|Manufacturer: Dr. Bott|
|Min OS X: Any Version|
At IMG, we’ve reviewed a ton of USB gaming peripherals, but we’ve never looked at any USB solutions. Besides mice, joysticks, and gamepads, people have all sorts of USB devices including hard drives, digital cameras, and scanners. As Steve Jobs predicted, our Macs have become the centers of our digital lifestyles. But what kind of lifestyle is it when you only have two powered USB ports on your Mac and you have to continually plug and unplug your peripherals?
Of course, a USB hub is the solution! But which one? These days, everyone and their mother are making USB products and it’s hard to tell which ones are high quality. Sure, it’s likely that any hub you choose will work fine, but as Mac users, it’s our duty to demand more than basic functionality out of a product. We want something that is functional, easy to use, and warrants a double take from our geek peers.
Dr. Bott in DisguiseDr. Bott, which was founded in Germany and brought over to the US, has been marketing a wide range of solutions for the Mac since 1999. From the sleek (but pricey) TiCase to the more practical DVIator adaptor, Dr. Bott have always had functionality and style in mind for their products.Their latest USB hub, the 3-port T3Hub is no exception. Weighing in at 21 grams (less than an ounce!) and easily fitting into the palm of your hand, the T3Hub is extremely compact and portable. PowerBook and iBook users will appreciate the size and the ability to plug in twice as many USB peripherals simultaneously (three times as many for first generation iBook owners). The designers at Dr. Bott were thoughtful enough to include a six-inch USB extension cable to relieve the stress of having the T3Hub plugged in directly to the built-in USB ports.
Of course, desktop Mac owners can also enjoy the slick T3Hub, but Dr. Bott’s “full-sized” gHub or T7Hub might be a better solution.
The T3Hub’s claim to fame and most innovative feature is its semi-self-powered nature (a term which Dr. Bott created just for the T3Hub). All USB hubs come in two flavors: self-powered or bus-powered. A self-powered hub requires a power supply, which plugs into the wall and supports a high-powered USB device for each port (hard drive, Zip drive, etc). Bus-powered hubs do not have a power supply and are only able to drive low power USB devices like keyboards, mice, and gamepads.
The T3Hub fits in between the two categories. It is able to support one high-powered device and two low power devices at the same time without the need for an external power supply. I found this ability to be extremely useful, especially after coming home from work or a trip. I can simultaneously download pictures from my digital camera to my computer and sync my Palm, all while tapping away at the keyboard.
One flaw I found with the T3Hub was the tight USB ports. I had to apply some pressure when plugging in a USB device. After several uses though, the ports loosened up. Also, I didn’t like that the connections with the hub were not flush, like they are with the built-in USB ports on my Mac.
Hub-a-Hub-aIn a time where USB devices are ubiquitous, a USB hub is almost mandatory. Dr. Bott’s T3Hub is an elegant and simple solution that should fit the needs of most desktop and portable owners. The T3Hub is available in graphite, titanium, ice, flower power and blue dalmatian color schemes. Just kidding! Only the first three colors are available to the public at $33.95 each, or $99.95 for a 3-pack.
Pros• Supports one high-powered USB device
• Extremely compact
• Comes with USB extension cable
Cons• A tight fit for some devices
• Connections not flush with hub