How to connect more devices to your network
Users with access to broadband are finding new ways to utilise that high-speed connection. Apart from your computer there are now a number of products which can take advantage of a connection to the internet.
Not all of these products are Wi-Fi compatible and need a physical connection via their built-in Ethernet port. Even some Wi-Fi products work faster and more reliably with a physical connection.
Connecting a router to a modem achieves two things – it creates a wireless LAN (local area network) and provides usually four extra Ethernet ports.
But for many users that still isn’t enough connections.
Apart from a computer other products that can be connected to a broadband connection include Blu-ray players, gaming consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Tivo and other digital set top box recorders, AV receivers, Apple TV, internet radios, printers and network drives.
The way to increase the number of network connections is with a network switch.
Think of a consumer network switch like a powerboard that can turn one powerpoint connection into many. In this case it can turn one Ethernet port on the back of a router into 5, 8 or 16 more ports and more ways to transfer data at high speed.
Network switches also require their own power source so, apart from connecting to a router with an Ethernet cable, they also need a power point.
Other products are connected to the vacant ports on the network switch with an Ethernet cable to the Ethernet port on the rear of the product.
A Blu-ray player needs a connection to enable BD Live features which are retrieved from the internet as well as to download software updates for the device.
Online gamers swear by a wired connection over Wi-Fi which can provide the extra speed and split-second difference which can mean the difference between winning and losing.
Set top boxes like TiVo use the internet connection to download updates and the changes to the EPG (electronic program guide) while AV receivers can allow users to access content from computers and network hard drives within a network and internet radio via its broadband connectivity.
A network switch costs is also available in two speeds – 100Mbps, labelled as a 10/100 switch, or a Gigabit which is 10 times faster.
Pricing on network switches depends of the switch and the number of ports available.