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This review is from: NETGEAR GS208 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch in Plastic Case - Essentials Edition
Pros: Great speed
Cons: Slippery, no feet
Other Thoughts: This switch from Netgear is a great offering for the home user. It’s a great price and serves its purpose. Nearly identical to it’s sibling, the Netgear GS108, it’s just as solid in performance and uses less power. One of the few discernible differences is its plastic housing as opposed to the GS108’s built-like-a-tank steel housing. If you’re one of those types that is bothered by lots of plastic, then spend the extra $20 and get the GS108. This housing also has no rubber feet or anything and is a very smooth plastic surface, so if you want it to stay put, you may need to go spend a few cents on some rubber feet.
The other noteable difference from the GS108 is the indicator lights on the front with socket numbers. The numbers aren’t repeated on the back of the unit so you’ll need to note that the port corresponds directly front to back to the indicator lights.
Overall you can’t go wrong with this switch from Netgear. They’re as solid and faithful in the switch world as a John Deere tractor in a field. $29.99 at the time of this writing is a price that's well worth it to have a "forever" switch.
Pros: Decent link speeds
Can be set up as an Access Point, WDS or Repeater
Cons: Extremely bright LEDs, at least you can turn off
Setup is more involved than it should be
Cable that comes with it is 18” long, really?
Not as inconspicuous as it seems
Other Thoughts: This smoke detector look-a-like wireless access point (WAP) from EnGenius is an interesting piece. The idea seems to be for it to look like a smoke detector so it will blend in and so people won’t mess with it. It does have a nice look, but out of the box is not all that inconspicuous. It is much thicker than a smoke detector and most smoke detectors I’ve seen don’t have clearly marked activity lights for power, and wireless/wired activity. Those indicator lights are extremely bright, although they may be turned off in the firmware. Also, hopefully the user will have an actual smoke detector nearby, which would probably make people wonder why a second, bigger one is around. I’m not privy to smoke detector technology but if possible, think it would have been a really neat feature for EnGenius to simply incorporate an actual smoke detector into this device, then you “kill two birds with one stone” and never have to replace your smoke detector batteries. Just a thought.
In the box is the WAP, ceiling mount hardware (including screws and drywall anchors!), wall wart power adapter, a very short and seemingly useless network cable, quick install manual, and full sized CD.
Initial setup was a little more involved than it should be. You’re unable to set this guy up via wifi, and you also have to set a static IP address so you’re on the proper subnet. I’ve never set up a WAP where that was necessary.
I’m a little confused on the firmware for this device, as the device I received has version 1.5.1 (and is v1 of the hardware), and yet the downloadable firmware on the EnGenius website is version 1.4.4. So I’m assuming I have the latest firmware. The menus were easy to navigate and settings pretty straight forward.
The speeds on this guy and range were great. I was able to get triple digit link speeds at 100ft through a wall and down a floor. So set up in its intended configuration (mounted on a ceiling), it should serve a business extremely well. The power over ethernet ability also makes this much simpler to install for a business.
Overall this WAP from EnGenius is a great device and serves its purpose well. $86 at the time of this writing seems like a great price in comparison to other similar devices, although it is larger and more obtrusive than other similar devices and does not feature wireless ac (you’ll have to step up to an order-of-magnitude more expensive device to get ac from EnGenius).
Pros: Physical buttons
USB file sharing
Cons: Drivers are on a Mini-CD
Firmware is a little flakey
Other Thoughts: This router from TP-LINK is almost a carbon copy of the previous version, the TL-WDR4300. The only real difference between the two is the addition of wireless ac support in this model.
The router is packaged via the familiar, pancake style shell that most routers are nowadays. TP-LINK added a fancy pattern to the finish on top, sort of a large grained carbon fiber look. Included in the box is the router, two antennas, power supply (a smallish wall wart), a short cat5e patch cable, and the detestable old mini CD TP-LINK likes to include with their routers that nobody ever uses.
Also included is a GPL notice. This intrigued me at first, thinking perhaps the software had been somewhat improved since the last revision. After plugging the unit into my network and playing with it, the unfortunate answer to that question is no. The firmware that came with the unit was pretty recent, but still not the latest, so you might want to grab that update if you decide to actually buy this router. There is very broken English all throughout the software, which may give a hint of unprofessionalism to some, but obviously shouldn’t affect the operation of the device. The firmware pages are not well organized and do work, however not very intuitively. USB sharing and FTP server setup is very involved and there’s some strange limits (2 users, 10 folders max?). These types of limits tend to point to less care taken in software development. The features do seem to work but you shouldn’t need a 34 page manual to get through something like this. I will say I’m glad to see there’s a default password included and that it’s possible to set this router up without the CD. I don’t, however, like having to install separate software to access the printer or other devices.
The link speed I got was 270Mbps with my wireless n adapter. Signal strength was good, but hopefully so considering I have a very small apartment.
Overall this seems like a decent router which has some finicky software. If you don’t mind that it’s a great price to get AC. The downer in comparison to other bargain priced TP-LINK routers is there does not appear to be support yet from the dd-wrt or openwrt communities.