In as little tech language as possible, what does this product DO? Is this a manual electronic switcher for multiple (up to 5) PCs with Ethernet cards to pick the one to connect to a DSL modem? Could it also run two computers from the modem at the same time? Does it also allow two computers connected to this device to directly communicate, transfer files, run hard drives, etc?
If you want to connect more then 1 PC to your Internet connection, you need a ROUTER! Most Routers have a 4-Port Switch on them. If you get a Wireless router, you still have those 4 ports on the Router. A Router Basically creates your own Private Network and allowing all your devices to talk to the Internet using the 1 Public IP address you get with your DSL or Cable Connection normally!!! So while your Internet IP might be 18.104.22.168 your Private network IP address are something like 192.168.0.1, and 192.168.0.2, 192.168.0.3, etc This is the most common used for Private networks, but some use 10 to start with also. These IP's are reserved for Private IP networks.
Now what happens when you have 4 devices plugged into your router? Well your filled up, can't plug anything else in. That's where a Switch comes in. Basically all you do is plug the Switch into your Router using 1 of the 4 ports, and then plug the other end into the switch. So if it's a 5 port switch, well you have 4 ports to now work with. So you expanded your 4 port router into having 7 ports!!! If you get a 8 port router, now you have 10 ports to work with. There's nothing to configure to make the switch work. You can go into your Router Menu and configure the devices plugged into the switch just like if it was plugged into the router.
I like wire connections over that of wireless for Hardware that stays in place. Wireless is great for your Laptop, or Smart phone and Tablet. In my Case, my Cable Modem and Router are located where my PC is at. My Home Entertainment center is at a different location. I have a Xbox 360, a HD DVD Player, Blu-Ray player, Slingbox, and HD Homerun(Record 2 HD programs from a Antenna at once!!!) That's 5 devices that need Internet access that's located away from my PC area. So I have a 8 port Gigabit switch Located At my Entertainment and then I run a single Ethernet cable to where my PC is located into my Gigabit Wireless router (10,100,1000 speeds). So I have a Reliable wired connection to most everything!!! I'm not running say 5 Ethernet cables back to my PC. I have room to expand at my Entertainment center also. Plug a short Ethernet cable into the switch and it'll connect to the Internet! My iphone, and Sony Dash for example I have connecting wireless. If/When I get a tablet in the future, that'll also connect wireless, and all those wireless and wired devices have there own private IP address on my Network, sharing the 1 Public IP address, which the Router handles.
Now you can also use a switch by it's self if your not connecting to the Internet. For example you want to connect your 2 Xbox 360 together and play games against each other for games that possible with. Or connect just your PC's together for a Home Network without Internet access. I believe you can also use it to connect to the Internet without a Router IF each device has it's own Public IP address. I know some ISP's used to do this. They charge you extra for each IP address, which is why Routers really took off!!!
No - you don't pick one. Yes, it the 5 port model should run up to 4 computers at a time. Yes, those 4 computers (or 5 without your DSL) should -- all other things equal -- be able to communicate and transfer files. Their ability to use hard drives will usually be un-related unless you're referring to network attached storage. Hope this helps.
A switch is pretty much a better version of a hub. The main difference is that when a computer sends data, it does not broadcast it to all the ports on the switch (like it would on a hub). The switch allows the computer to send the data directly to the PC/Server that it is trying to reach. This reduces traffic in your network
This will permit you to have four computers simultaneously sharing the network connected to your DSL modem (the fifth port is connected to the Ethernet side of the DSL modem). Tech speak follows... Your DSL modem *is* a router that connects your home network subnet space to the phone company network. It roues the packets between networks that do not share the same switch fabric. That same modem most likely provides DHCP to your Ethernet side permitting your local computers to dynamically configure their network settings appropriately. Example, I have a DSL modem. With only one Ethernet port to which I have a switch attached. I have several Non-wifi computing devices attached to the switch as well as a WiFi router. All 17 of my devices, wifi and wired, share the same DSL connection without any intervention on my part. Such setup is reasonably tractable to deploy, my mother in her 70s has done something similar at her house -- admittedly she is determined to not be daunted by technology.
You can use an Ethernet switch to a modern DSL modem to fan out to multiple computers. You'd be better off using a cheap router though for security. Look for one with 100Mb to 1000Gb throughput. Get the 1000 Mb (1 Gb) if you are streaming HDTV. Whether or not your DSL modem can assign local network addresses automatically to computers in your house is a question to ask AT&T support. As some say below, a modern DSL modem probably can. Personally I always use a router for security reasons.
Why are there no responses to my question, after 8 days now? I suggest three possibilities: 1. Tech savvy shoppers don't feel like wasting their time with such a simple question. 2. Many shoppers don't notice there is a product discussion area so far down the web page. 3. Nobody else knows what this device does either, even the seller! ; )