Firstly we'll talk about the product which runs the show, the 4-port 802.11b wireless broadband router which comes packaged inside a fairly small box. The light weight 10/100 switch is made out of plastic and has an overall stylish grey look to it.
This unit allows you to share an ADSL or cable modem Internet connection with 4 or more computers on the LAN with hardware routing which helps keep hackers and other like kinds of people off your network and computers. Though, with that being said, never consider your LAN totally safe from the outside world. Hackers can always find a way in.
As well as hosting the Internet connection for all connected computers, the switch also acts as a wireless access point for computers with 802.11x adapters in the near vicinity. This can be used to share the Internet and communicate with other wired computers. While wireless LAN is indeed very cool, it has one major downfall - and that is security, or lack thereof in most cases. Without any encryption, anyone can freely pull up outside of your house with their notebook, wireless adapter, "war driving" software (or even one of your neighbors if they are that sneaky) and connect to your LAN and use your Internet connection or browse and copy your files through the air waves. Thankfully though, this router from X-Micro, like many now, includes 64-bit and 128-bit WEP to help keep intruders off of your network.
Yet even despite security warnings by many experts, most companies still do not enable WEP on their wireless networks. Instead they leave settings as default, which most of the time means no WEP being enabled. We found by once driving (or "war driving", as they call it) through the city of Melbourne in Australia for no longer than 15 minutes that out of the 30 or so wireless networks found, only around a quarter of them had WEP enabled and we were free to login in to the ones which didn't in under 30 seconds and use their Internet connections without paying a single cent. Consider this our own warning for the uneducated. We'll look more into the security features of the router shortly.
Included inside the package is the router, AC power adapter, installation CD (which includes drivers for all versions of Windows) as well as manual and paper version of the small manual.
As you can see from the image above, on the front of the switch we have a whole bunch of activity LED's which let you know what the switch is doing and if wireless LAN and WAN (Wide Area Network aka the Internet) are active or not.
On the back of the switch from left to right we have the WAN port for Internet connections through ADSL or cable modem. Then we have the four numbered 10/100 ports, AC power jack and then the wireless antenna which sends out a 360 degree signal for wireless-capable computers around the house or work.
Now let's take a look at the web-based admin part of the switch.
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