Using a laptop for the majority of my computing needs has it's ups and downs, on the one hand I have great portability and save on space, on the other hand I'm shoeboxed into a tiny little black box. One of the more annoying things about having a laptop as your main computer is plugging in your USB peripherals. I like to use my printer/scanner, my wireless keyboard and charge my iPod all at once, a process which quick becomes a jungle of cables when you have to use the integral ports on my laptop.
Enter the USB hub, the computer equivilant of the multi-plug adapter we all have behind our TVs. A USB hub allows you to plug in multiple USB devices through the one USB port on your laptop or home computer. Very useful as you can leave all your peripherals attached to the hub and only have to plug in and out one USB cable everytime you wish to use them.
The USB hub I chose for myself was the Cables to Go 4-port Aluminium USB 2.0 hub. I chose this model as I wanted a sturdy hub which would bend or break under the strain of all my printers and harddrives. At £10.34 frmo Amazon this USB hub is slightly more expensive than some of it's rivals. In this case however you really do get what you pay for. The black aluminium case of the hub feels strong and well made in your hand. I couldn't imagine every breaking this hub, regardless of the abuse thrown at it. It comes with 4 separate USB 2.0 ports and a 20cm cable to plug into your laptop. The beauty of USB 2.0 is that you can charge your brand new iPod and copy 20gb of files to your harddrive at the same time without missing a beat. I don't have any specific figures for the speed of this hub but I noticed no decrease when compared with plugging a device in directly.
Installation is nearly non-existant. Just plug in the hub and attach a device and you're away. I'd say it took me about 2 mins from receiving my Amazon package to charging my iPod. Due to the aluminium casing this hub is heavier than most of it's rivals. That said, it's useful to have it weighed down on your desk so that it doesn't move every couple of seconds whenever you tip a wire.
Overall I'm quite pleased with my purchase and it has reduced the tendancy of my usb cable to wrap around each other and tie themselves in knots!