From working in the IT Support industry for nearly 20 years, I've spent a considerable amount of time working with network gear. Along with many other computer stuff, of course. Let's jump in and take a look at the Netgear ProSAFE 16-Port "Click Switch."
We have to start with this first, as it is somewhat unique in the networking world. I've never seen a 16-port switch with this design. Most are compact or rack mounted designs that don't really change much in shape, just size. As you can see from the pictures this switch has a long narrow design, that's mean to be easily mounted under a desk, on a wall, post, etc. Given it's compact profile, it'll go just about anywhere.
The power cord is angled and can go in either direction, depending on how you have it installed. So it can go straight down, or to the front. Then you've got your basic link and connectivity lights. And at that point, you're dealing with a normal switch.
There is an optional bracket that allows easy removal. I simply used the two included screws to attach to the wall behind the small entertainment center in the media room / office. This room has about a dozen computers, large TV, media center, etc. So a 16 port switch is actually the minimum needed to ensure full network connectivity.
Once the bracket was screwed in, the switch clicked right in. There is a tab on the top you push down to release. I did note that sometimes you have to push down on the tab for it to snap into place. Not a big deal. After all, you're not going to be removing it very often.
There are also included straps that attach to the switch to assist with cable management. You can use them separately, but they are meant to be used with the switch since there are loops to run it through.
SETUP & CONFIG
This switch is a "managed" switch, which certainly explains the cost. In other words, it has built-in software to provide many advanced features. In most home environments, they will probably never get used. But when you get into more complex home offices and small businesses, it starts to make a lot more sense. You can access these features via the included software (yes, there is a "CD") or via the website. Either way, the experience is comparable.
The first thing you'll want to do is basic stuff you might do with a router. Setup the password, give it an IP address, and check out the advanced features to see what you might want to use. I won't go into how these features work, as that gets a bit more technical, but you've got VLAN, loop detection, QoS, Cable Testing, and much more. You can even check out "port statistics" to see how many bandwidth has gone through each port and how many CRC errors have occurred. Very handy.
But does it work fast enough? It sure does. For my "stress test" I fired up 6 computers and had them transferring files between each other. All while playing around with the management interface. Bottom line, it had no problem holding at 100-105MB/s transfer rates for all 3 sessions that were running simultaneously. That tells me we've got full gigabit and a back plane that can handle some serious bandwidth.
It's important to realize that once you get into managed switches, you're are getting into pricier territory. So if you don't think you'll ever use these features, there are cheaper options. But for those wanting advanced options for current needs or even some "future proofing," this is the way to go. Add in it's unique form factor and flexible installation options and you've got what I consider a highly recommended switch.