With the proliferation of ever-slimmer laptops and ultrabooks, USB ports are becoming an increasingly rare commodity. If you happen to be among the steadily growing number of folks who find themselves constantly switching between USB peripherals, the Satechi Ultra Portable 4 Port USB Pocket Hub may be the solution for you. Although it doesn’t feature USB 3.0 connectivity and would have benefitted from at least including an AC adapter, its highly portable design and a sub-$10 price tag make it a compelling option for anyone looking to expand their connectivity options.
Measuring 0.5 by 1.9 by 1.9 inches (HWD) and weighing a scant 1.4 pounds, the USB Pocket Hub can easily fit in one’s palm, as it’s smaller than the Satechi 3.0 4-Port USB Hub and, to a more pronounced extent, the Targus Ultralife USB Hub with Ethernet Port. True to its name, the USB Pocket Hub can be carried on your person and barely register as an afterthought; I had absentmindedly slipped the review unit into my pocket before heading out to lunch only to completely forgot about it until I reached for my wallet some time later. Its matte-finished plastic chassis comes in a low-key black finish that, aside from some blue LED activity lights that woozily glow when the unit is plugged into your system, doesn’t scream for attention like the bronze-finished Ultralife USB Hub.
A pair of USB 2.0 ports is housed on the front and backside of the USB Pocket Hub. Like the Targus Ultralife Hub, the USB Pocket Hub utilizes a tethered USB cable that tucks away into the unit’s underside when the hub isn’t in use and can be plugged into one of your computer’s USB ports to give you a net gain of three USB 2.0 ports, which is one more than the Ultralife USB Hub but nowhere near as future-proofed as the three USB 3.0 ports yielded by the Satechi 3.0. Additionally, because the USB Pocket Hub’s cable is shorter than an inch in length, it must always be immediately adjacent to your computer; this may have the unintended consequence of crowding out neighboring USB ports, which can be problematic for folks that fill up all of the USB Pocket Hub’s ports. Although I understand the decision to keep the cable short to reduce clutter, it would have boded the USB Pocket Hub well to follow the Ultralife USB Hub’s example and use a three-inch cable instead.
As one might expect, setting up the USB Pocket Hub requires little beyond simply plugging it into one of your computer’s USB ports, and there wasn’t any noticeable performance degradation when transferring our 1.22GB test folder. Like the Ultralife USB Hub and the Satechi 3.0, the USB Pocket Hub is compatible with Mac (OS 9.1 or later) and Windows (98SE/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7). Moreover, early adapters out there will be pleased to know that it also functioned without a hiccup in Windows 8.
Curiously, the USB Pocket Hub has an AC adapter input but doesn’t come with one. This makes sense, as Satechi likely sought to keep the price low and external power isn’t necessary for connecting keyboards, mice, and many portable hard drives. Additionally, it’s possible to sync most smartphones without additional power. Still, users looking to charge multiple devices will most likely require the added juice, and it would have been worth it if an adapter had been included.
The Satechi Ultra Portable 4 Port USB Pocket Hub is a basic, frills-free solution for users looking to expand their USB 2.0 connectivity options. While it doesn’t feature an Ethernet port like the Targus Ultralife USB Hub with Ethernet Port and doesn’t deliver USB 3.0 connectivity like the Satechi 3.0 4-Port USB Hub, it also costs a fraction of both. Still, we recommend the Satechi 3.0 for its speedy transfer rates. However, the USB Pocket Hub’s inexpensive price tag and portable design nonetheless make it a compelling option worth checking out.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc