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Insights & Definitions

Brands help you identify specific solutions that you will or will not consider. Brand is also a good indication of whether the product is focused on business users or consumers.

The number of solutions that a vendor has within a specific product category can indicate their commitment to, and corresponding success in, that market.

Another indication of vendor quality can be articles written and videos produced about specific products (use the "Articles & Videos" link on this page). Generally, such reviews are only provided for market leaders.

Quantity is the leading reason for vendors to discount their pricing. Quantity discounts are available to the pricing shown on the left. Enter the quantity you need here.

Price can be an indication of quality and value. Any vendor that charges more for a product than the marketplace is willing to pay will not remain in business, or at least in that market, for very long.

The price actually paid for a product is usually driven by available budget, but specific feature requirements can sometimes command a higher price.

Minimum Rating

Ratings have become very important in product and service evaluation. They can help you avoid a bad choice or they can eliminate any potential doubts you may have and help you with your selection.

Currently about 61% of prospective buyers check for ratings and read online reviews (use the "Articles & Videos" link on this page) before making a purchase decision.

Many products have no ratings. Products without ratings generally mean either the product is relatively new or has not gained much traction in the marketplace. Although, that should not necessarily disqualify a solution from consideration.

Ethernet Technology
Ethernet Technology

Ethernet is a local area network (LAN) technology. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created the standard which they call 802.3. An Ethernet LAN typically connects via special grades of copper wires or by fiber optics.

Network Switches usually have an Ethernet port or ports to connect them to the local area network (LAN) and may also be used to connect to the wide area network (WAN) through a broadband device. The speed of those connections are determined by the type of Ethernet connection used. Those types are:

Ethernet, also known as 10BASE-T, which provides transmission speeds up to 10 Mbps.

Fast Ethernet, or 100BASE-T, provides faster transmission speeds up to 100 megabits per second.

Gigabit Ethernet, or 1000BASE-T, provides an even faster transmission speeds up to 1000 megabits per second (1 gigabit or 1 billion bits per second).

10-Gigabit Ethernet provides still faster transmission speeds up to 10 billion bits per second.

40-Gigabit Ethernet provides transmission speeds up to 40 billion bits per second. The 40GbE standard is intended for local server connectivity.

100-Gigabit Ethernet is currently the fastest commercially available version which provides up to 100 billion bits per second. The 100GbE is intended for Internet backbones.

Network Layer Supported
Network Layer Supported

The Open System Interconnection or OSI, model defines a method to implement network protocols in seven layers. Control is passed from one layer to the next, starting at the Application Layer (Layer 7), and proceeding down to the Physical Layer (Layer 1). When a product is described by a Layer, it refers to the highest level of which the product is capable. So a Layer 3 switch is capable of Layers 1 through 3. In switching, a higher Layer generally indicates additional capability.

Layer 2 is the Data Link Layer. This is the basic packet switching layer. At this layer, data packets are encoded and decoded into bits. It furnishes transmission protocol knowledge and management and handles errors in the physical layer, flow control and frame synchronization. Layer 2 Data Link examples include PPP, FDDI, ATM, IEEE 802.5/ 802.2, IEEE 802.3/802.2, HDLC, Frame Relay.

Layer 3 is the Network Layer. This layer provides routing technologies, creating logical paths, known as virtual circuits, for transmitting data from node to node. Routing and forwarding are functions of this layer, as well as addressing, internetworking, error handling, congestion control and packet sequencing. Layer 3 Network examples include AppleTalk DDP, IP, IPX.

Layer 4 is the Transport Layer. This layer provides transparent transfer of data between end systems, or hosts, and is responsible for end-to-end error recovery and flow control. It ensures complete data transfer. Layer 4 Transport examples include SPX, TCP, UDP.

Layer 7 is the Application Layer. This layer supports application and end-user processes. Quality of service is identified, while authentication and privacy are considered. Everything at this layer is application-specific. This layer provides application services for file transfers, e-mail, and other network software services. Layer 7 Application examples include WWW browsers, NFS, SNMP, Telnet, HTTP, FTP.

Network (RJ-45) Ports
Network (RJ-45) Ports

Network Ports are physical Ethernet ports that connect to either the LAN (Local Area Network) or a WAN (Wide Area Network). Also known network links, typically these ports allow connecting cables to computers, network switches, broadband devices, and other peripherals.

When a router has multiple Network Ports, it can eliminate the need for an external Ethernet switch. Or, for larger networks, they can be used to cascade connectivity to multiple Ethernet switches.

PoE (RJ-45) Ports
PoE (RJ-45) Ports

Power over Ethernet (PoE) ports are Network Ports with the additional capability of providing electrical power to an end device over the data cables rather than by power cords. External devices, which must also be PoE compliant, commonly powered this way include wireless access points and VoIP telephones.

When a switch has multiple PoE Ports, it means that it can power that many external devices.


Managed network switches are remotely accessible and allow things such as turning ports on or off. Managed switches usually have more capability than unmanaged switches. They generally offer SNMP for monitoring the status of connections and other advanced features like QOS, VLAN, etc.

Unmanaged - An unmanaged switch simply allows Ethernet devices to communicate with one another, such as a PC or network printer, and those are typically what we call "plug and play." They are shipped with a fixed configuration and do not allow any changes to this configuration.

Wall Mount
Rack Mount
Compatible Rack Unit
Compatible Rack Unit

Energy Star Certified
Energy Star Certified

Energy Star is a voluntary standard for energy efficient consumer products that originated in the United States in 1992. Since then, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the European Union have adopted the program.

It was created to help businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency. Although it began as a way to cut down on the energy drain from computers, it now covers more than 50 product categories. Devices that carry the Energy Star service mark generally use 20–30% less energy than required by U.S. federal standards.

For more information on the Green movement, be sure to visit our Go Green guide here.


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