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Pros
Cons
CacheLink Software

Lacks a good manual

ISDN popularity is fading fast

Conclusions

One thing that was sorely missed with this unit was the great manual that accompanied the 700s. The 350e came with a simple card that explains how to connect and set the unit up. While it isn't necessary to pack every unit with a manual as good as the one that came with the 700s I would have liked to see a more in depth manual packed with the 350e.

The 350e will not integrate into your network like a normal hub. When cable or DSL become available there is no WAN port on the unit, and therefore a new hub will have to be purchased to use DSL or cable. That goes for a T1 line too. The lack of a WAN port also means that the unit cannot be moved behind another hub or router at a later time. You'd have to really like the idea of a long-term arrangement with modems or ISDN to commit to the 350e. That brings up another issue entirely: fewer and fewer ISPs are allowing multiple connections to their service using the same account. With three modems that could mean paying for three accounts and with three ISDN modems the cost could be very sobering. The final nail in this coffin is the $849 price tag. That is a very large investment to make in a hub that, to me, has planned obsolescence built into it. ISDN is losing customers every day to higher speed connections such as DSL and cable. I think a business would be better off considering a satellite modem with a more conventional 100 MBps hub. That would be even better if the hub featured a switch. With the satellite connection the user could switch to T1, cable, or DSL once they became available in their area, although the bandwidth of satellite is very good. When you add in the cost of three modems or ISDN connections and any associated ISP charges then the 350e begins to look quite outdated compared to the other high speed services available.

The best feature of this unit was the CacheLink software. On a good network CacheLink can be a great timesaver and remove the dependency on the internet for all data. During peak times when the internet is very congested pages that are routinely viewed within the company can be displayed much faster. That is a big helper in productivity.

Unless the 350e fits the bill for your company perfectly I can't recommend it. If you do have multiple dial-out modems or ISDN connections and don't plan on switching in the future, then perhaps the 350e is just what you need. For just about everyone else I'd say stick to a router or hub that allows for upgrades to higher speed connections in the future.

Victor Oshiro
9 September, 2000










 





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