ASUS RP-AC56 Dual-Band Wireless AC1200 Range Extender Review

Introduction


When you invest in a wireless network repeater in order to increase your range and cover dead spots in your home, you can either go for a run-of-the-mill unit that provides you with the basic functionality or you can go all out and get a device like ASUS’ RP-AC56 wireless dual-band AC1200 range extender and access point. The ASUS RP-AC56 is anything but ordinary and today I’ll take a closer look at everything this little device has to offer.

The ASUS RP-AC56 can extend your existing 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi network with speeds up to 1167 Mbps and thanks to its two external antennas it will have a great ability to enhance Wi-Fi signal coverage and boost your Wi-Fi everywhere. But it does a lot more than that, it also comes with a Gigabit Ethernet LAN port for even more connectivity as well as a 3.5mm audio jack for music streaming.

The dual-band repeater supports both the legacy 2.4GHz band and the newer 5GHz band for AC1200 speeds. The two external antennas support MIMO for the best connection even when multiple devices use it at the same time. With speeds up to 867 Mbps on the 5GHz band you can get close to what a wire connection has to offer, at least with the proper signal strength and isn’t that just the reason that we want a device such as the RP-AC56.

ASUS made sure that the setup is as easy as it can be, all it takes is a push of a button thanks the easy WPS setup. Hit the button on your router and then on the repeater, wait for a little bit, and the connection will be established. And that really is all you need to do, but you can do more. The LEDs on the front don’t just show which network band is being used, they also show the signal strength in three steps (Red, Yellow, Green) which in return allows you to find the perfect position for maximum coverage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uf-0m-BMyo0

As previously mentioned, the RP-AS56 comes with a convenient Gigabit Ethernet LAN port built-in and the function of it depends on the usage of the RP-AC56. The flexibly designed device can work as a normal repeater, but it can also work as a wireless access point or as a media bridge. In access point mode it can be connected to any wired network and create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot. In media bridge mode it can be connected to any Ethernet-compatible device to give it Wi-Fi capability where it didn’t before.

The LAN port can also be used for easy access to the web-based configuration menu without the need for any driver disc or application, but it isn’t something that is needed. You can naturally also set it up wirelessly from devices such as your tablet or smartphone.

You can also connect speakers directly to the RP-AC56 wireless repeater and stream your favorite music direct from any mobile device that has the ASUS AiPlayer app installed. It is compatible with a wide range of multimedia formats and delivers a smooth and effortless streaming experience. The AiPlayer app is available from the App Store and Google Play and it also works for streaming without extra software when used from a Mac and iOS device.

Additionally, the RP-AC56 also supports ASUS’ ExpressWay feature that uses the dual-band capabilities to create an efficient connection with improved reliability. In normal mode, the repeater uses the two bands simultaneously for connecting to devices for the widest compatibility. ExpressWay can dedicate one band for connecting to the router and the other band for connecting to the device as long as one of them supports the 5GHz band. It also features the hassle-free Roaming Assist technology. With this enabled, you never have to switch connections manually between RP-AC56 and your ASUS router as you move around the home. Your device will connect automatically to the strongest Wi-Fi signal whether it’s from the router or the repeater.

Features

  • Extend your existing 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi network with speeds up to 1167 Mbps.
  • Two external antennas enhance Wi-Fi signal coverage and boost your Wi-Fi everywhere.
  • Quick and secure setup with just a press of the WPS button.
  • Smart LED signal indicator helps you find the best location for optimum Wi-Fi performance.
  • Rotating mains plug for flexible positioning in any power socket. (Not in all regions)
  • ASUS AiPlayer app for streaming music, with multi-protocol support.
  • ASUS ExpressWay uses full-speed device connections to boost performance.
  • Roaming Assist helps you to get a stable connection everywhere in the home or office.

Packaging and Accessories

The ASUS RP-AC56 comes in a great looking retail box that shows how the device looks on the front where it also shows the main features and highlights the Android and iOS support.

The rear of the box explains what the device does and how you can utilize it. It also showcases the AiPlayer for wireless streaming and more details on the features. Overall it’s a great box where you shouldn’t be left with any questions as to what the device you’re holding in your hands can do.

Inside the box, we find a quick start guide and ASUS VIP Member Warranty Notice in multiple languages as well as a 3.5mm audio cable to connect the repeater to an amplifier or speaker set.

SilverStone Releases USB 3.1 Type-C LAN and HDMI Adapters

One of the downsides with compact mobile devices such as two-in-one, ultrabooks, and tablets is the lack of connection ability. They all have a USB connection, but beyond that, it is very limited. Luckily you can do a lot with adapters and SilverStone just released two new USB 3.1 Type-C adapters where the one adds a Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 network port and the other adds an HDMI port that’s capable of 4K video output.

The first of the two new SilverStone USB 3.1 Type-C adapters is the EP05 and it is a compact Gigabit Ethernet network adapter in beautiful all white colored design. The adapter uses the Realtek RTL8153 chipset which offers TCP Offload Engine and it also supports advanced IEEE features such as 802.1Q VLAN tagging and 802.3az among others. The Realtek chipset offers both normal Wake On LAN (WOL) as well as RealWoW that allows you to wake your system over the internet too.

The EP05 would be a great addition to notebook computers such as MacBooks that do not have network port at all on their own. Naturally it is downwards compatible all the way to 10Mbps and USB 1.1 connections and it works driverless on Windows 8 or newer systems. Windows 7 and earlier will need to download and install drivers first.

The second new SilverStone USB 3.1 Type-C adapter is called the EP07 and it provides you with an easy way to add an extra HDMI port to your system. The SilverStone EP07 doesn’t just support USB 3.1 input and HDMI output, it also supports flexible USB 3.1 Type-C switching for DP 1.2 Alt Mode.

The EP07 Supports HDMI 1.4 and also former versions for older devices, but sadly no official HDMI 2.0 support. That doesn’t mean that you can’t connect a HDMI 2.0 display to it, you just don’t get the advantages. It supports content protection of HDCP Rx and Tx keys and it can display resolution up to 3840 x 2160 pixels at 30Hz with DP1.2 in SST mode.

 

Both SilverStone adapters work without extra power input which makes them highly portable. They don’t weigh much either, which always is a great feature in accessories for mobile devices.

Both the SilverStone EP05 and EP07 adapter will be available next week for a recommended end user price of $18.15 USD for the EP05 and $22.11 USD for the EP07 (excl. VAT).

 

ASUS Surprises with XG-D2008 10Gbps Switch for Home Users

This one came quite as a surprise for me, but it is a very positive surprise as ASUS unveiled one of the first, if not the first, 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches designed for home users. We have long moved away from the slow mechanical storage drives and some people like me even moved on to something as crazy as NVMe drives in RAID setup. With that in mind, a Gigabit Ethernet connection becomes the biggest bottleneck in your system with a speed of around 120-125MB/s max. Even when you use link aggregation, you won’t be able to support these kinds of speeds.

ASUS’s new 10Gbps Switch is called the XG-D2008 and now that we’re starting to see the entry of 10 Gigabit Ethernet for home users, although mostly enthusiast users for now, it comes a little bit as a surprise to me that it is ASUS leading the front here. When we saw the NAS manufacturer Synology enter the router market last year, I figured that it just was a matter of time until they expanded into switches too. ASUS does however have a big experience in pretty much any field, so it doesn’t come as that big of a surprise after all, that they release a product like this.

Right now the information about the switch is very limited, but I really do like what I see. The design of the XG-D2008 is beautiful in what appears to be a unibody structure of aluminium with a brushed finish. The device is very simple and will blend well into any environment. While the port amount wasn’t revealed as such, we see the 8 in the name and can count 8 LEDs for LAN ports on the image, making it an 8-port switch.

The plug-and-play description points towards an unmanaged switch, although there still could be a user interface at the same time. We will make sure to update you with more information as they become available and hopefully also be able to bring you a review of this new 10 Gigabit Ethernet Switch with an enterprise-level performance yet a mainstream price tag.

D-Link DXS-1210-12TC 12-Port 10GBASE-T Switch Review

Introduction


As a review site, we need to keep our testing equipment above or at least on the same level as the hardware that we test in order to provide you with relevant reviews and in that regards we’ve just upgraded our network test are with new 10 Gbps equipment. Among the new devices is the D-Link DXS-1210-12TC 10 Gigabit Ethernet Smart Switch that I’m taking a closer look at today.

In order to test this switch I need two systems with 10 Gbps capabilities and four CAT7 cables and below you see all but the one network card as that is onboard in one of my test systems. In my opinion, we have been stuck at Gigabit level for way too long and 10 Gigabit Ethernet is slowly starting to make an entry. It is starting to become more affordable which allows SMBs and enthusiasts to enter an area of the market that previously was limited to enterprise and large corporations.

D-Link’s DXS-1210 series is composed of several 10 Gigabit Ethernet Smart Switches and they are a cost-effective 10 solution capable of servicing a wide range of network needs in any business. Some of the switches in the series focus primarily on SFP+ connections which aren’t optimal for my test scenario. I still test a lot of normal Gigabit equipment and my switch needs to stay compatible to those. Luckily D-Link also has this one with eight 10GBASE-T RJ45 ports and two 10Gbps SFP+ ports. Additionally, since it has two combo ports for use with either RJ45 or SFP+ connections.

The DXS-1210-12TC uses a default 19″ rack format which makes it easy to deploy in server cases and D-Link also included rubber feet in case you should run in placed on a desk or shelve somewhere. The 10GBASE-T copper ports utilize RJ45 interfaces and support 10 Gigabit speeds over CAT6a/CAT7 LAN cabling for up to 100m. That makes it easy to deploy no matter how far apart your systems are. The 10GbE fiber ports can be connected to other 10GbE ports with low-cost Direct Attach Copper (DAC) cables or with SFP+ optical transceivers over multimode or single mode fiber optic cabling.

D-Link made sure that there’s plenty of overhead when it comes to transmission capabilities in the DXS-1210-12TC. It is capable of up to 240Gbps switching capacity, double what is needed, and has a maximum packet forwarding rate of 178.56 Mpps.

A device like this will naturally consume quite a bit of electricity as it has to perform flawlessly at any time and needs the power to do so, but D-Link applied their Green technologies in order to improve on this area without sacrificing operational performance or functionality. The DXS-1210-12TC features smart fans that don’t run at full speed when it isn’t needed, internal heat sensors that monitor and detect temperature changes in order to adjust the fans. The switch can also toggle ports into sleep mode automatically and it is built with hardware parts that in themselves are energy-efficient. The DXS-1210-12TC will still draw between 42.65 watts in standby mode and up to a maximum of 90.81 watts.

Feature wise you’ll find anything you’ll want in a smart switch starting with a complete lineup of L2 features. The DXS-1210-12TC supports port mirroring, Spanning Tree Protocol, and Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP). DXS-1210 switches also support Auto Surveillance VLAN (ASV), and Auto Voice VLAN, which are best suited for VoIP and video surveillance deployments. The DSCP markings on Ethernet packets enable different levels of service to be assigned to network traffic. As a result, these voice and video packets take precedence over other packets. In addition, with bandwidth control, network administrators can reserve bandwidth for important functions that require a larger bandwidth or might have high priority.

The DXS-1210 series also features an extensive list of safeguards against traffic flooding and other malicious attacks. It supports 802.1X port and host-based authentication as well as external RADIUS server authentication. It also features Access Control List (ACL) for enhanced network security as well as ARP spoofing prevention. The DHCP server screening feature can also detect rogue DHCP server packets from user ports in order to prevent unauthorized IP assignment.

 

Maintenance is an easy job when it comes to the DXS-1210-12TC smart switch where it also features a few extra functions to make the admins life easier. It includes loopback detection which is used to detect loops created by a specific port and automatically shut down the affected port. There is also a cable diagnostic feature that’s primarily designed to rapidly discover errors and determine a cable’s quality.

The switch has a smart discovery protocol built in which makes it easy to set up and manage through D-Link’s Network Assistant Utility and it will detect all switches within the same L2 network. This allows extensive switch configuration and basic setup of discovered devices, including password changes and firmware upgrades. The switch also supports D-View 7 and Command Line Interface (CLI) through Telnet. D-View 7 is a network management system that allows for the central management of critical network characteristics such as availability, reliability, resilience, and security.

Feature Highlights

  • Green Technology
    • Power saving via the following features: Link Status detection, LED Shut-Off, Port Shut-Off, System Hibernation
  • Security Features
    • Access Control List
    • IP-MAC-Port Binding
    • Clientless MAC/Web access control
    • D-Link Safeguard Engine
    • Port Security
    • ARP Spoofing Prevention
  • Intuitive Management
    • D-Link Network Assistant Utility or Web-based GUI
    • CLI through Telnet
  • Advanced Features
    • Auto Surveillance VLAN
    • Loopback Detection
    • Cable Diagnostics
    • Static Route
    • LLDP/LLDP-MED
    • Auto Voice VLAN

Package and Accessories

Equipment like the D-Link DXS-1210-12TC smart switch doesn’t need a fancy package, it is what is inside that matters.

There is a small sticker in one corner of the box that shows what is inside and the feature highlights.

Inside the box are several leaflets about security and conformity as well as a Getting Started Guide and a Driver and Manual disk.

Included is a mounting system for use as a 19″ rack unit as well as four small rubber feet for those who wish to use it placed on a surface. Screws for the 19″ mounts are included too and so is a cable tie system for the power cord. You wouldn’t want to jank that out by accident.

Naturally there’s also a power cable for the region where you purchased the switch. The switch supports from 110V to 240V, so the only difference here is the plug on one end.

Innodisk Introduces M.2 Module Network Adapters

You might know Innodisk as a storage and memory manufacturer, but that isn’t the only thing that this company creates. They also produce a lot of embedded solutions and modules and the newest in this range is also a world’s first: A new M.2 form factor Single and Dual Gigabit Ethernet Module that doesn’t require extra drivers.

The single port module is called the EGUL-G101 and the dual port module that supports port trunking and link aggregation is called the EGUL-G201. The modules are built-in a 22×60 (60mm long) form factor which could be an issue with some boards that only take 2280 modules, however, newer boards take 40, 60, and 80mm modules.

The EGUL modules use the USB 3.0 standard that provides up to 5Gb/s throughput, plenty for even the dual EGUL-201 that only needs 2Gb/s. Unlike PCI-express based network cards, the EGUL modules can be used on both Windows and Linux platforms without the need for extra drivers and provide flexible network expansion for all kinds of embedded systems.

The modules use an industrial grade design, suitable for use in commercial systems. The EGUL-G101 and EGUL-G201 are built with strong electrical isolation and 30 micro-inch gold interface connectors for a robust connection. The ethernet modules feature 15kV ESD, 2kV HiPot and 2kV surge protection, preventing electrical damage to the system and connected components from potential differences or dirty electrical conditions while also maintaining signal integrity.

There are multiple daughterboards available, allowing you to set the actual RJ45 ports where you need them and where your case or rack allows you to mount them.

The new EGUL-G101 and EGUL-G201 modules should be available now, meaning they will arrive at resellers very shortly. It is really nice to see some available options in the M.2 form factor that previously was known as the next-generation form factor (NGFF). For a next generation, there have been way too few options for too long.

Features

  • Single/Dual isolated GbE LAN ports
  • Complies with EN61000-4-5 2kV Surge protection
  • Complies with IEC 60950-1:2005 + A1: 2009 + A2:2013 2kV HiPOT protection
  • Complies with EN61000-4-2 (ESD) Air-15kV, Contact-8kV
  • Flexible daughter board with cable to fit into different system
  • Optional terminal mounting hole or bracket for daughter board
  • Support native CDC-ECM driver in Linux
  • Support driver auto-install mode in Windows
  • 30µ ” golden finger, 3 years warranty
  • Industrial design, manufactured in Innodisk Taiwan

Tenda A301 Wireless N300 Universal Range Extender Review

Introduction


Wireless networks are great and they allow us to enjoy the world with fewer cables and restraints, but they still pose a very real limitation and that is the range. There are several ways that you can combat this and increase range, coverage, and performance and one of them is through Wireless Range Extenders. Today I’m taking a closer look at Tenda’s A301 Wireless N300 Universal  Range Extender that is a solution for just such a scenario.

The Tenda A301 wireless N300 Universal Range Extender is designed to optimize and extend your existing wireless network to the furthest corner of your home. It delivers transmission rates up to 300Mbps, it features a wall-mounted design, smart signal indicators, and two external antennas.

The plug design allows you to place the Tenda A301 directly in any power outlet and enhance your wireless signals from there on. Whether your home is too big for your current routers coverage or you’ll want to enjoy your WiFi in the garden or on the porch, a range extender is a good idea.

You are already half way done with the setup when you have plugged the A301 range extender into a wall socket or extension cord. The built-in WPS button is the only thing that’s left to press once it’s ready. You’ll have to press the WPS button on your router first tho, but the setup guide explains all that in case you don’t already know it.

Tenda also included a manual setup option for the rare instances where the WPS should fail or your router doesn’t feature a WPS button and function. The sticker on the rear of the unit will tell you how to connect to the setup interface where you manually can connect it to your WiFi network as well as define various settings.

Tenda also added an LAN port to the bottom of the A301 and that allows you to extend the functionality of the device even more. For example, you could have a PC system located at the far end of your home that doesn’t have any wireless network card. Running a cable that far could be troublesome for several reasons and with the A301, you don’t need to.

Connect the PC’s LAN port to the A301’s LAN port and the system is connected to your wireless network without any further setup. For the PC, it is seen as a normal wired connection and the Tenda A301 takes care or the rest.

The Tenda A301 will work fine with any standard WiFi router and is capable of HD video streaming and gaming alike. I would, however, say that it’s mostly for web surfing due to the older standards used. The wireless range extender is using the 2.4GHz band and it is compatible with 802.11 b, g, and n devices. With just 300 Mbps at our disposal with maximum coverage, the N300 standard surely isn’t the fastest.

The WPS button is located directly on the front and it is surrounded by an LED field with four sections. The LEDs have two colours to show more details and are easy to recognize. It will show whether it has power, is connecting, how good the wireless signal is and also show when the LAN port is being used.

The two external antennas help with a better coverage over those who only have internal antennas. You can angle them up to 90 degrees, but they can’t be turned nor replaced with aftermarket antennas. It would have been nice if that would have been possible too.

The wireless performance of the A301 is rated for a max EIRP to route of 58mW and max EIRP to device of 98mW. The range is rated for up to 100 meters indoor and up to 300 meters outdoors. It is compatible with 64 and 128-bit WEP, WPA, WPA2, Mix WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK wireless encryptions of AES, TKIP, and TKIP&AES types. Wireless Access Control is also included and so is MAC filtering.

Features

  • Wireless transmission rate up to 300Mbps
  • Compatible with 802.11b/g/n devices
  • Supports WEP, WPA, and WPA2 encryption mechanism to enhance security level
  • Wall-mounted design makes it easy to deploy and move flexibly
  • 2 External antennas & Range Extender Mode boost WiFi to backyard, porches, and garage
  • Smart Signal Indicator helps to find the most accurate location to place the range extender
  • Easily expand wireless coverage at a push of Range Extender button

Packaging and Accessories

The Tenda A301 comes in a small packaging that shows the basic information such as product name and image as well as transfer speeds on the front. We also see the Broadcom logo indicating that it uses one of their chips on the insides.

The rear of the package explains how easy it is to set up and you can also see which plug version it is at the bottom. Make sure you get the right one for your location or it might not fit into your outlets, at least not without adapters.

Inside the package is an install guide, wireless declaration an LAN cable and a small disk with a PDF version of the manual.

Tenda TEG1210P 10-Port Gigabit Ethernet Intelligent PoE Switch Review

Introduction


Tenda was founded back in 1999 and has since created some great networking products. We’ve tested a few already and it’s a pleasure for me to take a closer look at the Tenda TEG1210P WebSmart Gigabit PoE Switch that comes with 8 Gbit RJ45 ports and two additional Gigabit SFP ports.

A switch doesn’t equal a switch. Although most people can make do with what any cheap switch, a lot of us want more. More control, more features, and more possibilities and that is what smart switches bring to the table.

The TEG1210P supports port mirroring, port bandwidth control, port traffic statistics and power save mode, and more. It is user-friendly and works as plug-and-play without the need for configuration.

The switch is only 210mm deep and will easily fit into any 19-inch rackmount that you might have. It comes with mounting brackets and screws for that as well as four rubber feet with adhesive in case you want to use it as a desktop model.

The rear side only features a power plug for 100-240V and a power switch to turn the switch off. The power switch is a nice feature in an office environments where you don’t need it all the time and it is something my own current switch is missing and that I’m missing on it.

On the bottom we can clearly see the four markings where you the feet for desktop use are placed. You’ll also find a sticker with details on the router.

Tenda added two 40mm fans to keep the unit cool by sucking the air in on one side and blowing it out on the other, thereby creating an air flow through the entire unit.

The eight RJ45 ports support 10/100/1000Mbps connections as well as 802af PoE with 15.4W per port. There are two more ports, but these are SFP MiniGBIC with a speed of 1000Mbps and automatic switching between metallic and optical interface. The SFP ports allow you to easily extend the range of your network from 100meters to over 80 kilometers.

The LEDs on the front of the switch will let you know what is going on. There is Link/Act, Speed, and PoE LEDs for the eight RJ45 ports as well as LEDs for the two SFP, Power, and System. The reset switch is hidden between the Power and SYS LED.

Tenda also added a grounding screw in case your unit doesn’t get that through the power connection or you just want an extra security or ground something else via the switch.

When we take a closer look at the sticker mentioned earlier we see that it contains all the relevant information from power usage to default IP and administrator details.

The TEG1210P complies with IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3u, IEEE 802.3ab, IEEE 802.3z, and IEEE 802.3af ethernet standards. It adopts store and forward scheme and is integrated with an 8K MAC address table with MAC address learning and auto-aging support.

The smart switch supports port aggregation and trunking with up to three groups each of which is allowed to include a maximum of 4 members. It further supports up to 10 groups of Port-based VLANs and up to 128 groups of IEEE 802.1Q Tag VLANs with VLAN IDs ranging from 1 to 4094.

You also get features such as port storm control, statistics, bandwidth control, QoS, IGMP snooping, and 802.1x support. The total switching capacity of 32Gbps should prevent any bottlenecks.

Crystal Acoustics Widaptor Creates Wireless Multi-Room From Any Set of Audio Products

Crystal Acoustics has unveiled a new simple and affordable way to connect your non-smart devices to your home network and enjoy the benefits of modern technology everywhere in your home. The Widaptor allows you to connect any group of disparate audio devices into a fully-functioning wireless multi-room music system.

The Widaptor receives its signal via your WiFi network and then transmits it to any active speaker or hi-fi setup, effectively turning your old dumb devices into smart ones where you can control it all via your smartphone and tablet. Divide your home into zones where it plays the same music in every room is possible on the same level as playing individual music from different sources in different rooms.

You can set up as many of these devices that your network can handle and they even work as Wi-Fi extenders at the same time. It supports both AirPlay and DLNA and comes with a 3.5mm input and a 3.5mm output jack, USB connection for digital storage, and an RJ45 connector for a direct LAN connection.

 

Costing just £49.99, the Widaptor is an affordable option to merge their existing audio products into a single wireless system without having to replace their existing hardware.

Inateck HBU3VL2-4 USB 3.0 Hub and HBU3VL3-4 Hub with Ethernet Review

Introduction


We’ve all run into this one particular issue at one point or another and that is where we have to work with too few USB ports. This is where USB hubs come into play and today I’m taking a closer look at two of them. On the test bench is the Inateck four-port HBU3VL2-4 USB 3.0 hub and the Inateck three-port HBU3VL3-4 USB 3.0 hub with Ethernet connectivity. Both of these new USB 3.0 hubs are aimed at netbook, notebook, ultrabook, tablet, and similar portable PC users and they reflect that in their size, features and portability.

The Inateck HBU3VL3-4 and HBU3VL2-4 both feature the same basic design and are highly portable. They barely take up any space with their 110 x 32 x 20mm size and are lightweight enough to not notice in your bag at just 59grams. They are both passive powered units so you don’t need to carry around an extra and heavy power supply just for the hub. Perfect for users on the go.

The first of the two units, the HBU-3VL2-4 four-port USB 3.0 hub, comes with a short USB 3.0 cable so you can connect it without having meters of cable rolled up next to your laptop. It features three USB ports on top of the unit and one on the end. The one at the end of the unit is especially suited for bigger plugs and devices that would otherwise impair connectivity to the rest of the ports. Other than that, the four-port USB hub doesn’t feature much because there is no need for anything else. It has a sticker on the rear with the product and company names as well as the model number.

Being a passive powered unit does bring the benefit of not having to carry around an extra power supply, but it also means that there are a few limitations on what you can connect. The maximum power draw from connected devices can’t exceed 5V 900mAh. It would be tempting to use a hub with this design as a charger, but that isn’t recommended for passive hubs. But normal smartphones, flash storage, and input devices shouldn’t provide any issues at all. Inside it features the VIA VL812 chipset that should deliver more than enough performance, and I don’t expect to see much of a performance impact through its use.


The second USB hub is a little more specialized and comes with one really cool extra feature, a RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port. This could be particular useful for ultrabook and tablet users that only have wireless connections at their disposal. Just connect the Inateck HBU3VL3-4 to your system, install the Realtek drivers and enjoy the benefits of a cabled connection.

The Inateck HBU3VL3-4 looks just like the 4-port hub we just saw, but it only features the three USB 3.0 ports on the top. The fourth port at the end has been replaced with an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port. This is really awesome and thanks to Inateck’s use of a Realtek RTL8153 chip inside, I expect to see solid performance here.

If you choose to download the drivers for the LAN port instead of using the included driver disk, make sure you download the right one. There has been a revision in the product, but it can easily be identified by the sticker on the bottom. The download page will also warn you about this and guide you to the right version. This is well done and something I wanted to point out, I like when a company makes everything as easy as possible. One is identified by a serial number sticker while the other has the mac address on the sticker.

Would You Pay £6899 for an Ethernet Cable?

Making a mockery of the “enthusiast” market has been a thing for as long as I can remember. From HDMI cables that cost hundreds of pounds, to speaker wire that makes promises so grand, it may as well be forged from unicorn horns. Standard cables are perfectly fine, typically the only time you’ll need a slightly more expensive cable is if you’re installing them into walls, where you want the cable to be more durable. So what about ethernet cables? How much should you be spending on one of those?

If you want “The Diamond” cable from AudioQuest, you can expect to pay £6899.00 for a 12m cable that comes with a 5 year warranty!

“The Diamond is a top-grade Ethernet Cable which is the result of a lifetime’s research by AudioQuest made from the very best materials available. This really is a ‘money no object’ cable for the dedicated Hi-Fi enthusiast that has extended into a world of digital audio sources.” – audiovisualonline

That’s about as much as I’m going to humour that affront to technology, as RJ45 signals are digital and unless you’re stringing together a bunch of rusty coat hangers to make your cables, a standard £9.98 20m Cat6 from OCUK will do the job nicely, especially with 8m of extra cable and a total saving of £6889.02!

I wonder if anyone has bought one…

What’s the most you would pay for a 12m RJ45 cable?