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TP-LINK TL-SG108E 8-Port Gigabit Easy Smart Switch, 8 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ45 Ports, MTU/Port/Tag-Based VLAN, QoS and IGMP
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: Used to be you’d have to spend a few hundred bucks for a managed 8 port gigabit switch. Do you need a managed switch? At this price, why not get one. I think most home users probably don’t need a managed switch, so you can use it as a dumb switch, hook it up, don’t do any setup, and don’t worry about it until you find yourself needing the extra capabilities. What can you do with a managed switch? Plenty. -- See Other Thoughts.

TP-Link has several marketing terms for its 8-Port managed switches. “Easy Smart Switch” is this model. “Smart Switch” is the next level up model – the TL-SG2008 – at about twice the price. Moving up from there are the professional “Jetstream” L2 and the scalable “Jetsream” L3 models which have features like SFP slots to attach things like fiber interface modules.

The main difference between the SG108E and the SG2008 is that management of this model switch is done through a Windows utility running on a Windows computer attached to the network. The SG2008 is managed via a browser based utility running on the switch and has a few more configurable features. The SG2008 also has a 4MB buffer vs. 2MB for the SG108E. They both have the same switching capacity (16 Gbps), forwarding rate (11Mpps), and Mac address capacity (8K). I think the SG108E is easier to configure.

This switch is small, solid, has a metal case, and does not require a fan. There is an external power supply. Inside the metal enclosure I found a Realtek RTL8370N Layer 2 Managed 10/100/1000 Switch controller with a heat sink and 1MB attached Flash memory. Included in the retail box are also a quick set-up sheet and a Mini CD that contains a detailed 40 page pdf manual and the Configuration utility installer.

The configuration utility is organized into System, Switching, Monitoring, VLAN, and QoS sections. The switch supports up to 32 port-based and tagged VLANs. It has a loop prevention feature. It supports port and 802.1p based QoS with 4 priority settings. You can do in/out bandwidth control per port. You can specify a storm control limit and apply it to one or more ports. Static LAG groups are supported. There is automatic power saving that can shut down idle ports and adjust power depending on cable lengths. Port Mirroring is supported on one port at a time. Packet counts can be monitored by interface.

Cons: Need a Windows computer connected to the network and running the TP-Link configuration utility to manage the settings.

Some more advanced features are only available in the next up price point device. These include port based MAC control, packet filtering, dynamic LAGs, port monitoring counts by packet type (Broadcast, Multicast, Unicast, packet size).

Other Thoughts: So what can you do with one of these things besides just plugging it in and using it like just another dumb switch? Well, at this price, if you have to replace a dumb switch get one of these smart switches instead. You can:

-Use the monitoring functions built into the switch to figure out where and why your network might not be performing well because you can measure which network routes are congested. Will all the new streaming applications and NAS units it can help you decide which part of your network might need gigabit upgrades, whether you need to implement QoS controls, and where an extra LAG - ed line backbone between switches might help (next thing).

-Make a higher speed backbone to your network with Link Aggregation Groups (LAG). The concept here is several wires/ports between LAG enabled switches can be logically connected into one high-throughput pathway.

-You can do port-mirroring to snoop on a port’s traffic (with WireShark) to find out network problems and look for things like rouge applications calling home in an unauthorized way.

-Network Segmentation. Smart switches let you define VLANs so you can separate your LAN into separate segments with different bandwidth, security, and QoS requirements.

-QoS. You can specify different priorities to different types of traffic. For instance VoIP doesn’t use a lot of bandwidth but it requires priority and needs some bandwidth reserved for it.

-Protect yourself from having your network go down if someone misconnects something and creates a loopback or broadcast storm situation.

All of this makes your network a lot more efficient. Once you get all this stuff down it is time to read about how IGMP Snooping and multicast works - which is supported by this switch and works automatically to reduce network traffic.

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TP-LINK TL-WDN4200 N900 Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter, 2.4GHz 450Mbps/5Ghz 450Mbps, One-Button Setup,Windows XP/Vista/7/8
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: Amazing that they can put three antennas per band in something this size. Yes, the adapter is way bigger than a single stream device and will block an adjacent usb port on most laptops if you don’t use the included usb extension cord – but you have to understand the coolness of what you are getting.

In case you are not up to date on wireless technology and don’t have an 802.11ac router the next best thing is 802.11n protocol. 802.11n protocol can be run on either the 2.4GHz or the 5 GHz radio band. N gets you up to about 150 megabits per “spatial stream” which can be thought of as a 20 MHz radio channel. The big deal with n is that you can “bond” several “spatial streams” together for increased throughput. Two streams gets you 300 Mbit/sec. Some of the newest routers can “bond” up to three streams for 450Mbs on a band. Each stream usually gets its own antenna.

This adapter can do three spatial streams on both the 2.4GHz and the 5 GHz band. This presumes you have a router that supports three spatial streams per band and the router is set to n-only mode (they usually come set to “mixed mode” by default to support legacy devices like B or G protocol on the network.) If your router is set to “mixed mode” and you have non-N devices on the network the whole band throughput can slow down dramatically both on the n devices as well as the legacy devices. Typically G maxes out at 54Mbs and B is 11 Mbs. Also the total bandwidth is divided between the various client devices.

Realistic TCP throughput on pure three stream N will max out around 150Mbs per radio under ideal conditions due to TCP protocol overhead when Windows is showing a 450 Mbs connection.

Most people set the 2.4GHz to the most compatible mixed mode setting and then use the n-only mode on the 5GHz radio to stream media, video, and large files. Most phones/tablets only do one stream because of limited battery life.

A windows driver mini-CD is provided for XP, Vista, Win7. You will need to install drivers for Win 7. I think it should auto-install on Win 8 if it is like TP-Link’s other products but I didn’t have a Win8 laptop to test it on.

I got this adapter to work on Ubuntu without installing any drivers.

Cons: Does not support new 802.11ac protocol. TP-Link has a two stream 802.11ac usb adapter for about 5 bucks more on newegg. Last year, the ac adapters were rare and about 3x the price. The ac protocol only happens on the 5 GHz band and provides about 433 Mbit/sec per spatial stream. Three stream consumer ac routers (1.3 gigabit per second on the 5GHz band and MU-MIMO support) are becoming common (corporate level wireless protocol implementation usually lags behind consumer). Newer laptops and some handsets like the iPhone 6, HTC M8, and Galaxy S4/S5 support the ac protocol (it’s less battery power per byte). If you have an ac capable router it would make more sense to get the 802.11 ac adapter.

Other Thoughts: Testing wireless adapters objectively is made difficult by varying real world conditions that include microwaves, cell phones, neighbors, differing routers, and the way the router is set up. Under decent conditions at 25 feet using TCP protocol and averaging unidirectional uplink and downlink speed on actual data I got about 120Mbit/s on 2.4 GHz and 110 Mbit/s on 5GHz measured with iXChariot. Simultaneous up/down would be higher but less indicative of real-world use. The test wireless routers (Cisco and Netgear) were set to support 3 stream N and had no other wireless devices attached. The 5 Ghz speed dropped off fastest with distance but I could still connect two wooden floors away and 50 feet laterally.

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D-Link DCS-5009L Pan/Tilt Day/Night Motion Detection Wireless Cloud IP Camera
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

5 out of 5 eggs Good Sub-100 buck IP cam 09/14/2014

This review is from: D-Link DCS-5009L Pan/Tilt Day/Night Motion Detection Wireless Cloud IP Camera

Pros: D-Link’s apparent goal with its entire product line is “Zero Configuration”. They try to make this camera easy to set up for the technologically challenged when it comes to networks, routers, port-forwarding, dynamic DNS, firewalls, and such - so that the video can be viewed remotely from outside your local network with no real setup effort.

Their solution is something called mydlink and the company’s eventual goal is to break into the smart home market with various modules that started with cameras and routers. The assumption is that a sub 100 buck camera with easy setup will trump something more technologically advanced with a more difficult setup. They are probably right. Explanation of security trade-offs are in “other thoughts”.

Three documented setup methods:
1) Own a D-link “Cloud enabled” router, hook up the camera to the network, log into your mydlink account and click “Yes” to add the camera.
2) Download “Setup Wizard” from the internet (Mac & Windows), follow instructions which may include installing Java if you don’t have it.
3) Do it all manually using the camera’s built in Web Configuration Utility– you may need to download the user manual from internet. The default IP if no DHCP is 192 168 0 20.

Android and iOS apps for viewing and controlling camera are available. The ipad iOS app that allows multiple camera display is not free. The one camera version iPhone/iPad app “mydlink Lite” is free. It has had some prior bad reviews but I liked the current version. It also allowed associating a wireless local camera that I manually set up to a mydlink account without having to download a Setup Wizard to the desktop. Through the portal on default settings and the cam on wireless I got 8.5 FPS MJPEG 480P on the iOS app. The support site has some instructional videos, some sample video, and an emulation of the Web Configuration Utility.

I tested full manual set-up, e-mailing of snapshots & video clips to a gmail account on a time schedule, e-mail notification based on the motion detection's 5 x 5 grid, uploads to an FTP server, remote access via port-forwarding, audio, and DDNS function. You can store up to 24 preset pan/tilt settings. Bonjour is supported as well as UPnP. H.264 bitrate can be specified. All the functions worked fine for me. Firmware is still on the 1.00 version.

Cons: The trend in network cameras is going to HD/megapixel resolution.

This is D-Link’s lower resolution camera but it is priced correctly for what you get. Limitations compared to a more expensive model: Max resolution is 640 x 480 (CMOS VGA) at 15 fps using either H.264 or MJPEG. Documentation states the resolution for the remote portal is QVGA (320 x 240) but I seemed to get 480P on the free iOS app. Lens focus is manual. There is no optical zoom. Wireless n is single channel (150N). There is no in-camera storage (like an SD card slot) to allow for going back to replay video from the past. There is a mic but no speaker. No power over Ethernet but supports both wireless and Ethernet connectivity. Pretty good IR illumination. Wireless installation can interfere with garage door opener function if camera is used in garage. Changing the default HTTP port of 80 to something less obvious seemed to break local camera detection on the iOS app but the mydlink remote function keeps working.

The time/date schedule enabled functions: manual day/night mode, email/ftp, and motion detection don’t allow more than one time segment per day. To have a time segment span the midnight boundary requires kludging with the time-zone.

Firmware updates require first downloading the update file to your computer.

Cannot assign a camera to more than one mydlink account. Mydlink cloud does not provide a video record-to-cloud feature - you have to buy one of their NVRs or a SD slot camera. Trying to view video from the camera using the iOS Safari browser won’t work because iOS does not support JAVA – you have to use the app. iOS app seems to only support MJEPG.

Other Thoughts: I own 9 other consumer-grade network cameras from various vendors at this resolution and higher to use for comparison. The hardware on the D-Link compares well. It is about equal to a same-resolution Foscam in terms of external build quality and I think it is slightly better in terms of image quality. The pan/tilt is quiet. There is an IR cut filter. The hardware from the Google-purchased Dropcam company seems to be more expensive when you compare similar image resolutions. My personal experience with other cameras in this price range is that higher sensor resolutions don’t always translate into better images if the lens is poor -which it often is. The firmware does not limit you to having to using mydlink.

This camera’s resolution is just fine for checking on pet/child locations, seeing if your garage door is left open, or verifying that your sump pump is operating in a dark utility room via its night vision and audio. It is not sufficient for facial or license plate recognition applications.

The first question you have to answer when buying this kind of product is whether you are buying this as a monitoring gadget or as part of a security solution.

Security solutions are more than just buying cameras, figuring out secure installation, and calculating required camera bandwidths. Another major component is storing video for later playback. For network cameras this is usually done with a NVR - although in-camera storage or cloud storage can sometimes be used. D-Link makes several NVR’s that support between four to nine cameras each depending on model. Other D-Link cameras feature in-camera storage.

One security related compromise that is made to get mydlink to work without delving into setting up port-forwarding, firewall permissions, and DDNS is that the mydlink compatable devices must constantly broadcast to mydlink from within your network. It seems that initiating an outbound connection by the device is what makes all this work through a firewall. I don’t know if this can be turned off and I haven’t wiresharked this yet. The mydlink site then decides which account your camera is registered to in order to be able to connect from outside the network. So, you have to trust in D-Link corporation’s security and good intentions much like you trust Google when you have an android phone or gmail account.

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Gregory P.'s Profile

Display Name: Gregory P.

Date Joined: 11/07/09

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  • First Review: 12/18/09
  • Last Review: 11/16/14
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