Advice Needed on Non-Wireless Ethernet Solution

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by ScarletRed, Jun 18, 2006.

  1. ScarletRed macrumors regular

    ScarletRed

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Location:
    Right here
    #1
    I am not a computer person and I tend to be quite clueless especially on matters pertaining to networking. And by clueless, I mean utterly stupid. So I've browsed through several posts in this forum about hubs, ethernet switches, and routers in order to educate myself. Unfortunately, I am still unsure as to which of the three I need.

    What I am looking for is the ability to connect my laptop to the net via broadband. I have only one cable modem (Road Runner) in my studyroom to which my PC is connected (and I am using the PC as I type this), yet I'd like to be able to connect my new MacBook Pro laptop to the internet not only from the studyroom but livingroom as well.... or anywhere else that has electrical power and broadband outlet (i.e. my school). Hence, portability is a must.

    The hub/switch/router need not be fancy. All I want is something that is reasonably priced (under $150) that will provide reliable internet access to my laptop at a reasonable speed. Although AirPort Express came with my laptop, I do not wish to use it (for security reasons or whatever) especially since so many people are experiencing problems with it. I would like to stick with good old fashioned wired connection.

    After browsing through online apple store in the accessories/networking section, I found Belkin Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and FireWire 6-Port Hub for Mac mini (http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/wo/10.RSLID?mco=24F1BF5&nplm=TE288LL%2FA) Although the product's name sounds like it's made for use with Mac Mini, I believe it is also compatible with MacBook Pro. I 'like' this product for two reasons (however silly it may be):

    1. It looks sleek and compact, hence fulfilling one of my requirements (portability).
    2. Unlike other hubs out there, this one needs no electrical power.

    I have three questions and this is where I need help from Mac gurus out there:

    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    1. If this particular hub requires no power, then why aren't all hubs made this way?
    Obviously, there must be reason(s). As to why, I haven't got the faintest idea.​
    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    2. Has anyone here have had experience with the hub in the link provided above?
    If yes, then what is your opinion of the product?
    And would it be also fully compatible with a PC?​
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    3. Would anyone care to explain the differences between hub/router/switch to me without using any computer lingos?
    And yes, I already did google search about the differences between three three and all of them gave very long and convoluted answer. The fact of the matter is that I still remain confused/unsure/clueless about the differences between hub/router/switch.​
     
  2. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2004
    Location:
    Huntsville, AL
    #2
    A powered hub can provide power to devices it's connected to (such as an iPod that needs to be charged), whereas a non-powered hub can only transfer data. The powered hub is commonly called "active" and the non-powered "passive".

    A hub/router/switch, in networking terms, are thus:

    Ethernet Hub -- The simplest of all modern ethernet technology. It essentially takes a packet that you send out and rebroadcasts it to everyone on the network. Potential security risks, potential congestion problems, slower speed.

    Ethernet Switch -- The logical evolution of the hub, basically. It "knows" which computer to send each packet to and sends it to that specific port instead of sending it to all the ports on the network. Think of it as a phone-call rather than a radio broadcast.

    Router -- Used to join two networks, typically. The current "consumer" model for the router joins your home network to the ISP's network. Provides hardware security layer (via NAT) and is generally recommended for all broadband connections, whether you're connecting one computer or an entire network.​

    Now -- as for the "hub" you posted, I'm sorry to say that it is *not* what you need. That device is for connecting several FireWire or USB devices to a single port. What you need is an ethernet device. Simple switch/router combos can be had for as little as $50 in any store such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, or Circuit City.

    I would recommend something like the Linksys WRT54G. This gives you a router with a built-in switch and has 802.11g (WiFi, fully compatible w/ your Airport Extreme card) for the day you get sick of that ethernet cable. :) Until then, you can simply disable the WiFi radio.

    Plug the Linksys box into your broadband modem, follow the easy instructions included, and you're set!

    Almost all ethernet devices require power, by the way. Getting a power-over-ethernet device is typically quite expensive and is complicated to configure for the typical home user.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. tdhurst macrumors 68040

    tdhurst

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #3
    Um....

    While I don't understand your unwillingness to use wireless internet with a laptop...um...well...you have options.

    First, you need to buy a ROUTER with at least two ports to use in your home (modem to WAN port on the router, LAN port to PC, LAN port to Macbook; all with ethernet cords) but only next to your PC. I don't understand how it is you would like to connect in your living room short of a very long cord or power over ethernet...

    Besides that, if you are hooking up at your school, all you need is an ethernet cord to plug into what port they have available. Questions?
     
  4. Darwin macrumors 65816

    Darwin

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2003
    Location:
    round the corner
    #4
    If you have an Airport Express then that will do the trick, the hub that you have shown is one that is more for accessories being connected to the computer than for any networking use. Hub is the named used for both a networking device and an accessory device so it is easy it get them mixed up

    The Airport Express would give you wireless access and would allow you to share your internet connection between your Mac and PC

    It is a hub/router/switch

    Network Hubs are kinda going extinct now and switches/routers are taking over. Most of the new routers today are switches so modern ones will have this
     
  5. ScarletRed thread starter macrumors regular

    ScarletRed

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Location:
    Right here
    #5
    Strange.....

    In my school's spintronics lab where I work, there are several PCs all connected to a single hub. That's right. A hub. The brand is Kingston, I believe (but I am not certain). Why do you say a hub is not what I need? I think I am more confused now than before...:eek:
     
  6. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #6
    It is because the are connecting to the school's Ethernet network.
    Your MacBook can plug into those same ports and function, as long as your Network preferences pane has the appropriate settings in it to communicate with the school's network. (hint, you can set up different Network settins and store them as Locations, allowing you to have a "home" and "away" configuration on tap.)

    Now in the case of your residence, you already have one PC on your broadband connection --- that is an ambiguous reference however, it doesn't tell us whether you have a cable or DSL modem in your residence - which would be the normal definition of Broadband- or whether you are using an Ethernet network connection provided by the school.

    The normal (non-school) setup is you have a cable or DSL modem, this provides a single Ethernet port for one computer (or occasionally, a USB port - best to avoid those). Often, the modem is restricted to operating with one computer or device only. A ROUTER (or gateway) permits you to create your own private network within your residence, and share that single modem connection with a number of computers which are wired to the Ethernet ports on the router (or connected by wireless Ethernet if it is a wireless router).

    So a router is a hub, with the additional ability to route- or create a private network of ethernet ports connected to a suingle Internet connection.

    IF the connection in your residence is an Ethernet port provided by the school for direct connection to their network (as opposed to a coble or DSL broadband modem), then you don't NEED a router, you can use a simple hub -- if the school permits you to have more than one device connected, beause each computer has to have its own address supplied by the network. In this situation, many people still opt for a router, because the router presents one IP address to the network, and allows multiple "internal" addresses - also routers provide an elementary security function by hiding the computers from the network at large.
     
  7. matthew24 macrumors 6502

    matthew24

    Joined:
    May 30, 2002
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #7
    First let me explain the differences:

    An switch is an intelligent hub, cq it switches only the active ports, and does this depending on the need.

    A router is a switch with a build in ADSL-modem and a Firewall.
    Most routers do have 4 ports and can have wireless.

    Because a router does have all in one including a hardware-Firewall, this is what I prefer (cost is not a problem). I do not advice USB or Firewire devices as switches, because your main computer becomes the gateway and cant be turned off (it is also more complex for both hardware and software). (Firewire and USB devices do have power over the USB/Firewire cable.)

    If you go for the router, your modem becomes obsolete. (and you don't need cross-cable)

    If still in doubt it is always wise to consult your ISP.

    options:

    1) ISP > Modem > Crosscable > Switch > computers.
    2) ISP > Router > computers

    I hope I have been clear, otherwise questions are always welcome.
     
  8. tdhurst macrumors 68040

    tdhurst

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #8
    Yes, but...

    But what you are looking for isn't a firewire or usb hub, it's an ethernet one.
     
  9. ScarletRed thread starter macrumors regular

    ScarletRed

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Location:
    Right here
    #9
    Thank you, Canadian guy, for clarifying the issue. I have some more questions for you gurus out there:


    1. Is AirPort Express a router? Or is it a switch?

    2. Is AirPort Extreme a router or a switch?

    3. Can both of the above also connect to a PC? (my guess is a no...)

    4. In the event that I go with a router as you have suggested, will a single router be able to provide access to both a PC and a Mac simultaneously?

    5. Whatever I choose (to be wireless or not to be wireless), I am going to need a thingamajig to split the USB data cable to the following configuration:
    a) A USB data cable from back of the Road Runner cable modem to the thingamajig.
    b) One USB cable connects from the thingamajig to the back of my PC while another cable connects from the thingamajig to an AirPort Express/AirPort Extreme/or whatever device I decide.​

    To me, it sounds like this thingamajig is a simple hub. (an ethernet hub?) Am I correct here?

    And also, is there anything wrong with configuration i described above? Please keep in mind that I have the networking sense of a dodo bird so please be patient.:eek:

    p.s. My thanks to appleretailguy for pointing out the fact there are different types of hub, an ethernet one and a non-ethernet one.
     
  10. h0e0h macrumors 6502a

    h0e0h

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    West Monroe, Louisiana
    #10
    I have roadrunner. All you need to do is run to your local Office Depot where they're having an sale on a Linksys wireless-g router (up to 54MBs speed) for $49. If you need faster you can upgrade to a linksys with speedbooster (claiming 35% increase over wireless-g router) i thnk $89 or an N router (currently on sale at Office Depot as well) for $129. I went to my local Office Depot today to pick up some of the DVD-Rs that they have on sale, 50 for $7.99, and looked around for an antenna/range extender and saw those prices. Once you get the router, simply go from the cable modem (white box suppled by roadrunner) to the in on the Linksys router, then with the blue cable supplied in the box go from port 1 to the PC. Then you can encrypt your network with a 10 to 26 digit WEP key for security (which i'm doing as well). The Linksys router comes with a PC walkthrough that you have to run to set it up, which sets up the connection for internet as well as security, and that way you can have range and reliablilty. I bought a set of high gain (7db) antennas today for my router which were just as much as that G router... they increased my reception to the kitchen of my house by 1 airport bar. Now that i look back on it, i would have just waited and got the N router when they got it i stock, but instead i went with the on-sale router (which has been on different specials for 3 weeks now) to increase speed. If you can go for it, get the N router at $129, it looks like a beast and provides wicked range and speed. Hope this helps...
     
  11. ScarletRed thread starter macrumors regular

    ScarletRed

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Location:
    Right here
    #11
    So then.....

    Thank you for the helpful advice, everyone.

    To h0e0h: For confirmation, will a single router will connect to both PC and a Mac simultaneously? Does a router require installation software of anykind?
     
  12. Electro Funk macrumors 65816

    Electro Funk

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2005
    Location:
    The Opium Garden
    #12
    your pc can connect to an airport express or extreme... but you will need a wireless card in the pc to pick up the signal.... one can be had at any electronics store for anywhere between 25$ and 150$....

    if you have a cable modem.... tha cable comes from your walljack to the modem.... Rj45 patch cord from cable modem to airport extreme/express... wireless to both mac and pc that have wireless cards installed.... you can also hook up a printer to the airport express which will allow you to print wirelessly from you mac & pc... you can also hook it up to a stereo to wirelessly stream your iTunes....

    and yes a router would allow both a mac & pc to get a live internet signal....

    i would suggest the AP Express....
     
  13. h0e0h macrumors 6502a

    h0e0h

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    West Monroe, Louisiana
    #13
    yes, currently i've got my mother's iBook, father's work Dell laptop, my 12" PB, 17" MBP, PPC Mac Mini, my Brother's PPC Mac Mini, and his dell desktop, only my 12" PB and Mac Mini being hard wired, all simultaneously running off my roadrunner connection via that G router. There are no drivers to install per say, just a CD that comes with the router that autoconfigures the router for you, but no software to install, and it only has to be run on the PC. No big deal and takes no time, like i said its just a setup wizard.
     
  14. tdhurst macrumors 68040

    tdhurst

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #14
    Clarification

    It can be either. Routers can function as switches, but switches cannot be routers.

    It can be both. The Airport Extreme gives you one networking port (for a hardwired computer), a regular dial up modem and the ability to handle more wireless connections at once.

    Yes. Either with an ethernet cord OR wirelessly, if your PC has a wireless card.

     
  15. uchuff macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2006
    #15
    I also use a Linksys WRT54G (one of the linux based ones, think they are designated WRT54GL now), it's a great solid router that also benefits from wireless should you change your mind. The price difference for getting wireless is not much now, plus you can just disable it if you are worried about security - however if you pick a fairly random long WPA key you should be alright.
     
  16. ScarletRed thread starter macrumors regular

    ScarletRed

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Location:
    Right here
    #16
    Thank you, everyone for educating me on networking. Now I have a good idea what the differences are between the three.

    I think I will go ahead with Linksys WRT54GC. It has the reliability of WRT54G except the GC version is compact. And it has also has four ethernet cable ports in case I do away with wireless altogether. :)
     
  17. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #17
    ScarletRed: Do not start duplicate threads. It is confusing for people trying to help you and against forum rules. Your two threads have now been merged.
     

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