3Com Baseline Switch 2226-PWR Plus review
The hype surrounding gigabit Ethernet and the drive to push it out to the desktop has generally overshadowed a number of other developments within the field of networking. Despite the standard being ratified in 2003, we’ve seen a comparative trickle of products supporting 802.3af PoE (Power over Ethernet), and the level of features offered by compliant products has been varied.
3Com’s Baseline family has been busy reducing the price per gigabit port for the past year, and now the company turns its attention to providing smaller businesses with affordable PoE-compliant switches. When we reviewed 3Com’s higher-end 4400-PWR, we were impressed with the level of management features, particularly those centring round PoE information. This was certainly much better than HP’s efforts. The latter’s 2626-PWR switch (see issue 116, p169) only provided basic details, and even these were available solely from the CLI. In contrast, the budget-priced 2226-PWR continues 3Com’s tradition and incorporates plenty of PoE controls from its browser interface, making it much more accessible.
The switch offers 24 auto-sensing 10/100BaseTX ports and a pair of dual-function ports supporting either 1000BaseT operations or fibre gigabit Ethernet uplinks via 1000BaseSX or LX SFP modules. It’s an end-span device, so all dual-speed ports provide power over the same wire pairs used for data delivery. End devices can then be powered directly from the switch. Mid-span devices are more suited to upgrading legacy equipment, as they’re placed between the switch and end device and inject power into the unused wire pairs. Being fully 802.3af compliant, the 2226-PWR contains automatic detection circuits that prevent it from sending power to non-compliant terminal devices, so only those that present an authenticated PoE signature will receive power.
A noticeable omission from the 2226-PWR is a serial port. CLI access has been superseded by 3Com’s Discovery tool, which searches the network for 3Com switches and displays them ready for configuration. It will even automatically assign an available IP address in the same subnet as the system running Discovery and take you straight to the browser interface.
The interface itself provides access to port configuration, VLAN and traffic prioritisation parameters, while the PoE tab offers plenty of power controls. We tested the switch with an Axis 211 PoE network camera and 3Com Series 8000 access point and both worked fine. The screen shows total, available and used power in watts and the option to globally disable PoE functions on all ports. Below this is a table showing which ports are providing power and the draw in MW, mA and dV. From here, you can disable power on a per-port basis and select from four priorities. If the drain reaches the switch’s limits, the ports with the lowest priority will be automatically switched off to conserve power for those with a higher priority. You can also set three power limits on each port in MW. A new feature will be the ability to recognise 3Com’s NBX voice products and automatically prioritise their traffic.
The 2226-PWR Plus represents excellent value for smaller businesses looking to implement compliant PoE devices such as handsets, cameras and wireless access points. It’s simple to set up and, although general management features are basic, you get good power controls.
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