The Hub of the Matter

USBThe USB 1.1 standard, which in theory allows ‘hot swapping’ of scanners, mousing devices, external hard drives etc. without necessitating the reboot of your Macintosh, has always been a frustrating experience for me. With three or four USB devices for each of my computers, I rely heavily on the hubs that I own — two cheap Belkins that I bought at Staples a few years ago — to get all those devices working properly so that I can get my own work done.

But every time I hot swap a device — like my digital camera — I get over-current error messages. And not all of my devices seem to dependably register each time I start up; I regularly have to unplug and re-plug my Griffin iMate-enabled ADB Kensington TurboMouse in order to get my Mac to recognize that it’s attached. The implicit promise of this standard is that working with these peripherals should be painless, but it’s far from the truth.

Granted, the performance of these hubs has gotten moderately better with each new update to Mac OS X (Panther made a big difference), but not so much that I don’t find myself frequently frustrated by some malfunctioning device. So I’m considering a purchase of a more reliable replacement as I continue to add new devices.

I’ve narrowed it down to two candidates: there’s the T7Hub 7-port USB Hub, which looks decent and bears the imprimatur of a well-respected Mac peripheral hardware vendor, Dr. Bott LLC. On the other hand, I’ve read decent things about the Pertech Hubmaster which seems to herald its proficiency with an absolute disregard for aesthetics of any kind. It seems to suggest that it’s not trying to get by on looks, so you can have confidence in the fact that it’s a rock-solid performer.

Anyway, if you have a hub that you find to be a real workhorse, and you’d feel comfortable recommending it to others, I’d be very interested in hearing about it.



  1. I was thinking about it further today. On the one hand, the Dr. Bott is cheaper. But I just don’t want to deal with USB flakiness any more. I’ll probably go for the Pertech. Warts and all.

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