Rewind the clock back to January and in amongst the heat and noise of another Consumer Electronics Show in the Nevada desert, the announcement of the NETGEAR ProSAFE 8 Port Click Switch (GSS108E) caught my eye. It’s surprising that news of a device like a humble network switch could cut through the din of endless shouting about the latest smart TVs, premium headphones and the Internet of Things – but on paper, the Click Switch read like a study in usable design. A reinvention, or at least, a re-expression of a device that has traditionally offered little differentiation or innovation for many years.
A network switch with a twist – or at least, a click.
I should admit – I’ve always been a fan of NETGEAR network switches. When I converted our house over to Ethernet a couple of years ago, it was powered by a combination of classics. The 16-port NETGEAR ProSafe Ethernet Switch (GS116), the 8-port GS108 that I’m staring at on my desk now – all sturdy, reliable network devices that have given me not an ounce of trouble. So, I was delighted when NETGEAR offered to send over their latest interpretation of the network switch over to review.
Today, I’m looking at the $69.99 NETGEAR ProSAFE 8 Port Click Switch (GSS108E). Alongside its big brother, the $149.99 NETGEAR ProSAFE 16 Port Click Switch (GSS116E), it shows a manufacturer using insight to innovate in a category that seemed all but done. If your switches go as fast as consumers need, then you may as well save your R&D budget and just sell them cheaper than the competition. Right? Well, we’ve certainly seen heavy price deflation in consumer and small business Gigabit Switches as more people wire up their homes and small offices – but with the Click Switch, NETGEAR has taken a different approach.
Anyone that uses a network switch will know that they can be difficult to position neatly. They’re not the most aesthetically pleasing of devices, but offer a necessary function, so you want to place a switch where it’s easily accessible, but not necessarily easily visible. To date, manufacturers have offered wall plates and screws so consumers can mount switches to the wall – a reasonably good option, but one that lacks flexibility.
To address this, NETGEAR has created a “1-2-3-4 mounting system” which, in plain English, gives you four options for mounting your Click Switch. Those four options – vertical and horizontal mounts to the rear and side of the device – provide immediate flexibility and, when combined with a couple of additional tricks on offer, elevate the Click Switch from a basic, functional networking device into a consumer product that’s been designed with real people in mind.
Here’s NETGEAR’s explanation of the Click Switch – take a look while I open up the box.
What’s in the Box?
Open up the box and you’ll find the Click Switch accompanied by a variety of accessories.
The contents includes:
- The NETGEAR ProSAFE 8 Port Click Switch
- Mounting Plate
- 2 x Retaining straps for cable management
- Mounting plate
- Resources CD
While the Click Switch chassis is an all-new design, it’s disappointingly made of plastic – that’s in contrast to the steel chassis supplied with other switches in the ProSafe range. The mounting plate too is made of plastic and the result feels a little less premium, a little less professional than I’m used to seeing from Netgear switches – particularly those targeted at small business. The moulded plastic chassis feels durable, however – there’s no bend or twist when you’re hands-on, but if you’re anticipating placing a switch where there is danger of bumps and knocks, then be advised.
With dimensions of 305 x 65 x 35mm (WxDxH), the switch is longer and thinner than other 8-port devices you my have encountered. As we’ll see, that’s helpful for mounting.