Product Reviews

Road Warrior's Hub

Keyspan packs four USB ports into your pocket.

If you're like me, you've been accumulating USB peripherals lately, because they're just so convenient. And if you're a road warrior, you've probably reached the point of being annoyed at the limited supply of USB ports on your laptop. Needing to unplug your mouse to plug in an external CD burner is a real nuisance.

Keyspan has produced a new USB hub targeted squarely at the mobile market. It's about the size of a credit card and a centimeter thick -- comparable to a PCMCIA Type III card in size. The cable that you plug into your computer's USB port hides inside the hub when not in use, making it easy to tuck away anywhere. When in use, you get four USB 1.1 ports.

The device's major compromise is in the use of an external power adapter that's about half the size of a deck of cards. The Keystone engineers did their best to work around this nuisance by allowing the hub to work in either bus-powered mode or adapter mode. When in bus-powered mode it supplies 100 ma to each connected device; when in adapter mode, it supplies the full 500 ma called for by the USB spec. This won't be an issue for many devices; I had no trouble with my USB trackball or digital camera transfers when in bus-powered mode.

The Keyspan hub works with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, as well as Mac OS 8.0 or greater and Linux 2.4.1 and up kernels.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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