Product Reviews

Product Reviews

In Brief

Perfect for your laptop bag, this tiny hub adds four USB 1.1 ports to any computer. Plug it in and go, there's no software to install.


Price

$49

Keyspan
Richmond, Calif.


Competition

With more USB devices appearing almost daily, a number of companies are now making USB hubs. Check out ADS Technology, Adaptec, Belkin, and Orange Micro.


Move up to USB 2.0

This Keyspan hub is based on USB 1.1. The newer USB 2.0 standard features a data-transfer rate that is 40 times faster than USB 1.1. But that doesn't mean your USB 2.0 devices will run 40 times faster. Visit the official USB site and learn what Hi-Speed USB is, how it works, and its advantages compared with USB 1.1.


USB Products

Most peripherals are now made with a USB interface. In fact, many printers and external CD burners don't even have a parallel-cable interface anymore. Read Reference Guide's reviews of these USB-compatible products.

Epson C80 inkjet printer

Belkin USB 2.0 upgrade kit

Corex CardScan 600c business card scanner

U.are.U fingerprint PC security device

Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo label printer

Logitech Freedom Cordless Keyboard & mouse

Mimio whiteboard recorder

Plextor 40/12/40 USB 2.0 CD-RW Drive

Y-E Data 6-in-1 memory card reader

Keyspan USB 1.1 mini-hub


desktop peripherals

Keyspan USB Mini-Hub

Rating:

By Joel Shore

So what did you buy this week that plugs into a USB port? Keyboard? Scanner? Mouse? Camera? Printer? Speakers? Headset? Coffee mug? (Just kidding on that last one.) Of course by now you’ve run out of USB ports. Well, Bunky, don’t fret. We’ve found the answer.

The folks at Keyspan have come up with a solution so small, so easy to use, it’s almost hard to believe. And they’ve done it for mere $49.

Keyspan’s 4-port USB Mini Hub is a mere 1 cm thin—and no bigger than a credit card—yet it offers all the functionality of a much bigger desktop USB hub. Though designed for the new generation of superslim laptops, it’s perfectly happy hiding behind your desktop system. The darn thing is even certified for Windows XP. (It’ll work just fine on your Macintosh, too.)

Unlike other "travel" or "pocket" hubs, the Keyspan Mini Hub offers the functionality of much larger desktop units with:

  • Four Ports

  • Supports self- and bus-powered modes

  • Full speed (12 Mbps) USB data rates

  • Full USB specification compliance

  • Compatible with all USB devices

Available in silver or black, the mini hub includes a built-in USB cable that is stored within the Mini Hub's case for carefree travel. No more lost cables—at least for this product!

Set-up in seconds. Nothing could be easier to use. I flipped up the little cover and unfolded the connector cord, which is only three inches long. I could have plugged that cord directly into my PC, but I didn't. That's because I wanted to connect a printer and CD burner that I had sitting several feet away. So, I plugged a USB extension cable into my PC, and then plugged the Keyspan mini-hub into the cable. The great thing about USB is that you can leave the PC turned on while plugging in devices.

I opted to use the external power adapter (called “self-powered” mode), but I could have chosen to omit the adapter and use the hub in “bus-powered” mode, where it draws it’s operating power from the PC. (For those who care about such things, self-powered mode supplies 500 mA of current to each of the hubs four ports; bus-powering supplies 100 mA. Both modes supply 5 volts DC to each port.)

There’s no software to install. Windows XP popped up a message that a new USB device had been found. Seconds later, another message informed me that the device was ready for use. Not a single keystroke or mouse click was needed. It’s the easiest hardware installation I’ve ever done.

Next, I plugged my Lexmark inkjet printer and Plextor CD burner into the mini hub and I was in business. Total time? About a minute.

Keyspan isn’t particularly well known, but if they keep coming up with clever solutions like this, they could soon be a household name.

Reference Guide recommends the Keyspan 4-port USB Mini Hub.<

 
Yeas & Nays

Yea:

4Tiny, great for traveling

4No software to install

4Problem-free operation

Nay:

4Plastic case feels a little flimsy, but worked fine


Compatibility

The mini-hub works with Windows 98 (Second Edition only), Windows 2000, Windows Millennium Edition, and, of course, Windows XP. It does not work with Windows 95, because that platform contained no support for USB technology.

The mini-hub also is compatible with Mac OS 8.0 or greater, Linux 2.4.1 or greater, and Windows CE 3.0.


Going Backward

USB 2.0 is backward compatible with USB 1.1. That means your old devices, like printer and CD burners will work perfectly, but they won't run any faster. To take advantage of USB 2.0's high speed, you need to buy devices specifically labeled as USB 2.0 compatible or sporting the Certified Hi-Speed USB logo.

 
   

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