Belkin Network USB Hub

Belkin Network USB Hub

Belkin Network USB Hub

About a year ago I bought one of these gadgets, and despite the very obvious bugs in the software I was happy enough to score it a 3 out of 5 in an online review. In those days I was using it to share USB devices between two Windows XP PCs and the sheer convenience of not having to unplug certain devices from one machine and plug them in to the other went some way to making up for the various shortcomings this thing has.

Here’s a quick summary of what I had to say about it from the point of view of a Windows user:

  • Looks – neat. Same dimensions as a Mac Mini but about a quarter of the height.
  • Software – easy to install and configure, but buggy. No way to configure safe device removal. Can crash VPN software (e.g. AT&T client).
  • Performance – Ok for printing, downloading pictures off cameras. Very poor on USB hard drives, throttling speed to about 10% of what you get with a direct connection.
  • Compatibility – very hit & miss. No way to know if your device will work without trying it out.

Overall I said that if Belkin worked out the bugs and performance issues then they’d have a winner, but given those issues and the patchy device support I would be very cautious about recommending it.

Printer woes

Printer woes...

Since switching to using Macs, and given the fact that they haven’t addressed any of the bugs since I got this thing a year ago, I can safely say that I would not recommend this device at all. Unfortunately the one thing it seemed good at which was printer sharing, trying to print from my Mac via the hub is now a complete lottery as to whether or not it works. The general principle seems to be that if you want to print something ten you need to have your printer switched on and connected, before you launch the application on the Mac that you want to print from. Not really practical and not actually guaranteed to work either. All too often the hub will cause an error, in which case you then have to try and save what you want to print (not always possible), close the application, restart the printer and try again.

In addition to that, some devices that would connect to a Windows machine via the hub, won’t talk to a Mac when connected the same way. Here’s a table of what success or otherwise I’ve had.

What works, what doesn't.

What works, what doesn't!

If I’d bought this device today for use in a Mac environment I’d be asking for my money back. As it is, I had a reasonable amount of use from it for a year with my Windows machines, but there’s a good chance this little gadget will end up on eBay before long now!

2 Responses

  1. Nice review. I feel the same way; in fact more strongly about the bugs. It is the only thing that has bluescreened my laptop in 5 years of use, and it does this regularly. Two printers and several different laptops experience the same issues and I too found that it was useless to use it to connect to a usb hard drive. Now i’ve bought a mac it is practically useless and I wonder if you’ve had any success with any other usb hubs?

    • Since writing my earlier comment I found I could install the software and use the hub with my macbook pro and two printers (Canon MP and Xerox Phaser) with fewer problems (so far!) than I had under windows. So I’m not as unhappy as I thought I’d be.

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