Most helpful positive review
64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Portable, rugged, and designed for ease of use
on November 9, 2013
CURRENT VERSION OF PRODUCT
I am editing my review to deal with the latest version of this product. My earlier review, below, was for a previous version. I also received a review sample in return for an unbiased review.
This is a USB 3.0 port multiplier, or "hub." It is passive design, meaning it isn't externally powered and so shares available power, which comes from your PC/laptop, among the four ports. USB 3.0 provides a total of about 0.75 Amps. This makes the hub best used with passive or low power devices. It's fine for a small webcam, separately powered USB audio, separately powered hard drives, USB sticks, etc. It's not really for things like DVD burners that rely on USB power. This is entirely typical for such hubs.
Like its predecessor, it's lightweight, sleek, and relatively small, but not so small that the ports are crowded together. There's no problem with trying to get USB cables to fit. Like the earlier version, all the ports are on the front of the hub. This is a major convenience and avoids having wires go every which-way. Unlike the earlier version, the ports are angled down slightly rather than up slightly. This make the unit a little smaller but it was definitely more convenient to have the ports angled up.
The other difference is in the connecting cable supplied with the unit. The big improvement is that the supplied cable is long enough and really solid and substantial.
But all in all, despite a couple of design changes, there is no reason to deviate from my 5-star rating. There is a lot of value and convenience in this hub. I prefer it for use in a fixed position, with a desktop PC, but it's very portable and can go in your laptop case with ease.
EARLIER VERSION OF PRODUCT
I'm not sure why this is branded as a "Mac" product because it's a USB hub that will work with a Mac or PC running either Windows or Linux. Hardly any surprises there ... maybe because it has a nice appearance?
This is a 4-port USB hub, powered by the host. You use it as you would expect ... as a port multiplier; plug it into any USB 2.0 port and you end up with four ports instead of one; but you don't end up with four times the charging/running power, you end up with typically 1/4 the power per port. Not an issue if you use these things as intended, with power passive devices such as a mouse, keyboard, thumb drive, etc. Maybe not the best if you want to use a big external hard drive.
But there's nothing new in all this; all passive USB hubs work this way. So why choose (or not choose) this one?
What I like about it is that it's rugged (aluminum case) but still lightweight. What is really good about the design, though, is that it sits flat and exposes the four ports in front and on a slight upward angle (see the product photos on the product page). This makes it *really* easy to access especially if you plug it into a front port on your desktop computer (or just about any port on a laptop). All the cables will exit in the same direction and you won't have the kind of tangle you sometimes get with the really tiny hubs that have ports on all sides.
There are plastic 4-port hubs that are a little smaller and a little lighter, but really not a lot of difference, so if you want a portable hub to throw in your briefcase or backpack, this one will work fine. Be careful with the cable lead, of course, and this will last you a long time.
In the end I decided to use it with my desktop, because of the aforementioned manner in which it sits flat and is easy to access. But I might just get another one for my briefcase and ditch the flimsy plastic unit I carry now.
Disclaimer: I received a sample for review, but I write unbiased and uninfluenced reviews.