Zonet 16-Port 10/100 Mbps Switch
Also sponsored by Water Drop Jewelry
I bought the Zonet 16-Port 10/100 Mbps Switch for my local area network (LAN) because I had run out of ports on my router (more properly a residential gateway). The ancient hub I was using to supplement it was needing to be reset on too regular of a basis. I searched only at the sites I regularly buy from (Amazon, Buy.com, TigerDirect). I was worried that at $34.95 (at TigerDirect.com) this switch might be too cheap to work properly. I was pleasantly surprised.
The switch box is molded blue plastic, so it is very light. It is designed to need no software set up. I was suspicious of that as well, but it turned out to be true.
Using standard Ethernet CAT cables, I plugged one port into my router. The only other wire going out of my wire is to my satellite modem. Most people would be connected to DSL, cable or wireless, but the principle is the same.
The other ports go to my main computer, and my wife's, both running Vista, to an old XP computer, and to a color laser printer. Of course the Zonet Switch also has a small external power supply.
Between the magic of the box itself, and the magic of Vista, it worked immediately. Vista did not even tell me it had detected anything different. We have had a lot of trouble with the networked printer, which was on the hub with my wife's computer, but it worked the first time she tried to print.
Now I have 11 ports for expansion. I probably could have done for a while with an eight-port switch, but given the tendency of devices to want to plug directly into the Ethernet, and the low price differential between a 8 port and a 16 port switch, I splurged. The other upgrade would have been to a 1Gbps switch, but my satellite Internet connection is so slow that would be a waste.
There may be some situations where you would want to manage a switch, but that is a headache most small and home offices don't need.
I don't know how long the switch will last, but my experience is most equipment become technologically outdated before it breaks.
I would recommend the Zonet 16-Port Switch to anyone who wants to run a home network that requires more than the 4 switch ports that come with most inexpensive routers.
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