Originally Posted by AllenDB
So do most users plug their HDHR box right into the recording computer??? I might guess most users plug their HDHR box into a switch or router and therefore may be susceptible to the same phenomenon. I've got lots of ethernet cable laying around and will try plugging the HDHR box into the router. That is after I get the Belkin installed and see if it too has similar behavior.
I doubt anyone would bother plugging the HDHR straight into their PC. That would sort of defeat the purpose of it being usable as a network device. I mean, you COULD go with a direct connection on its own network card in the PC but that would raise other networking complications. It's more useful to connect the PC and the HDHR to the same switch and have that switch, in turn, connected to the rest of the network. This keeps the raw ethernet packet traffic segregated from the rest of the network.
Think of a very long series of freight cars (not a connected train). You COULD jump in-between them as they pass but more often than not you wouldn't make it. This analogy works when thinking about network devices that pass a lot of traffic. Yes, other traffic "can" get through but it'd be at the mercy of finding a random free interval to do it. Using a switch helps, of course, but using a switch isolated from all the rest helps even more. This way that bulk traffic only has to get arbitrated by the local switch, not the one handling all the rest of the network's traffic.
Adding wireless to the mix makes it even more useful to have switches setup to segregate the traffic. With wired devices the switch can, most of the time, cleanly handle the stop/start passing of packets without losing them. With wireless it has to deal with possible loss over the air or interference first and THEN add the network congestion on the wire. This leads to a much greater likelihood of packet loss and retries.
None of which the user "sees" immediately, they just notice poor or uneven performance.
Now, go a step further and introduce a combo device like a consumer-grade wireless router. You're expecting the switch on it to pass all that traffic. And then expecting it to handle integrating wireless traffic. Which has it's own CPU load due to likely use of wifi security encryption. I've had little faith in the ability of most consumer grade devices to handle anything more than trivial web traffic. Especially when they start to add "features" designed to "help" consumers (like filtering and the like). Video, multicast, streaming and the like quickly overwhelm low-end devices and they don't always fail in graceful or easy to diagnose ways.
That said, it's fine to use devices like this, just understand how to buffer them from becoming overwhelmed. A little bit of planning and the strategic use of switches can often make a huge difference in overall network performance and reliability.
Just don't take it too far, as ethernet does have limits on how switches can be in a hierarchy, along with cable quality requirements and length limits. Get a few of those things wrong and it can get a LOT harder to diagnose what's wrong. Like too many unmanaged (aka dumb) switches daisy-chained together using poor quality cabling. With unmanaged switches you can't tell which ports are acting up, let alone why. Most of the time they keep retrying, often making the problem worse. Typically the only way a user can tell anything's wrong is by seeing the switch blinking ALL of its lights frantically, as that's a sign of traffic retrying so much as to become impossible to pass anything in a useful manner.
So, in short, knowing what kind of traffic your devices are going to require and segregating them appropriately goes a long way toward eliminating debugging hassles down the road. Thankfully 5 or 8 port switches are dirt cheap these days.