Review: QacQoc USB to USB Hub with Ethernet

QacQoc is making a name for itself for its environmentally friendly and very affordable line of accessories, most of them with USB-C ports. None of my Macs have USB 3, let alone USB-C, so when QacQoc contacted me about reviewing their very nice USB-C hub, I had to share my predicament. They sent two items for me to review.

The first item I tested was an HDMI adapter for Macs with Mini DisplayPort. It works. And that about sums up the product review. Today I’m looking at a very useful device for those who have a MacBook Air or any other Mac with a standard USB port but no ethernet port.

Officially known as the USB to USB A & RJ45 Hub, this relatively small black device has 3 standard USB Type A ports plus an RJ45 jack at the end for connecting to an ethernet network.

Green Packaging

Both products I received came in a small cardboard box inside a thin cardboard sleeve with minimal packaging. The white outer sleeve measures just 1″ thick, 5.75″ wide, and about 2.45″ deep. It’s shrink wrapped, and there is a slightly heavier cardboard inner box that has cardboard’s natural color.

Open up that box, and there’s a cardboard insert that holds the adapter in place, a plastic bag around the hub, and a note from QacQoc asking if you’re happy with your purchase.

All in all, well packaged for shipment anywhere in the world with a very low environmental footprint. That’s one sign of being green.

Green Construction

What’s the most recyclable metal in the world? Aluminum. It is far cheaper to recycle aluminum than to mine it (I wrote a report about aluminum in junior high 40-some years ago – amazing how some of those facts stick with you forever), and aluminum loses none of its strength in the process. It is easily molded, stamped, or machined – which is how Apple has been making its MacBook enclosures since the first MacBook Air was introduced in January 2008.

Macs Without Ethernet

MacBook Air

Coincidentally, that was also the first Intel-based MacBook model without an ethernet port. In fact, it only had one data connection – a single USB 2.0 port. (It also had MagSafe, audio in, audio out, Micro-DVI, and infrared for an Apple Remote Control.)

To the best of my knowledge, the MacBook Air could output 700 mA from its USB port, up from the 500 mA specification because it needed to deliver enough juice to power the external SuperDrive. That means it has plenty of power for the 3 USB ports and the ethernet port on this QacQoc hub. In theory it should be able to provide 500 mA to a single port, which is sufficient for most 2.5″ external hard drives.

MacBook Pro with Retina Display

When Apple introduced the Retina Display models to the MacBook Pro line in June 2012, the enclosure was too thin for an RJ45 ethernet port. These models shipped with 2 USB 3.0 ports and 2 Thunderbolt ports. All you need to add for ethernet is a USB to Ethernet adapter, and the QacQoc gives you that plus 3 USB ports.

USB 3.0 remained a feature of the MacBook Pro with Retina Display line through the Mid 2015 models, after which it ditched USB ports for Thunderbolt.

12″ MacBook, USB-C Only

All desktop Macs have standard USB ports, as does the original 13″ MacBook family and all MacBook Pro models without Retina Displays. With the introduction of the 12″ MacBook in April 2016, Apple adopted USB-C as the model’s only port. It’s only port for charging its battery. It’s only port for Thunderbolt or USB devices. It’s only port for adding an ethernet adapter. But that’s a whole different product, and QacQoc makes hubs for the 12″ MacBook in each of its colors.

PCs and Chromebooks without Ethernet

These devices are essentially plug-and-play on Windows PCs and Chromebooks. In fact, Chromebooks have no other support for ethernet except through a USB device.

The USB Hub with Ethernet

From end to end, this hub is 10″ long. It plugs into any standard USB port and shouldn’t need any kind of software drivers, whether you’re connecting it to a Mac, a Windows notebook or netbook, or a Chromebook with a standard USB Type A port. Instant ethernet, which you may need on the road (some hotels still don’t have WiFi but do have ethernet ports). And the bonus is 3 USB ports, so if you want to use a keyboard and mouse and flash drive with your ‘Book, it’s plug and play.

The hub has a very small white LED (to the right of the final “c” in QacQoc) to let you know that it is receiving power as well as the standard amber and green LEDs on the ethernet port.

Putting the Hub Through Its Paces

For the first test, I turned off AirPort WiFi on my MacBook, connected the hub/ethernet adapter, and plugged in an ethernet cable connected to my router. It was immediately recognized by the MacBook and SpamSieve notified me of a software update before I even had a chance to check that the ethernet was working. Very nice indeed!

The next test was plugging in devices to see if the hub could support a 2.5″ USB hard drive. With the standard 500 mA USB 2.0 port on the MacBook, there was not enough power to spin up the hard drive with the 3 USB ports and the ethernet port. That wasn’t exactly a surprise.

I was able to plug in three USB flash drives at once. I also removed a thumb drive and plugged in a mouse, which worked perfectly.

Conclusion

If you have a MacBook with a standard USB Type A port and no ethernet port, this is a relatively inexpensive way to add one. It’s also a nice bus-powered hub at the same time, but it doesn’t provide enough power to run a 2.5″ USB hard drive, which is what you would expect from a bus-powered USB hub.

Amazon sells the QacQoc 3-Port USB 3.0 Hub with Gigabit Ethernet for $17.99. And, of course, it’s backward compatible with USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 as well as 10Base-T and 100Base-TX ethernet.

Keywords: #ethernetadapter #usbhub #usbethernetadapter

short link: https://goo.gl/ibTkC1

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