iHub 7, by Macally
Posted: 4-November-2001

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Macally Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

The iHub 7 is a self-powered USB 7-port hub for your Macintosh. It comes with connections for up to 7 USB devices, and includes 6 interchangeable color "jackets" as well as support for keyboard boot-up.

The iHub has a "spider" design, in that the connections are situated on boths sides of the hub (rather than all grouped in the back as in most other hubs). My first reaction to the design of the hub was that it looks outrageously cool. The iMac theme see-through design is well done, and being able to select your own color is a big plus. You can choose from graphite, snow, ruby, sage, indigo and orange. The graphite matches my G4 tower the best, but I went with the ruby because it just looks cooler.

Once I had some devices hooked up, my second thoughts on the design questioned having the ports spread out so much, and on both sides. With all 7 ports in use, you end up with USB cables sticking out everywhere, requiring you to work a little harder to keep your area organized. On the other hand, I've used several other USB hubs where the connections are in the back, and have found that they are a pain to get to sometimes. On models where the connections are close together, even after you get to them, it also becomes difficult to insert and remove the cables. Given that many of my USB devices, such as my Rio MP3 player and my digital camera, are not permanently fixed peripherals, the iHub design works to my advantage, having the plugs spread out and easy to access. It makes sense that the USB hub should not necessarily be designed like an ethernet hub, because while ethernet devices are generally fixed, USB devices are not necessarily so.

The iHub also supports powering up your computer from the keyboard. For those with newer Macs, such as me with my G4, this is a welcome feature. We've all been raised with that ability, and then had it taken away. The Macally iHub gives it back. You must use either port 1 or port 7 to have the keyboard bootup. This was a smart design decision, as port 1 and port 7 are on opposite sides of the hub; therefore, you can situate either side against your back wall depending on how many ports are to support fixed devices. In my case, I'll have more fixed devices, so I put the side with 4 ports against the wall, and I have 3 ports forward, allowing for easy access to hook up my Rio or digital camera.

In terms of stability, the iHub works flawlessly. It's self-powered (meaning that it has its own power source), so you can use all 7 ports with any combinations of USB devices, and everything works great. It nevers seems to heat up; in fact, it's shell is quite cool (this time I'm talking in terms of temperature). The Mac automatically recognizes when devices are connected and disconnected. I could not find anything to complain about in terms of operability.

In summary, this is the best USB hub I've used. It supports up to 7 USB ports, including two ports which allow you to boot from your keyboard. Functionality is superb, and the case is stylish (including several choices for color). I prefer having the "spider" design, but to help ease the chaos of cables everywhere, I would have preferred to have connections only on two sides, one side dedicated to the wall and the other for the front. The iHub uses a third side for the main USB hook up to your Mac as well as the power supply, creating the need to find a way to route the cables so as to lessen the clutter of cables on your computer desk. All-in-all, Macally has a winning product with the iHub 7, and I highly recommend it for anyone with USB needs.

Pros

  • Highly stable
  • 7 ports, including 2 for keyboard booting
  • Stylish, with choice of several colors
  • Easy access to plugs

Cons

  • With cables coming out of three sides, cable routing becomes an issue


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice