My Turn

Quest for a User-friendly Hub

Joshua McKinney - August 22, 2000

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

As I browsed the many Mac catalogues and web sites I noticed something characteristic about USB hubs: Most companies are joining the trend of producing smaller hubs, which means the ports are closer together.

These hubs are fairly easy to use with one or two devices, but problems start to appear when you have something plugged into one of the middle ports. How are you supposed to remove the plug? You basically have to do it with both hands as you struggle to pull the plugs free. You might even have to unplug the surrounding devices, which proves quite inconvenient. One could pull the cord to unplug, but for those people whose parents always told them never to unplug electrical stuff by the cord, safety takes precedence over brevity.

What's a user to do? I thought USB was supposed to be easier to use than previous serial technologies? What I would like to see is a hub with ports on the top of the hub, spaced far enough apart so that one doesn't need paper-thin fingers to get a good hold when removing the plugs. It would also be cool if the lights showing USB bandwidth pulsated back and forth, à la KITT from Knight Rider.

The Interex (XLR8) Iceview hub comes closer to this feedback ideal with its cool USB load meter, but alas, its ports are hidden in the back as in other hubs. Plus, the ports are crammed into one panel. A review of this beautiful hub can be found at on Mac NN.

The only hub I own is a Macally four port bondi hub. It works most of the time (when the beige Epson cooperates with it). The ports are spaced far enough apart to be more convenient than on other hubs, but sometimes it is necessary to hold the hub with one hand while removing devices with the other hand.

I am tired of hubs that try to hide the ports in back and place them as close together as possible. (Names have been withheld to protect the guilty.)

Whatever happened to form follows function? What about ergonomics? As you go shopping for the ideal hub, kindly ask the hub manufacturers for more innovative devices.

Share your perspective on the Mac by emailing with "My Turn" as your subject.

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS news feed

Today's Links

Recent Content

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Custom Search

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Favorite Sites

Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac

Low End Mac's store


Open Link