From a special edition smartphone to a walkie-talkie and an activity tracker, here's what our reviewers got their hands on during December.
Caption by: Kelvyn Taylor
Although this eight-port Gigabit switch might seem pricey, when you add in management capability, eight PoE ports and two Gigabit SFP slots for fibre modules, it starts to sound a lot more attractive.
The GS110TP is an entry-level offering in Netgear's range of ProSafe 'smart' switches, which are intended to bridge the gap between commodity unmanaged models and expensive managed devices. The target buyers are smaller businesses looking for some decent security and traffic-management capabilities, but who are unwilling or unable to invest in the infrastructure needed for a fully-managed network.
The GS110TP is a neat, small metal-clad box with everything mounted at the front. It can be wall-mounted using two supplied screws, or used on a desktop by sticking on the rubber feet. The fanless design makes it silent, but it does get quite warm. The DC power inlet is at the rear, along with an earthing point and Kensington lock slot.
The GS110TP's Java-based web management interface
Of course, it doesn't need to be managed at all: take the switch out of the box, plug it in and it functions very happily in 'dumb' mode, and for many users this is likely to be the way it's used at first. But to take full advantage of its features you'll need to fire up the Java-based web management interface. You can also use the supplied Smart Control Center application to discover and perform basic maintenance (such as firmware upgrades or configuration backups) on multiple Netgear switches. The switch has dual firmware support.
Although the menus are clearly laid out in tabs, configuration isn't particularly intuitive, and if you're new to the delights of advanced switching it's easy to get lost. Even experts will find it a little quirky in places, and some icons and drop-down arrows only add to the frustration. Fortunately, the contextual help, documentation and online knowledge base are — as usual with Netgear — excellent resources for any level of user. Additionally, a very handy feature for a quick status overview is Device View. This loads a live interactive picture of the front of the switch, allowing you to right-click on each port to bring up a quick-access configuration menu.
The Smart Center application lets you discover and perform basic maintenance tasks
One of the common drivers for adding a smart switch is to implement QoS, and the GS110TP supports both CoS and Diffserv. For easy VoIP use, the Auto-VoIP feature automatically prioritises SIP, H.323, SCCP and MGCP traffic. This can be enabled per-port or globally. An Auto-Video feature simplifies creating IGMP Snooping settings for multicast traffic.
There's an ACL Wizard for configuring permit/deny rules for MAC or IP-based ACLs, but you'll need to create the ACLs manually first. A step-by-step configuration example for ACLs can be found in the appendices of the manual, along with some other tricky concepts such as implementing Diffserv and using 802.1x port authentication to create a guest VLAN in conjunction with a RADIUS server.
Last, but certainly not least, the PoE capability is a big attraction for small businesses at this price point, with each port capable of providing 15W of power (up to a maximum of 46W in total). This is ample for powering a handful of IP cameras, VoIP phones or wireless access points. The power to each port can be limited manually via the web interface, and there's a status light on each port plus a separate LED to indicate when maximum PoE power is exceeded or close to the limit.
The GS110TP also incorporates Netgear’s Green Ethernet features, powering down inactive ports and reducing power to cables shorter than 10m. This switch is a worthy contender for the attention of smaller businesses, offering both advanced manageability and PoE capabilities at a very reasonable price.
Caption by: Kelvyn Taylor