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3Com's 10/100 Switching... Wallplate 342

An anonymous reader wrote in to say "Tom's hardware has an exclusive review of the new 3Com Network Jack. This is a 4-port 10/100 switch that fits in a standard-sized wallplate." Alright, thats a good idea (he says while accidentally kicking the switch hidden under his desk). Having run more then my share of ethernet drops in the past, I gotta say I dig this idea.
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3Com's 10/100 Switching... Wallplate

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  • by Hee Hee Hee ( 310695 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @04:26PM (#2632954)
    Honey! Can I change my Christmas list from socks to a 4-port wall...


    Oh, it's so you can connect four computers in one location.



    Someday the dog might need an Ethernet port, too.

    Oh, whatever! Get me the damned tie then!

    Women! Grrrr....
  • Now, if only... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zentigger ( 203922 )
    ...it included an 802.11b wireless bridge, we could do away with cabling altogether :)

  • by kiley ( 95428 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @04:27PM (#2632959)
    I got an offer in the mail for a free one of these. Just gotta fill out a survey at http://www.3com.com/customer_first (no html link because I'm lazy). Of course you need a customer code on the post card. *grin*
  • I dunno... (Score:5, Funny)

    by 11thangel ( 103409 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @04:28PM (#2632963) Homepage
    Will it protect it from the wierd guy in networking that once shorted out the phone system while rewiring his ethernet port because he decided it was too slow for his everquest games? Is it armored to protect it from the REALLY wierd guy from R & D that was running around the comms room with a broadsword?

    (The really sad part is, I'm not kidding. I actually work with these people.)

    *prepares new resume*
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You idiot! That wasn't a broadsword it was a bastard sword. Maybe it was my scimtar. I definitely don't have a broadsword!
    • I once carried a double-edged battle axe through a mall. It was hard to keep a straight face. You get a lot of strange looks. I'm not sure why.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Do that today, and you'd probably attract the cops.

        Damn terrorists, making it so that normal, law-abiding citizens can't carry double-edged battle axes through public malls without arousing suspicion...

        (For the humor impaired, that was supposed to be a joke.)

  • And when did I finish re-wiring my house ? 2 months ago.

    They did this on purpose didn't they ? Its just to annoy me I can tell, its a personal thing, well I'm going to take it like a man and blub in the corner.

    Great idea, would have been perfect rather than the mini hubs or manual wiring jobs I had to use.

    Bugger. I'll get them for this, just you see if I don't :)
  • Only four ports? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Old Wolf ( 56093 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @04:33PM (#2633006)
    Haivng a technically minded guy around is great..:)
    The wall-ports at my work each have 6 ethernet connections, one BNC, and two telephone jacks.
    6 you may ask? Well, since ethernet only uses four of the eight wires in the cat5 cable, so you can send two connections down one cable (and out one wall jack), although you need a splitter cable (easy to make) if you want to get the second connection out of it of course :)
    Then, all the ports are wired up via the walls to a central switchboard where you can use short pieces of cable to connect the network any way you like. It's brilliant :)
    • Re:Only four ports? (Score:5, Informative)

      by the_2nd_coming ( 444906 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @04:36PM (#2633035) Homepage
      but that is only good for 10/100.....1000baset uses all 8 wires.

      • 1Gbit Ethernet also is supposed to use cat5e, not cat5. Anyways, it only takes 2 RJ-45 jacks and a crimper to transform a dual 100 mbit ethernet cable into a single 1 Gbit eithernet cable.

      • And that won't work reliably for 100 autonegotiate ports either. We're having to rewire a 5000 node campus right now because of it.
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Exmet Paff Daxx ( 535601 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @04:33PM (#2633014) Homepage Journal
    A hub built into a wall switch! That's amazing! At the rate things are going, someone is going to invent a network card that doesn't even NEED cables, and this thing will be obsolete! Maybe it could use RADIO WAVES!
    • All other issues aside, wireless devices are are based on shared bandwidth, that is, they act like hubs.

      This product is a 10/100 ethernet switch. A completely different animal.

      You can now use a single faceplate with a single FastEthernet run back to your core switch to provide switched 10 or 100Mbps connectivity to multiple hosts, and they cannot see each others traffic.

      I'm not sure if it's worth several hundred bucks, but it is a neat idea.

  • Speaking of 3com... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wakko Warner ( 324 )
    ...anyone else notice how bad their switches suck? We've run into problems where even cards manufactured by 3com will not work with their 10/100 switches. I wouldn't trust something like this in my data center or in my bedroom walls...
    • It's possibly the cards. I had shitloads of grief from a 3c590 (whatever the 10/100 card is called) under FreeBSD. Posts to -questions and -hackers came back with "yeah, sucks dunnit". So it went in the bin to be replaced by a cheap-as-fuck realtek card. No problems since.

      Bugger 3com.

      • quote from the freebsd rl driver:
        The RealTek 8139 PCI NIC redefines the meaning of 'low end.' This is probably the worst PCI ethernet controller ever made, with the possible exception of the FEAST chip made by SMC.
        It then goes on and explains exactly why and how realtek design mistakes destroy it's performance so badly that you can't achieve decent 100Mbps performance with it without at least a PII-400 dedicated to pushing it.

        Congratulations on your purchase.

  • Limited Usefulness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @04:37PM (#2633044) Homepage Journal
    People who are going to install ethernet switches will probably cable it themselves and put in a regular old switch, and not need this 'gee whiz' switch. Others will opt for home PNA or 802.11 solutions.

    I don't see them selling a whole bunch of these. Other than the 'gee whiz' factor they aren't any more useful than a regular switch/hub.
    • by trcooper ( 18794 )
      It's not targetted at home users. It's for office use. Of course they won't sell a lot of these to home users, but companies will buy TONS of them.
      • It's not targetted at home users. It's for office use.

        Yes, but certainly for ignorant "small-office" types. Who is going to wire their office like this? Locking them into a 3Com scheme, not standard structured Cat5; One Port - One Drop.

        This is going to lock you into their "Uplink Port" technology. Will everything behind the patch-cord become a mess of 3Com only connectors, cabling and termination blocks in the cabling closet? I find it difficult to believe that distributing "the switch" and using off-standard cable and terminations is going to *really* save you any money in cabling. Surely a 12port switch is cheaper than 3 of these units.

        Further, regarding data-installs, straight from the article: "when the installation is billed to you, you are charged the same amout as if they had pulled all four cables separately, rather than all four at one time.

        "... i dont know about you, but the guys who do the pulls in my building know *I'm* smarter than that. This is simply not the case, and I hope no one else puts up w/ that b.s.

    • Well you're right, when it comes to installing new ethernet connections around an existing house, but I can see this being a selling point for new home builders (especially the *pricey* new home builders) to offer their customers. Just think, they can sell their homes as "fully computer networking ready - just plug your computer in, and go!" Mainly because then the customer just would need to follow some simple instructions on how to configure their brand new WinXP computer, and no buying additional computer parts since the hubs are all in the wallplates.
    • what would realy be usful is a switch this size with a built in DSL or Cable modem. then just hook up the coax to the module behind the wall and plug in your computers. another good idea would be to add a behind the wall twisted pait connection either modular or hardwire it your self so you can run network cables with out a huge mess and no uglyness......ofcource that would probably not fit into a wall socket now would it?
    • from the article (pardon the formatting):

      Cost To Run 4 Active Network Ports | Cost To Run 4 Active Network Port Using The NJ100

      Wire Install (4 - Wires)...$467.32 | $335.65
      Power Over Ethernet..........N / A | $70.00
      Per Patch Panel Port........$19.50 | $4.88
      3ft Patch Panel Cable........$8.44 | $2.11
      Switch Port................$363.44 | $90.86
      Gigabit Switch Port.........$51.85 | $12.96
      Maintenance Per Year........$48.00 | $12.00
      Total......................$958.56 | $528.46

      anyways, considering its almost half the cost as installing 4 jacks, and about 400% easier...

      how much would it cost for an access point and 4 802.11 NICs that can handle 100Mb?
    • by yesthatguy ( 69509 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @05:31PM (#2633187) Homepage
      Actually, there are many places where it is somewhat useful. For example, I've been responsible for wiring the office building in which my company rents an office. A new tenant moved in, and wanted ethernet connectivity for 3 computers, but we had only run one drop to each office, and we weren't interested in running an additional 200' drop, especially with the 3" of workspace above the ceiling panels.

      In order to set them up (and have them pay for only one connection), we had to run the live wire out of the wall, into one computer that's running NAT, then from a second NIC in that computer to a hub, then two cables from the hub back into the wall jack, then running over to the second jack (in an adjacent room of the same suite).

      If we had had a hub/switch integrated into the walljack (and especially if it had NAT capability, *wink* *wink* 3com), this would have made the job one hell of a lot cleaner. I'd even consider replacing our current setup with this, if just to try the thing out.
  • this sounds pretty cool for some applications - particularly if you have a number of boxen in one corner of a room or something.

    Personally (and I don't know if this is similar to any other experiences), my gear is more spread out...that is, I rarely ever keep more than one ethernet-enabled device in one area of a room. I can see this being a really nice implementation for offices where a group of workstations are arranged close to one another, but other than that, there aren't many practical applications for the home. I'll probably stick to using a 24-port switch in the closet, and various single- and dual-port wall plates throughout the house.
  • Ridiculous (Score:2, Redundant)

    by zTTTz ( 176815 )
    This is pointless. It's a $399 four-port hub. And where is the flexibility? Hmm? At my office we ran 4-Cat5 ports to ever cubicle. That means that at the patch panel, if someone needs three network ports, cool. If someone needs two network ports, and two analog modem lines, cool. If I want to put a dumb terminal on my desk and patch it to my serial port in the server room, cool. No problem. Sooooo much flexibility.

    This gives you nothing, and unless you want to buy some expensive power over ethernet equipment you still have a power cable going from the wall to this socket. Anyone who claims this is useful is full of themselves! Concerned about a mess of cables under the desk? Excuse me but if you have a need for four Cat-5 connections at one desk, I'm assuming four computers. That means that you have a mess to start with. What is a four port hub thrown into the mix?

    This device is the logical equivalent to saying, "Instead of using surge protectors at every desk, we shall install 8 power slots in a straight row in such a configuration that a power block (for say a printer) doesn't take up three slots."

    Then you have troubleshooting. It is a lot easier to use cable testing equipment and knowing that if one of the four cat-5 cables between the patch pannel and the office magically goes out, at least we have three. If this little thing goes out, we are talking DOWN TIME until you can replace the part (might be minutes instead of just seconds like now). Any arguments?
    • Re:Ridiculous (Score:5, Informative)

      by signe ( 64498 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @05:27PM (#2633158) Homepage
      Just a couple of points of information....

      1) The list price is $140, not $399
      2) It's not a hub. It's a switch. There's a difference.

      Other than that, I somewhat agree with you. If you're working with a cabling architecture that you want to be flexible enough to be able to do other things than plain old ethernet, it's probably not a good choice for you.

      But on the other hand, if you just need 4 network ports at a location, it could be very useful. It's one less box sitting around on or under your desk. And just because you have 4 devices that need network, doesn't mean they're computers. 1 computer, 1 networked printer, 1 wireless access point, and perhaps your cable modem/DSL/whatever. Yes, sure, there are other solutions to do this (like the Linksys cable/DSL router with a 4-port hub and a WAP that I have on my desk right now), but the point is that this is another option. And it might offer a certain kind of flexibility depending on the situation. I'd actually consider it to be more useful as a home device, rather than an office device. Though it would be nice if they had the ability to power it from behind the wall.

      So it's no use to you. Doesn't mean that it's no use to everyone.

        1. The list price is $140, not $399
        2. It's not a hub. It's a switch. There's a difference.

        Yes, a switch, not a hub. Now explain to me why a person using this device, sitting in a cubicle or bedroom or office, needs a switch rather than a hub. Then explain why this person, who has several networked devices and the cables that come with them, is going to be better off with this switchplate switch rather than a typical standalone hub (or switch). The cost saving business, about not having to run four cables from a router, is silly.

        • Why a switch is often better than a hub:
          A hub is basically passive. All of the ports have to be running the same speed. A switch is active. Each port is handled independently, so you can mix 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps devices.

          While a lot of newer stuff is 100 Mbps, there's still a lot of 10 Mbps kit out there, so a switch lets you migrate as you please.
    • Re:Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MikeyNg ( 88437 ) <mikeyng AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 29, 2001 @05:27PM (#2633161) Homepage

      It's actually a four-port switch. But in today's world, switches are rather ubiquitous, so it's no big deal.

      There would be substantial cost savings when you have to pull cable. Rather than pulling four cables along, you pull just one. Also, at your floor drop, you only have one cable there and you will only be using one port. In your situation, your 4 Cat5 ports at the cubicle are using 4 Cat5 ports at your drop.

      Call me crazy, but if you were going to be setting up a new area, this would be a pretty nifty item to have. You just pull one cable. Power over Ethernet (PoE) is not THAT expensive. You're talking in the ball park of $100 or so.

      I see this product as something for new installations, not to replace what you've already got. If what's already there works, why change it? Going with these network jacks adds all kinds of room to grow. You get PoE and VoIP, as well as a four-port switch in every cubicle. That sounds pretty tasty, doesn't it?

      I also don't know what you're talking about as far as using cable testing equipment and downtime. When's the last time you had a cable go bad? Or a switch? If all four of your devices go out - it's either the uplink from that jack (one cable) or the jack itself. Consider if you have four lines and one of those goes out. Is it the cable to the panel? Is it the cable from the panel to floor drop?

      • There would be substantial cost savings when you have to pull cable. Rather than pulling four cables along, you pull just one

        The bulk of the cost in cable pulls is from the labor rather than the cable; it's no big deal to pull 4 wires instead of 1.

        • The bulk of the cost in cable pulls is from the labor rather than the cable; it's no big deal to pull 4 wires instead of 1.

          Agreed. But some companies will charge you for pulling four cables even when it's not really any harder than pulling a single cable along the same path.

        • The bulk of the cost in cable pulls is from the labor rather than the cable; it's no big deal to pull 4 wires instead of 1The article covers this by refering to contractors charging as though it was. Effectivly it's a scam to charge by number of cables rather than number of different routes...
    • Re:Ridiculous (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hyoo ( 155460 )

      I think you are being somewhat extreme about this when you say that it is ridiculous and that its useless. First off, I dont think that 3Com expects this to be deployed at any decent sized company. It's probably a better idea for SOHO, or more likely for public areas (such as schools) where a switch/hub can get stolen, and running multiple cables across campus to the main switches is impractical. Shorter cables are cheaper.

      Excuse me but if you have a need for four Cat-5 connections at one desk, I'm assuming four computers. That means that you have a mess to start with. What is a four port hub thrown into the mix?

      One possibility could be... 1-port to your broadboard modem, 1-port to your printer, 1-port to your desktop, and 1-port to your laptop. It would be nice if college dorms had things like these installed in the rooms. Having devices like these available makes it a little more practical to do such a thing.

      • or more likely for public areas (such as schools) where a switch/hub can get stolen

        Wonder if they will make a vandal resistant version, since one of these is going to be a lot more expensive to replace than a regular 4 port faceplate.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @05:18PM (#2633104) Homepage
    AS a person who just bought a new house (Ok old house, but new to me... I never lived there before) running 2-cat5e,cat3,2-RG6 cables to each outlet plate (I.E. 2 locations to each room) is not difficult by any means. Anyone can go to home-depot and buy all the parts and tools needed (Note: dont waste your money on RG6Quad shield, it offer's you nothing) to completely wire your home, in 1 weekend ALONE. no other perosn helping to pull cable. My 6 foot long drill-bit has a hole in the tip so I can drill down, wander downstairs, tie the wire on and pull it back.

    The trick is to plan your needs. the entertainment wall needs more ethernet than the bathroom (Kidding! you use wireless in there) and your office location needs even more than that.

    It's cheaper than buying several of these "switches" and gives you better lan-topology in your home.

    If I was retrofiting an existing-wired-house and didnt want to ttake the time to do it right? Sure! but I love using my rotozip to cut holes in walls and pulling wires through rafters.
    • OK - I'm doing the home wiring thing come spring. I got cat5e, cat3, and coax (cable modem, digital cable TV...).

      What's RG6, and why do I want it?

      BTW, my local home depot is carrying cat5e for about $60 for 1000ft., which was as good as I could find. They also carry a consumer-grade data-utility box, $62.98, with modules costing extra. Did you buy a utility box or build your own?

    • One of the reasons for using the RG6 quad shield coax is to prevent the leakage of CATV signals into the environment, which may cause interference with other services. This is a serious problem and the FCC has cracked down on cable systems that don't aggressively control leakage from their systems. That means if the cable company discovers that your in-house wiring is a source of leakage, they will disconnect your CATV service until you fix the problem. Don't use cheap coax for CATV distribution.
  • until the painters arrive and ruin your $300 ethernet "jacks".
  • Shared bandwidth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by crotherm ( 160925 )
    I guess no ones has noticed the obvious down side is that instead of having multiple dedicated 100Mb runs to a cube, now all the devices are going to share just one link.

    Sure, not many apps will use all 100 Mb, but that is certainly something to think about.

  • by slashdoter ( 151641 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @05:23PM (#2633132) Homepage
    Have you ever been reading an article and for no reason what so ever the server grinds to a halt? Pictures don't come up, "page can not be found" errors, and then it hits you like a ton of bricks, I bet this just made Slashdot. You click the link at the top of the your browser ( you do have a Slashdot link? Don't you?) and BAM there it is? Well that just happened to me and now I can't finish the article so suck it!
    • The butler did it.


      The switch works a bit better that the SMC 4 port that the reviever was using as a basis of comparison. Bottom line, if you like the form factor, and think that justifies the price increase, go for it.
    • Heh, but this is Tom's Hardware. They probably have more bandwidth and server horsepower than Slashdot. They've done an article or two on their servers and they occupy a couple cabinets. Same for Anandtech. Some sites just don't apply to the Slashdot effect. ;)
  • This thing would be excellent for a certain type of home office... if only it were about $70 instead. I have four computers at home: one for my fun, one for my work, one for my wife and kids, and a laptop. Honestly, I'd love the convenience of having the switch in the wall. Why is it convenience? Because then I can more easily hide all my wires. Its not a big deal, but still, it would be nice. What would make it nicer is if you could have multiple of these talking to each other wirelessly (e.g. via 802.11b). Then just stick one in each room, and voila, no wiring hassel, just plug in and enjoy.
  • by heikkile ( 111814 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @05:29PM (#2633172) Homepage
    A whole wall panel for so little. What I would like is a glorified patch cable, with two bisexual ends. Find a socket that seems to have some working equipment connected to it, disconnect, plug your cable in, and reconnect what ever it was. Plug the other end in your laptop, and also there is a free end for the next guy and his laptop. Enough "intelligence" to handle 10/100Mbit conversions in all four directions, so it makes what ever old/new equipmen fit what ever old/new network, and to adapt to the needs of straight/crossed cabling if both ends turn out to be hubs or PCs. Preferably no power needed, eating a few electrons from the signal wires, or at least a built-in battery for the next zillion years... Price wouldn't matter, as long as most everyone could afford one... Is this really too much to ask?
    • There's a 10base-T minihub [laptopproducts.com] that's sort of like this. It's only 10, not 100, and acts like a "Y" adapter. Self-powering even.
    • FYI, you've just described coaxial ethernet. Diagrams by the magic of Google! [utexas.edu]

      Coax works exactly like you describe. Each user can plug themselves in, and you can connect people downstream from yourself. But, whenever you need to disconnect, everyone downstream from you gets cut off... bummer. And, because there are so many connections, your reliability goes down pretty quickly as you wear out your plugs from constant use. Performance gets bad because in order to send information from one end of the chain to the next, you have to talk to everyone in the middle.

      So, the current system of hubs and switches was developed to get around these problems. It's technically called Star network (10BaseT) vs a Ring network (Coax, or the system you described). In a star network, it costs more to add additional ports, but each individual port works at top speed, and if one user goes down everyone else stays up. As the marketplace has voted with its dollars, it's much better.

      • Coax (10Base2) Ethernet is bus topology, not ring topology.
        Modern Ethernet is actually 'star bus' topology - logical bus, physical star.
        Token Ring is logical ring, physical star topology.
  • by Maskirovka ( 255712 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @05:36PM (#2633207)
    New Slashdot poll:
    Paypal accidently dumped $400 into your account...

    1) Four port wall mounted hub

    2) ipod with all the hacked drivers

    3) ten Oreilly books of your choice plus a free copy of Learning "Spelling" 2002

    4) Limted edition Drivers License collection on CD-ROM or DVD

    5) A night with Cowboy Neal
  • Cubicle Killing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slugfro ( 533652 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @05:40PM (#2633229) Homepage
    A lot of these replies talk about how this device is useless and they would rather just buy a regular 4-port switch. I see your point but I don't think 3Com cares if you buy this to wire your home. The article mentions working closely with cubicle manufacturers. If you work in a cube farm (and I do) you can immediately see how 3Com can make a lot of money from these.

    Step1: 3Com gets cubicle companies to build these into cubes.
    Step2: Cubicle companies build these switches into their cubes becuase they will have a nifty new feature to use in selling their cubes.
    Step3: Large companies like mine buy new cubes for slightly higher price to get this nifty must have feature.

    This seems clear to me....But my mind might be fuzzy from staring at this grey cube wall all day.
    • Well, as a cube farm dweller myself, I think this would kick butt. Saves a lot of trouble with adding hubs &c. when additional PCs become necessary - e.g. when you bring in your home laptop, or when a visitor comes to use your PC. Plus it would require much less in the way of connection between cube and LAN. So I can clearly see the value.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @05:40PM (#2633233) Homepage Journal
    Some people here are saying things like "why not just do 2 or more runs in the first place?" To that I say that if you're wiring up 50 work areas and you have the premise wiring folks already on site, go for it; it's only slightly more expensive to have them run multiple cables.

    But what happens when you have a single location that needs more Ethernet? That's the target market here. Instead of getting the premise wiring guys back on site to haul more cable, you just use this jack to fan-out more ports. Conventionally this is done using those little desktop mini-hubs, but putting it inside the wallbox instead of on the desk (or worse, on the floor beneath the desk) makes it neater and more difficult to break.
  • I don't have my O'Reilly ethernet book handy... but isn't there a limitation with the number of switches that you can cross in a network? If you had one of these at both ends, that could be two unecessary switches to consider when laying out the office back-bone.
    • No, there is a limit on the number of hubs you can have, not switches. The 5-4-3 rule is what you are thinking of, 5 network segments, 4 repeaters and only three occupied segments, but that only is in reference to hubs, not switches.

      Its got to do with the collision domain and the total time it takes to transmit something and the total time it takes to reach its destination.
  • Cost comparison??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by victim ( 30647 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @06:06PM (#2633379)
    I wonder where Tom got the numbers for the cost comparison? He has cable pulling at $300+ for each run, I pay about $120. If his cable puller is charging him quad for four wires he needs a new cable puller. It ain't rocket science. He has upstream switch ports at $90ea! I'm paying $25 each. Then he has the mystical `gigabit switch port' row.

    The maintanence/year row implies that the maintanence cost of the 3com device is zero. I would rather have something like "15% of cost"/year for it. I don't have many 4 year old hubs that haven't either died or got some blown ports. Lots of lightning around here. Its especially hard on hubs and NICs because of the ground surge differential on close strikes.

    I see no indication of either the extra cost for powered ethernet devices or the electrical work to power the 3com devices.

    The traditional wiring is costed for the worst case, where 4 ports are really active. Needing 4 ports available everywhere is not the same as needing 4 ports active everywhere. I routinely run four times the copper that I will need and activate ports as needed.

    An even better comparison would have been to compare the 3com wall jack hub to a free standing hub. But then the 3com would not have looked so good.

    It's a shame 3com didn't have these during the dotcom boom. They could have sold dumptruck loads of them. Now? I doubt it.
    • Not only that, but the performance testing was done with only one computer pushing data.

      I bought a cheap switch, as I figured that it would have a sufficient "back plane" to push data for more than one connection at a time. Wrong. The D-link DSS-8+ is the only (consumer level) switch that I have seen that reports to having a 1.6GB back plane (enough to handle all ports in full duplex mode). Guess what's on my Christmas list this year.

      What kind of a back plane does this switch have? How much of a hit (and how many collisions are going to be introduced into my netowrk) if more than one computer is passing traffic through this thing.

      It was nice of 3Com to personalize this thing for the reviewer. It seems to have saved them from a serious testing.
  • by ErikTheRed ( 162431 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @06:35PM (#2633538) Homepage
    One item that I did not see addressed is whether or not it passes on the 802.3af Power Over Ethernet to the devices attached to the switch. Some of my customers use IP Phones, and this would be extra-sweet for them (the company won't authorize purchase of 802.3af power sources for the phones, but they might use these jacks when they move their offices...).
    • You should have read the article a bit closer. From Page 2: [tomshardware.com]

      Although the NJ100 can be powered by a local AC adapter, the NJ100's "Power-Over-Ethernet" option is a feature that really provides additional value. The NJ100 supports IEEE 802.3af Power-Over-Ethernet standards, which allows you to power the NJ100s from wiring closets, rather than locally. 3Com also offers a Power-Over-Ethernet Midspan Solution, which can add Power-Over-Ethernet capabilities from one to twenty-four ports, using the IEEE 802.3af standard. Of course, this feature isn't included, but can be purchased at additional cost.

      • I saw that, but even there it just says that the integrated switch is powered by 802.3af; it doesn't explicitly say that the power is passed on to downstream devices.

        Another interesting question (albeit somewhat offtopic): Does anyone know of a good 802.3af power source that doesn't cost an arm and a freaking leg? All of the devices I have found from 3Com, Cisco, Avaya, etc., require you to be an "authorized reseller" to purchase them from a distributor, which really keeps the street prices pumped up.
  • I dislike the idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    by macdaddy ( 38372 )
    Note, I haven't read the article yet. I haven't had time.

    I dislike the idea of replacing or supplimenting workgroup switches with these wall plate things. Does this switch support 802.1Q or 802.1D and things of that nature? Can software upgrades be preformed on these things? Is the thing manageable at all? If not, port-based VLANs are out the window. Switching off a port for security reasons is also out the window. Basic administrative tasks could be greatly inhibited or prohibited if this device has little managment capabilities or none at all. I see people jumping at this idea and embracing it as the next great thing. They did this to 802.11B too. These are also the type of people think wireless is a replace for a wired connection. It is not a replacement for a wired connection. It's convienent for laptops, kioks, printers in odd places, dynamically changing rooms like temporary cubical farms, and PDA access. It can not replace a wired connection for a desktop. So many basic network administrative tasks are inhibited by wireless connections. Most people don't realize it because the extent of their networking ability is buying a 4 port hub and plugging in purchased cables. Perhaps they know how use a crimper and can pull a little wire between rooms. They still don't do the network tasks that a network admin like myself have to do. They just see it as a easier way to connect things together. bad bad bad

  • High end homes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ian Peon ( 232360 )
    I work for a small company that designs whole house systems (Audio/ Video/ Network/ Security/ Climate/ Control) for people with way too much money (Our clients don't cringe at throwing $100,000 at a home theater).

    Often times, AFTER all the wire is pulled, our clients will decide that they actually want 4 ports out of a wall plate instead of 2, AND they DON'T want a local Hub/Switch that takes up room. This would be a quick, neat and tidy solution for just those situations - IF it works well, we'll probably sell about 1 a month.

  • by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @07:23PM (#2633805) Homepage Journal
    Ahhh... I never thought I'd see the day when the RJ11 phone jack is the "Legacy Voice" jack!

    This looks pretty sweet... I hope my next apartment comes pre-wired. =)
  • Silly ping times (Score:3, Informative)

    by jiminim ( 104910 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:46PM (#2634156) Homepage
    At least one of the comparisons THG ran on the switches is completely useless.

    Isn't it great that both of the switches can ping with 100 bytes of data at 1ms?

    Wonder why it was always the same?

    The ping included with MS OS's AFAIK can only report times equal or greater than 1ms. This is a great troubleshooter when you are pinging MIT from California but if you are pinging across just one switch, a 1ms time is horrible.

    I get a 456us (.456ms) ping time, using 100 bytes, across an ancient 10Mbit HUB!!!

    Of course I am using ping from iputils-20001110. This is not a MS bashing post, only a wish that THG would use meaningful tests sometimes.
  • Looks pretty nifty (Score:2, Insightful)

    by brett42 ( 79648 )
    I wish I had one of these last summer. I was helping my college's tech depatment wire some classrooms and I spent way too much time under desks with a punch-down tool.

    Considering where it's located though, it would probably be cheaper and easier if it was just an unpowered hub instead of a switch. A cubicle with around four devices doesn't really need it's own switch.
  • Actually I'd really like this if it were managed and could do QoS.

    I've never been fond of leaving open ports around (security issues) and these things just spread the lovin' a bit too much. It wouldn't be such a problem if my Coms folks could turn off officially unused ports, identify what is plugged into each used port, collect traffic rates, etc. Heck it'd be great if the HelpDesk folks could remote the box and see if something is plugged into #3 and what speed is it, is it showing green.

    I'd also be worried about the day everything bursty goes at once and that too-kewl VOIP gets starved. I really don't care if the printer gets stuck at some low packet rate but I do care about other types and some built-in QoS support (even if depending on 3Com hardware at the other end) would be useful.

    Mebbe in Rev. B.

  • WTF was this alleged "computer geek" smoking??
    The article states:
    "The NJ100 also includes a connect light, as well as a power light on the jack plate itself. Both lights are small and don't blink. This is good, because you don't want something neon bright blinking under your users' desks."

    Says who? Hell YES we want stuff blinking! Doesn't this fool realize that the more blinkylites you have, the cooler you are?


    *shakes head* It's so simple....

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll