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I bought this USB hub as I ran out of the built in buses in my laptop - they were already being used by my mouse, keyboard, external hard drives, camcorders etc... This hub, as it was able to convert 1 hub into 4 meant that I could connect many more devices to my system.
The design of this hub is... ok... I have seen better in the past and this is quite chunky to many I have used before. All of the USB ports are along one side, if they placed two on each side they may have been able to almost half the size of the hub and make it easier to carry around in my laptop bag. However, this would sacrifice the convenience of only having to look at one side and also, by having all on one side, cable management is easier and there is a reduced chance of them tangling.
A big issue with many USB hubs is that if too many devices are used (even if all ports are not used) they could draw too much current than the single USB hub which it is feeding off can supply. For example, if a USB hub can supply 4 Amps of current and 4 devices were connected to the hub, they would only work if the total current needed by the devices totalled 4 Amps or less - If two of the devices used 2 Amps, there would be no current for the other devices and they would not work. This USB hub solves this issue as it is a powered USB hub and has its own external power supply. You simply connect the hub up to your mains power as well as the computer and theoretically can have an unlimited number of devices from a single hub.
The power adapter, despite bringing the functionality listed above, does add to the chunkiness of the hub when transporting and can make it awkward to carry the hub around with you in a bag.
It seems like ages ago that I had a PC that did not have enough USB ports and the two that it did have were discreetly hidden around the back of the tower. At first this was not a problem as I hardly ever used the USB ports. As my computer grew so did the need to access these USB ports, this soon became an annoyance as I kept having to turn the tower around to access the ports and plug another device in, this also meant sacrificing whatever was in the port at that time.
I began thinking the only choice I would have would be to get a new PC that had four USB ports, two of which now seemed to be positioned on the front of the towers of the newer computers.
A friend suggested that I should look at getting myself a USB hub, as this would not only add to the amount of USB ports that are available to me, but would make accessing the ports so much easier.
Which model did I choose?
I chose the Belkin Hi-Speed USB 2.0 4-Port Hub; this was based on the price, availability and looks. The price and availability of the USB hub were my main purchasing considerations.
What did I get?
I got the main USB hub, a connection cable (one end plugs into the hub and the other plugs into a USB port on the computer), a transformer (this supplies power to the hub via a cable that plugs into the hub, more about this later in the review) and very limited instructions. This all gave me change from £25.
What does it look like?
The hub itself is squircle shaped (a cross between a square and a circle) on one end are four USB ports, at one side is a socket for connecting the USB lead that connects the hub to the computer and another socket for the power supply that comes from the transformer.
On the top and directly over the USB sockets are LEDs that tell me when any of the USB sockets are in use and another LED that tells me if it is connected to the transformer.
How easy is it to use?
I found it very easy to set up and use, first I plugged the connector lead into a spare USB socket on the back of my PC, then I plugged the other end into the USB hub. The next step was to plug the transformer into the mains and the corresponding pin into the socket on the USB hub.
What can it be used for?
I have used this for plugging in scanners, printers, mass-storage devices (including a PSP), web cam, a mouse, high-resolution cameras and USB hard drives.
The list does not end there, also you can add flash card readers, Blue tooth adapters, pen drives, basically anything that has a USB connection can be plugged into a USB hub. This would include the novelty items that are becoming increasingly common, Christmas trees, lights, fans, clocks to name but a few.
Any other uses?
It comes in very handy when you need to transfer files and folders from one USB mass storage device to another without wanting to store them on your computer.
I have a silly habit of using it as a must do paper weight, those all important must deal with letters get popped underneath the hub.
Because these have their own power supply they can be connected together up to about 127 hubs. That might sound great, but I think the computer would crash way before you used all the USB sockets. Lets be honest about this, who would want to connect that many together anyway.
Finally one use I would not wholly recommend, but I did try this when I had no other way and it worked with no adverse effect. I plugged the transformer into its power supply then without using a computer I plugged a mobile phone (the type that charges through a mini USB connection) into the hub and successfully charged the phone.
The only problem I have come across when using this USB hub is all about the power supply. When to have it connected and when not to have it connected to the hub.
On a computer one of the things the USB does is send a low voltage electrical supply to whatever is plugged into it. As often as not the item plugged in will be more than happy with the supply it is receiving, however when I started adding more items to the computer by using the hub the power needed to supply them needed to be upgraded and that is where the transformer for the hub comes into play.
The problem does not end there, the only solution as to what does and what does not work with or without the additional power supply can only be solved by the tried and tested method of experimenting. That is not as bad as it sounds, the problems I that I experienced have all been solved, I now know what USB devices are power hungry and require the boost of the power supply and what devices will work happily only taking power from the computer.
Apple Mac OS, Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition / Windows ME, Microsoft Windows 2000 / XP
As with a lot of software and hardware at present Vista users need to check with the manufacturers and or retailers.
Hubs like this were very useful on older computers, especially those that did not have many inbuilt USB ports or the USB sockets on the computer are situated on the back of the machine.
Although more modern computers have more USB ports, the numbers that some people need has also grown, so these USB hubs will always have a use (well that is my opinion).
The problems of power is not restricted to any make of hub, it is better to have a problem that can be overcome rather than not have enough USB ports
For a price of between £15 and £25 this hub offers a great and not expensive solution to the dilemma of not having enough USB ports or having poor access to USB ports.