2005-04-06

Death to goofy plastic boxes

At work, I have to use quite a few USB devices and I also use CF and SD flash cards. Currently, I use some silly card readers from SanDisk that have cords that are way too long and they take up way too much space. I also have a USB hub that doesn't space the ports apart far enough to actually use them all and it is poorly designed for me since all of the ports are on the back. I got tired of my setup at work and decided to find something better.

All I found was a wasteland of flimsy, ugly, me-too plastic boxes. It seems that most USB hubs these days all include the following design criteria:
* Plastic, the more the better
* Rectangular, don't forget to round the corners
* Silver, LEDs are spiffy too, but silver is required

I don't think I'm all that demanding. I just want a nice USB hub with built-in flash card readers. I define nice as:
* Good build quality - give it some heft so it doesn't slide all over
* Thoughtful design - let me get at the ports and space them far enough apart that I can use all of them. Make the hub power supply stay in. Barrel jacks suck.
* Tasteful design - Metal is good. Wood would be fine. I have no need for see-thru plasic windows and the LEDs are usually more annoying than useful.

Let's take a quick spin around the web and see the junk that is available.

Adaptec - Goofy little plastic boxes

D-Link - Goofy little plastic boxes

Linksys - Goofy little plastic boxes

Belkin - Gggggggggggoofy plastic boxes


Targus - At least they have the best looking Goofy little plastic boxes

Keyspan - Goofy!

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Now, I did find a few devices with potential, but even these didn't wow me.

Macally - Attractive hub plus card reader. It figures that this would look halfway decent. It's marketed to Apple owners.

Iogear - I like the vertical design and styling. Unfortunately, I read a lot of reviews that say the thing plain doesn't work most of the time and plugged in cables tend to topple the thing over.

Fellowes - This one has an interesting swivel design which would be useful. Too bad it doesn't read flash cards.

Kensington - I like the dome design of this one. Unfortunately, no flash card readers and I read bad things about plugs not fitting in to it well.


Maybe something will come out of all of the Mac mini accessories. The Mac mini is begging for a USB hub and card reader that matches it. Given a decent weight, I might look at something like that for work.

How about you guys? Anyone have any products that they like that they can share? Have you seen any devices out there that fit what I'm looking for? Links please!

2 comments:

-- I said...

Bah, USB (like Bluetooth) is dead. Let's all go back to internal system addons. I miss opening my computer all the time.

-- I

Jason said...

I agree, slicing my hands on computer cases was a great way to pass the time.

When I want a new USB hub, I prefer to just go buy a 19" Dell flat panel. That's why I have 16 ports on my PC at work :-)

Pretty crafty Ryan, you're Google ads now have USB and Bluetooth ads. Trying to see who will win?