* Prices may differ from that shownMore Offers
THE BASICS: This review refers to the currently marketed Belkin 4-Port USB hub rather than its predecessor, which is pictured above. The function of this hub is to permit the addition of up to four 2.0 USB devices (or more via cascading, see below) and is self-powered (5V supply) avoiding an unnecessary tangle of wires. It retails at £19.99. THE LOOK: Small mid grey and black device has a single USB port at the front (particularly handy for plugging in devices like flash drives, cameras and iPods that you might want ready access to and removal of) and a dock of a further three at the back, alongside the power inlet and USB inlet (the cable is included) passing from the computer. AC adaptor in black is also supplied as standard. FUNCTIONALITY: 1. DATA TRANSFER at an impressive 480mbps. 2. SELF POWERED - while devices that take their power directly from the USB port (e.g. flash drives) don't require it to be plugged in, most others (that do require there own individual power cable) don't when used with this device. Very handy! 3. CASCADE function means that something like 200 devices could (theoretically) be used by stacking up these Hubs. Maybe not one for the domestic user, but useful in workplace scenarios. SHORTCOMINGS: 1. LIGHTS to indicate when USB ports are working would be a useful addition. 2. LOOKS a little bit shoddy, the join lines between its constituent parts not quite fitting cleanly together. Spoils an otherwise sleek look somewhat. 3. A second FRONT MOUNTED USB port would be useful. 4. Comparatively SHORT power cable might be problematic if your plug sockets aren't directly by your desk.
The Belkin USB Dock Station is a very useful piece of equipment. It makes it possible to plug devices into your pc/laptop without shutting down. I have found it totally hassle free! It does away with the usual 'snakes nest' of cables and clutter all over the place, and can cope with USB, or parallel devices. The 4 port hub is expandable and it lets you connect over 100 USB devices, whether they are digital cameras, printers, modems, scanners, disk drives, speakers, or whatever. The station gives you 4 different types of port to connect to: 1. 4 USB ports for USB devices whatever they are. 2. 2 PS/2 ports for PS/2 mice, keyboards, joysticks and other devices. 3. 1 serial port for use with modems, scanners, and cameras. 4. 1 printer port which will connect most standard printers. You can add peripheral devices without shutting the sytem down and there is a built in over current protection system to protect your pc from damage. Everything looks so much tidier around your workstation with all the leads plugged into this one device. The USB Docking Station comes in a variety of colours, but when I bought mine the choice was purple and green, or green and purple. It is neat and compact and makes it so much easier to have all your peripherals connected at the same time. No more disconnecting the digital camera to use a PDA! I bought mine at Dixon's and it came complete with 6V power adaptor and a 1.8 metre USB cable. The installation software and user guide are included too. I haven't used, or installed anything like this on my pc before and I was pleasantly suprised at how easy and straightforward it was to get it up and running. The user guide is easy to follow and the software loaded first time. This neat little device certainly makes life easier. If you are running out of ports to connect new devices, this will solve the problem .
***This review is of the F5U021u model*** If you are running out of USB ports on your computer then this is a truly superb piece of kit, extremely useful and affordable. It is very small and light (less than six inches long, three inches wide and an inch deep), and comes complete with an A/C adaptor and a cable to connect it to one of the USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports on your computer. The HUB is appears very well made and solid, it is black with a frosted plastic front piece, through which you can see the red power light and four green port status lights. It will take up to four USB devices and uses up one on the computer (so if you have two on the computer, this HUB gives you a total of five free – 1 on the computer, four on the HUB), although it can be daisy-chained with other USB HUBS (USB allows up to 128 devices to be connected via daisy-chaining). The manual is sparse and is in fact printed on the card that is included in the plastic bubble packaging and runs to a total of four lines! But then what do you need? It is only a case of plugging the supplied cable into a free USB port on the computer and the other end into the HUB (different connectors on each end), and plug your USB devices into one of the four free USB ports on the HUB, and that’s it, the A/C adaptor is not needed in every case (see below), but again where it plugs-in is marked. If you have read my previous opinion on the Epson 580 Inkjet printer, then you will remember how disappointed I was at the lack of an on/off switch, because of the ink wastage, well, having this HUB basically gives me an in-line on/off switch. Let me explain, on the side of the HUB there is a slide switch, that gives the option of the HUB being set to BUS (unpowered) or SELF (which requires the A/C adaptor), the card supplied explains that some devices need the HUB to be powered to work, but, and this is the good bit, some don’t (as is the case with my printer and scanner, as it happens - presumably because they each have there own power supply), this means that I can leave the HUB set to SELF (but not plug in the adaptor) and the USB devices are isolated from the computer and if I want to use either of them, I just slide the switch to BUS and the HUB (and they) becomes active…printer problem solvedJ. Although, it means I have to use the one remaining port on the computer for the mouse or it won’t work. Examples given on the packaging for devices that need the HUB to be powered include Modems and Scanners (although mines OK), and those that can be used without the HUB being self-powered include Keyboards, Mice and Game Controllers. I have recently bought a USB digital camera, and have found that this HUB also powers that for downloading the pictures (saves the batteries) and for use as a web-cam with no problems whatsoever (on the BUS setting, I have yet to find a use for the A/C adaptor!). I’d like to be able to list some bad points to balance the review, but to be honest I can’t find any! The only thing against it, is the fact it only has four ports (but then you know that before you buy it), but if it had more ports it would be more expensive, and as this one can be daisy-chained with other USB HUBS, is not really a bad point (I’m clutching at straws here), and anyway, how many free ports do you actually need? Five free is ample for most computers, and the advantage of USB Devices is that they can be swapped about without the computer being turned off. It is compatible with a MAC as well as PC’s, and the following Operating Systems (taken from the pack) - Windows 95 OSR2, Windows 98, Windows 2000 and MAC OS 8.1 or higher, I am actually using it (with no problems) on Windows ME, so add that one to the list! The data transfer rate is 12Mbps (if you want to compare it to other USB HUBS). The downstream power (?) is 500ma per port if Self-powere d and 100ma per port if bus-powered, and it complies with current USB specifications, and both FCC and CE regulations. This little device comes highly recommended and it is a shame that I can only give it five stars (that is how impressed I am with it). It is available for about £30 from Argos, and for under £23 (incl. VAT) from both www.gb.buy.com and www.dabs.com (although delivery charges apply unless the order is for more than £35 or £50 respectively). So, if you are in need of more USB ports, you could do a lot worse than get this model.