Looking for an 8-port gigabit switch for my home office, to connect and network all of the computers... after a bunch of surfing and review-scanning, I decided to kick it up a notch from an ordinary "desktop" switch to a "managed" switch.... the NetGear GS108T. It seemed that all but the most technical network gearhead reviewers thought that the GS108T is a great value in a switch. Although it's only about US$110, one can't go throwing a tenth of a grand around -- especially when there's so much else to buy with US$110. What tipped the scales in favor was my interest in distributed commodity computing (a la Google's computing clusters made up of cheap, second-generation computers). Not only is a managed, "smart" switch more similar to a real production environment -- the smart-ness referred to is the switch's ability to send network traffic directly to its destination, vs. the standard of broadcasting all network data to all computers -- but it gives a much more detailed view of network traffic. I'll learn how to monitor traffic on my own home network, detect problems or bottlenecks, and maybe prototype a distributed computing cluster of my own.
NetGear GS108T product link