Miscellaneous Ramblings

Miscellaneous Ramblings Review

Targus USB 2.0 4-Port Bend-a-Hub with Mini USB Adapter

Charles Moore - 2009.04.20 - Tip Jar

Rating: 4 out of 4

"That Squid Hub is clever!" Low End Mac publisher Dan Knight observed upon editing an item I sent along for last week's 'Book Review news and product announcement roundup.

Squid HubAnd so it is. Dan was referring to the four-armed USB Squid Hub marketed by thinkgeek.com.

I haven't actually used the USB Squid, but I have tested a somewhat similar device marketed by Targus called the USB 2.0 4-Port Bend-a-Hub that is equally clever - and actually has a few additional wrinkles.

Targus, a name many people associate with that company's line of excellent laptop cases, also has a cool, innovative, and distinctive line of computer input devices and accessories in its recently launched Targus for Mac collection.

The Targus USB 2.0 4-Port Bend-a-Hub with Mini USB Adapter allows you to connect the typical four USB devices to a single USB port on your computer, but that's where conventionality ends. The Bend-a-Hub's signature distinction is its literal flexibility, but it also includes two specialty connectors; one of which instead of being mounted on a fourth flexible arm, instead folds out of the central distribution module for the other three ports and can adjust to a 90°r; angle for better accessibility - oriented either horizontally or vertically, making it ideal for connecting a flash drive or iPod. Another of the four downstream USB ports cleverly folds out to reveal a mini USB connector of the sort used by many digital cameras, mobile phones, and PDAs, but which also has a standard USB socket for regular USB connectivity.

Bend-a-Hub with iPod, digital camera, transfer cable, and keyboard receiverHere is the Targus USB 2.0 4-Port Bend-a-Hub connected to my 17" PowerBook with my l'Espion mini-camera, iPod nano, Targus USB 2.0 High-Speed File Transfer Cable, and the receiver dongle for a Logitech diNovo keyboard plugged in.

It may also be possible to charge devices through the mini USB port if the connecting device supports charging through a mini-USB connector. However, there is no provision for self-powering the Bend-a-Hub using an AC power adapter, so the device is dependent upon however much juice your computer is capable of supplying through a USB port, which easily get oversubscribed when multiple current-drawing devices attached, especially on certain Mac laptops (including my new Unibody MacBook, which supplies full power to just one of its two USB 2.0 ports).

The Bend-a-Hub's compact flexibility and easy-to-carry 1.8 ounce weight ideally suit it to stuffing in a pocket or laptop case or backpack when you're in mobile computing mode, although it measures 9" x 7.5" x 1.2" when fully unfolded.

The Bend-a-Hub is nicely finished, seems well-constructed and reasonably rugged, and the cables that connect the ports and plug to the central distribution module are of a reassuringly hefty gauge and have robust anti-fatigue collars where the cables enter the port and plug modules.

Aside from the lack of provision for bus-powering, my only criticism of the Targus USB 2.0 4-Port Bend-a-Hub with Mini USB Adapter is that the female US port modules were a bit stiff about accepting cables being plugged into them, requiring more effort to insert and remove than I prefer, but that's something that likely will improve with repeated use.

The RoHS compliant Bend-a-Hub officially requires Mac OS X according to Targus, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work fine with Classic OS Macs that support USB 1.1. It also supports Windows XP and Vista, and of course requires a USB 1.1 or 2.0 port to plug into.

Limited One Year Warranty

The USB 2.0 4-Port Bend-a-Hub sells for an estimated street price of $19.99.

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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