I have over the past years had some trouble with various usb based interfaces. in my experience they some times don’t connect properly.
besides this it is some times more convenient to be able to use cable lengths up to 100m.
I know of the make controller http://makezine.com/controller/ that does network but that project seems a bit dead, at least I rarely hear anything about it.
It worked well when I used it some years ago, but I am a bit in doubt about if it is the best choice but that might be down to me getting an in between version and not the application board along with it
Does anyone have know of other projects that are similar. or perhaps even a box with connectors on it.