Ergonomically designed hub provides easy access ports including 7 high-speed USB ports (2 high-power)and stereo audio pass-through for speakers and headset connection.
• Connect up to 7 USB devices: Instantly connect up to 7 USB devices such as mice, keyboards, memory drives, MP3 players , digital cameras to your computer
• Audio pass-through ports: Audio ports located on the front and back of the hub provide convenient connection to headphones/speakers and microphone; simply plug and unplug audio devices directly from the hub, without having to reach behind your computer
• High-power ports: Includes 2 high-power ports that provide twice the power (1000 mA) as standard USB ports
• Always On USB ports: Both high-power USB ports remain powered even when power to your desktop is shut down (ideal for charging iPod, ® mice, PDAs, phones, and other USB peripherals).
This is the third USB hub that I have had for use and I am a tad disapointed with this "feature packed" one. Due to my line of work, I tend to keep up with a lot of such tools and gadgets, so going by what the packaging had to say, and the price to match, I was expecting great things.
Unfortunately I was a little disapointed with it only having two powered usb ports of the 7, only one of which is easily acessible (one powered on top and one on the rear of the unit). On the plus side I was able to run a 2.5" extrnal hard drive on one of these ports for over a week on the trot (my pc NEVER gets turned off) and there was no sign of it losing power at any stage from the quite power hungry device.
The other disappointing thig with this is the audio pass-through ports. Unfortunately this function creates line noise, so when you are listening to speach or waiting for the next track of music from CD or MP3 etc you hear buzzing noises in the background. This resulted from both speakers and headphones and the hub was connected to A, the onboard audio out on my PC. B, to the audio out on a Soundblaster Audigy soundcard, and C, to a USB to Audio adapter then plugged into the pass-through adaptor. The other thing is that the audio cables are very thin, and may not be up to the task of what is required for the modern world of VOIP communication (Skype and such the like). This may also attribute to the line noise.
All in all, other than the fact that there was enough USB ports to fill my needs as a high user of USB devices, I feel that it is not as good value for money as it could be. If they could sort the line noise, and drop the price it would make it a recommendable device for a higher end home user, but for now, I think the manufacturer needs to continue to develop this device to iron out the bugs and drop the price to keep it within reach of the home user and small business clientel.
Almost 3 years ago I was able to test another 7-port hub and at the time found it to be a very commendable unit. However, it has become time for a replacement, one that is more durable than the previous unit, since parts attached to the main board inside it have started to separate and crack away.
It was a case of pure serendipity that at this time Targus decided to join our family of suppliers and offer us this wonderful unit. Comparing it to the Belkin unit, this is missing the 'stackable' design, meaning that deskspace will be at a premium with more than one of these units on the desk. However, what this was lacking in space-saving, it more than makes up for in extra features and style.
7 ports is claims, and 7 ports it has... 3 on the back, two on top, and two more in the front. The two high-power ports are cleverly located, one at the top-rear, and one on top at the back, meaning that you can run one high-power device from a more permanent attachment, and keep one high-power port on top for easy access for devices that require recharging via USB, such as the Sansa Shaker or Sansa e200-series media players. This is particularly important when added to the always-on nature of the high-power ports, for recharging devices without requiring the PC to be operating.
The connections are tight and secure, with no wiggle-room, which means a good solid connection for the plugs. Of course, this means they will be a little tight to insert the first few times, but with gentle, firm pressure you will be able to lock the devices into the hub securely with good solid connections. The pass-thru ports for speakers and microphone make it extremely easy to attach devices such as VoIP headsets.
Overall, this is an excellent unit to consider if you have a number of USB devices you use and leave connected, but also want to have easy access to ports for removable devices, such as portable media players or memory storage devices. It looks good parked up next to your monitor or tower case, can be placed vertically in it's stand, or sit flat on the surface. The only thing I would have liked to have seen would be the abilty to wall-mount it. A couple of keyholes moulded into the base would have done the job nicely... but nothing a bit of skillful drillwork couldn't solve, if you were brave and didn't care about warranties.
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