Product Type: Belkin Hub
Newest Review: ... small and easy to carry in a laptop bag, and works plug and play with most computers. Belkin have now released an upgraded and faster ... more
Everything you want in a USB hub
Member Name: tirial
Advantages: Small, easy to use, portable, value for money, flexible
Disadvantages: None really.
The Belkin ClipOn hub is a 4-port USB hub with its own optional power supply, designed to clip over the edge of desks and be easily portable.
Physically it is a nice design. With a matt black plastic cover, it is small, sleek and deceptively light. Straight out of the packet (a standard plastic bloister pack) it looks like an odd shape, with the two large prongs for the clip beneath it, but once it is fitted it makes a lot more sense.
The clip underneath is designed to fit over the edge of standard office desks. It is strong, and takes a little bit of strength to slide into place, but once it is there it's pretty secure. You may have trouble if your desk has a lip or metal bar under the edge, but otherwise it has worked with everthing from a dining table to standard PC desks. The two prongs are curved underneath to give you room to tuck wires in and keep them tidy under the desk edge, but as someone who changes devices frequently I don't tend to use this feature.
Once it is clipped in place, the top forms a raised V-shape with USB ports on each side, two facing towards the user, two away.These are nicely spaced so collared or oddly shaped USB devices can fit without problems, and the angle makes it very easy to remove or insert devices without fumbling. On the flat side there is a small round socket for the external power supply, if you choose to use it.
It connects to the computer by a USB to mini-USB cable. The mini USB hub is on the side designed to face the user, making it easy to attach and detach. As a USB 2.0 hub, it offers reasonable speeds (480Mbps) and I have used it to transfer and duplicate information simultaneously between multiple external devices on the hub with no notable slowdown.
One of the best features of this hub is the optional external power supply. This is an adaptor designed to connect the hub directly to a mains socket. Used without it, the hub works like a standard USB hub and draws power from the USB connection to the computer. With it attached, the hub can provide additional power for USB devices, reducing strain on your computer's power supply. It is extremely useful for devices like external harddrives and DVD burners which sometimes draw more power than a computer's USB port can provide, and so would otherwise require multiple USB port connections or their own external power supply. This is also extremely useful for laptops, where the battery may otherwise be unable to provide sufficent sustained power for a larger peripheral e.g. external high speed hard drive.
The external power supply also means this device can be used as a charger for USB devices even if it is not connected to a computer. I've used it to recharge wireless console controllers and USB batteries when I didn't want to turn the computer or console on.
No drivers were necessary, it's simply plug and play. I've used it that way with Windows XP and above without problems. Ease of use is very good - the hub can clip almost anywhere, be used with or without the external power supply, is very light, small and easy to carry in a laptop bag, and works plug and play with most computers.
Belkin have now released an upgraded and faster version, which I don't use, which apparently allows the 4 port section to be detached from the base and act as an independant hub. To be honest, I prefer the stability of this version.
This hub, and it's newer version, are available from PC specialist shops, and widely available online. You can find them second hand but since a new hub is under £20 - and now the more recent version has come out, under £15 - you won't really save enough to make it worthwhile.
I've actually never had a problem with this hub, which is a very rare thing for me and computer peripherals, and would recommend it.
Summary: Absolutely brilliant USB hub that offers a lot of options