalo, I/0 Data, NEC and Panasonic supporting it.

The HD-PLC Alliance, having just celebrated its first anniversary, is concerned with ensuring complete interoperability of equipment, which ranges from door and window controls to internet radios from the likes of Tangent to doorphone add-ons for plasma TVs, all of which can be connected using the very simple system.

Plug units into the mains, hook up an Ethernet cable, press one button and communication is established without the need for a computer to set it all up.

It can even control who plugs into your mains to charge up their electric car, should you have gone the whole eco route. If the car doesn't handshake with your home, it doesn't get the juice.

And HD-PLC could be coming to your home soon: the Alliance is keen to spread the standard to other markets. You see, while Japanese legislation limits its use to the home, research is going on into business and mobile add-ons for other countries.

Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.