After almost 2 weeks with my new Mac Pro, I was already missing those front-mounted USB ports on my old Mac Pro. I used them constantly for my iOS devices, USB sticks, my SD card reader, as well as my Arduino. Not having a USB port front-and-center really slows down my workflow. Every time I have to stop what I’m doing, get up, and plug something into the back of my Cinema Display (without scratching it) is a real pain. I know... first-world problems, but something has to be done about it.
I need a USB hub. I hopped on Amazon and came across the Satechi 4-port USB 3 Hub. It’s aluminum, and looked really nice. I thought it would compliment my Mac and my Cinema display nicely. It normally goes for $40 bucks, but it was on sale for $30. I guess being a USB 3 hub, the price is a little higher than you’d expect. I’ve bought cheapie USB 2 hubs in the past for $5 bucks.
From the pictures, it looked top notch. It looked like an accessary even Apple would be proud of. The reviews were decent, so I went for it. I really wanted something that would look at home between a $3000 Mac, a $1000 monitor, and a $300 set of speakers.
Unfortunately, this isn’t it.
I was surprised after opening it, just how cheap it is. Even thought it was $30 bucks, it feels like a cheap plastic toy. I wanted something that was solid and had a little weight to it. Something that I wouldn’t have to chase across the desk trying to plug a USB stick into.
Although it’s metal, it’s very lightweight. I know aluminum is light, but this is too light. There’s no way it’s the “aircraft-grade” aluminum that companies boast about. The base and sides are plastic. It doesn’t seem very durable at all. It feels like it wants to break in my hand. The edges are roughly cut, and almost sharp in some spots.
The base is horrible. I pictured it to be similar to the high-quality, no-skid rubber that Apple uses on the iPod and iPhone docks, but it’s a really cheap silicon-looking pad. It’s almost like 3M adhesive strips. You can also see the 4 screw holes underneath it.
The blue LEDs too are very gimmicky. I mean, are they absolutely necessary? I can see having LEDS illuminate when something is plugged in, be these are on 24-7. To top it off, they’re not even evenly lit. I’m tempted to crack it open and unsolder them. At times it’s actually very distracting.
OK, enough complaining about how it looks. Does it work? I plugged in a USB stick and dragged a 550 MB file from the stick to my desktop. It copied it to the new Mac Pro in 41 seconds. I repeated the same test on my old Mac Pro. It took 2 minutes and 12 seconds. So there’s definitely something to be said for USB 3. As far as I can tell, it works.
They also sold 6 foot USB 3 extension cables. They were only $5 bucks, so I figured I’d pick one up too. The hub sits fairly close to the Mac Pro as it is, but if the day comes where I want to move it to the right side of my Cinema Display, at least I know I have a USB 3 extension cable at the ready.
I’m usually pretty good about buying things that are high-quality, durable, and well-reviewed. I’m not a big fan of cheap knock-offs and impulse buys. I do my homework and I make smart purchases. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve bought something and it’s turned out to be a bad buy. It stinks getting burned.
With that, I hopped on Amazon and promptly took out an RMA to send it back. $30 bucks is $30 bucks.
While looking for a better unit, I discovered Anker
. Their stuff looks awesome. They’re pretty expensive, so I’d like to assume that they’re of a higher quality that some of the other brands. After a few days, my new 7-port USB 3 hub arrived. It’s usually $75 bucks, but Amazon was selling it for $40. It’s $10 more than the Satechi, but it’s well worth it.
I like Anker’s packaging. It definitely looks like a better product. There’s definitely something to be said for going that extra mile with the packaging.
Inside the box is a DC adapter, USB 3 cord, and some paperwork.
As far as the unit, it looks really nice despite being plastic. Not $75 dollars nice, but nice. If I was to pay the full $75, it better be made out of aluminum.
I plugged it in and inserted one of my thumb drives. Although it has a DC adapter, I though it would only be required if you were to plug in a hard drive or something that required the extra power. I thought a little USB stick would just run off the bus. However, nothing happened.
I plugged in the adapter and the hub came to life. I guess it needs it 24-7.
No matter. It’s still a really nice hub. I liked the look of Anker’s stuff so much, I went ahead and also picked up a 4-port USB charger and a 2-port 10000 mAh external battery
I think I have a new favorite brand. I’ll have to see what they have for mice. This Microsoft Mouse
is killing me, and Apple can’t seem to make a mouse to save themselves.