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When I moved to university last year I had to buy myself a laptop, as I only had a desktop PC before then. I was extremely happy with my laptop apart from one thing, the constant plugging in and unplugging of cables.
Since I like to record music I have quite a few USB devices that need to be plugged in. Add a printer, Ipod charger and external hard drives and you've got a lot of cables to keep track of.
This USB hub was the perfect solution.
The hub is small and stands upright. It looks amazing standing next to my laptop on the desk, all in black apart from one silver button on the front (which I'll get to).
The layout of ports is great as most of them are hidden on the back, but you still have easy access to a single USB port as well as headphone and microphone inputs on the front.
As well as the USB, headphones and microphone, inputs on the front, this dock boasts a heap of ports on the back. Another 4 USB can be found, which will be plenty for most people, although I still use a small simple USB hub off of this as well. The USB are described as "always on". This means that even when your computer is not connected to the hub, as long as it is switched on, the USB ports are active. This is a great feature as it means things you are charging via USB can remain charging even if you take your laptop elsewhere! All the USB ports are 2.0 not 3.0, but that isn't a problem as there are not many devices that are 3.0 compatible at the moment.
What attracted me to this dock over many others is the additional ports that it boasts. The main one to talk about is the video port. The port is a DVI port, which I'm not really sure what it is for, but included is a DVI to VGA adapter. VGA is the standard video out port that laptops and projectors use. This is great as you can have an additional monitor or projector always attached without having to fiddle with the annoying connector with the screws!
There is a network port too, which most people will not require as wireless is so common these days. However I found it extremely useful as in my student halls we only had a wired internet connection so whilst everyone else had to keep unplugging and unplugging the cable, mine was always in the hub.
As well as the headphone out port on the front, there is a speaker output on the back. This is great as I really dislike laptop speakers.
The whole hub connects to your computer via one USB cable. This is amazing as instead of everything I have plugged in normally, I only need one cable. The hub installs automatically on computers running windows 7 and vista, great for anyone who isn't really sure how to work computers well.
A power supply is included for the hub, so no need to try to find the right one.
I love this hub and can only think of a few wee niggles. When I plug it into my laptop, my laptop automatically senses another screen being attached, even though I don't have one plugged into the hub. This means that the aspect ratio on my screen changes to try to be similar to the one it thinks it detects. I've fixed this problem by changing the default setting when the hub is plugged in to the normal setting, but sometimes it reverts. This is easily solved by unplugging and replugging the hub to the computer.
The only other thing is that the hubs USB isn't fast enough to work with my audio interface for recording. This isn't surprising as it requires a lot to work it and going through a chain of ports will take time for signals to pass. Like I said only a wee niggle.
I got the hub for around £80 and I think that is a bargain. The hub pretty much turns my laptop into a full desktop PC and for £80 that is a great deal.
In conclusion I think this is a great hub for anyone with a laptop they move around a lot and have many peripherals that they are always plugging in and unplugging.
Because of the small screen niggle , 4 stars!