Belkin Network Wireless USB Hub Review
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Belkin Network Wireless USB Hub Review

by Greg Ross

The Belkin Community USB (NetUSB) Hub is a comparatively new system, and one of many first of its sort.  It lastly guarantees to launch us from the tangle of USB cables with no need to improve your PC to assist WUSB (Wi-fi USB) through the use of your present residence WiFi community.  Does it ship?

Causes for Shopping for

After I moved into my new residence, I had an issue.  There was no cable jack in my room with which to make use of my Hauppauge USB TV Tuner (reviewed individually), so no TV for me.  The closest cable jack was 30-40 ft away, however operating a cable across the partitions and trim would have required me to position about 60 ft in cable and that may have been an enormous trouble and a visit hazard.


The package deal. (view massive picture)

So about two months in the past, I noticed this model new system by Belkin.  And when I discovered it on sale at Circuit Metropolis at $99.99 (down from $129.99) I couldn’t resist.  I might lastly get TV anyplace within the residence!  Or so I believed…

First Impressions

My first impressions of the system had been very constructive.  The NetUSB hub itself is slender Apple Mac Minip trying system that may match nearly anyplace in your house with measurements of 8.1″ x 3.4″ x 8.1″ and two kilos in weight.  It’s constructed from stable plastic that feels agency and robust, and you should not have any downside stacking one thing comparatively gentle on prime…like say your WiFi router!  As a matter of truth, Belkin particularly recommends that as an area saving thought.


(view massive picture)


(view massive picture)

The NetUSB Hub additionally comes with the AC adapter required for operation, and a complementary 18″ lengthy 10/100 Ethernet cable to attach it to your WiFi router.

Setup and Configuration

After putting in the hub into the community infrastructure at my residence, I needed to configure my PC to work with the system.  This system doesn’t simply instantaneously work, however driver set up and arrange was very simple.  Pop within the CD, and also you solely must navigate via two menu selections with the intention to get every little thing working.  All you need to do is select which hub you’re configuring (as if you happen to want multiple!) and select the way you need to assign an IP tackle to the system (DHCP or hardcoded).


Set up … (view massive picture)


Select Ethernet … (view massive picture)


and Configure DHCP. Simple? Undoubtedly! (view massive picture)

Connecting USB Units

After putting in the motive force, you possibly can navigate to the Belkin Community USB Hub Management Heart the place you possibly can additional customise the operation of your system and join to varied USB units linked to the hub.  The one actually necessary setting inside the Common Management Settings menu is one that enables the Management Heart to begin up mechanically whenever you boot Home windows.


Once more, simple! (view massive picture)

As you possibly can see within the display screen shot above, USB units by default are mechanically linked to your PC whenever you begin the Management Heart (both manually or throughout booting).  One of many largest benefits of the NetUSB hub is that you could additionally share your USB units with anybody else on the community.

Nonetheless, the hub solely permits each USB system linked to speak with a single PC at a time.  It is a limitation of the USB specification and is not any actual shock.  Moreover, if you happen to join a number of units to the USB hub you possibly can have one PC accessing one system whereas one other PC makes use of one thing completely else.  In concept you might join 5 units and have 5 totally different PCs speaking with one system every.  Every PC might want to have the Belkin driver put in nevertheless, however arrange shall be very simple.

If you wish to share a tool, you possibly can configure the Management Heart to not mechanically hook up with particular USB units.  However if you wish to request the usage of a tool that one other PC is at the moment utilizing, you can even “Request Use” of a tool and a pop up window will present up in your mates PC asking for permission to take management of the system.

System Linked!

As talked about, units could be simply linked or disconnected from a PC.  So, with our TV tuner linked to my PC, what does the OS see?

Utilizing a USB system viewing device I obtained by way of Microsoft’s assist pages, the OS has this mysterious system linked that supposedly has 64 totally different USB ports.  That’s our software program emulated USB hub that the Belkin NetUSB hub has put in.  The hub itself solely has 5 USB ports on it, and the software program claims to assist as much as 16 totally different USB endpoints if you wish to daisy chain further commonplace USB hubs to the NetUSB hub.  Be mindful although units can have a number of system endpoints.

As Belkin talked about in a single instance a multifunction printer can have as many as 4 or 5 endpoints.  In all actuality I actually don’t see this NetUSB hub dealing with greater than 5 USB connections anyway, so I’d play it secure and assume you’ll solely be capable to share 5 units over the community.


(view massive picture)

After connecting to the TV tuner, what does the OS see although?  As you possibly can see within the image above, the TV tuner is natively acknowledged by Home windows.  Which means the OS sees the system as whether it is bodily linked to my PC.  All units are going to function that means, so this clear software program WiFi <- -> USB driver is not going to intrude with regular system operation in any respect.

Not Suitable?

As you may need seen earlier, the TV tuner listed within the Management Heart has a aspect notice that it won’t be appropriate.  Sure, this could possibly be an issue …

USB specs permit for as much as 500mA of present to energy a linked USB system.  If we had been to make use of a USB reminiscence key, this could not be a problem as energy necessities are small.  Printers or 3.5″ exterior exhausting drives wouldn’t have an influence downside both, as these units usually have their very own AC adapter anyway.  However my TV tuner is self powered, and requires a full 500mA of present to run.

So can the NetUSB hub output 500mA?  In all probability not, and the Belkin instruction handbook particularly says that some units is not going to be appropriate with the hub so remember to take a look at your units earlier than conserving the hub.

I examined this utilizing one other system – my 2.5″ exterior exhausting drive.  The USB cable that got here with that drive means that you can join to at least one USB port to get an information connection and energy, and in addition has a secondary connector that enables the system to acquire some further energy from a second USB port.  It additionally requires about 450-500mA of energy.

When connecting the exhausting drive to the USB hub with just one USB port, the drive was incapable of beginning.  When connecting with two ports, there was no downside.  Clearly, the ports on the USB hub is not going to simply be capable to present sufficient energy to high-powered, self-powered units however a majority of units shall be okay.

Efficiency Analysis

What in regards to the units that do work?  Utilizing my self-powered 2.5″ exhausting drive that’s appropriate with the hub, a spread of assessments had been carried out.

On the time I used to be testing, I used to be often shopping the web which has no impression on the efficiency of my drive.  The bouncing bandwidth chart happens even with no PC shopping.


Efficiency at 10 ft. (view massive picture)


Efficiency at 30 ft. (view massive picture)

As illustrated above, the bandwidth out there with the system actually doesn’t change a lot with distance in any respect.  So long as you have got a semi-strong connection to your community you’re going to get a robust connection to the USB units on the community.

Sadly, there may be additionally one other downside right here.  The velocity of the system is relatively poor.  At a most velocity of about 1.3MB/s, clearly units are going to have a tough time in the event that they run quicker than USB 1.1 speeds.  Whereas USB 2.Zero units are supported, apparently USB 2.Zero speeds aren’t.  An 802.11a/b/g community helps as much as 54Mbps (6.75MB/s) so the community itself is clearly not the limitation.  The NetUSB hub is the limitation.

To substantiate the WiFi community was not the issue, I linked the NetUSB hub and my PC immediately.  The velocity outcomes had been the identical.  The NetUSB hub has a bandwidth downside however something that doesn’t really want a lot velocity will nonetheless be okay.

Two further assessments had been additionally run simply to rule out the potential for my 2.5” exhausting drive being the issue.  A self-powered USB key (which doesn’t require a lot energy in any respect) in addition to an AC-powered 3.5” USB exterior exhausting drive had been examined, and each units skilled the identical bandwidth limitation points.

Is It Proper For You?

Ultimately, for my particular wants this hub doesn’t carry out.  However once more, I’m attempting to get a excessive powered and excessive bandwidth system operating. So the query stays: Why buy this?

For one, that is the one system on the market I’ve discovered that means that you can rapidly arrange wi-fi USB.  It really works with an present WiFi community, and doesn’t require any further {hardware} to be put in on a PC as long as the PC is WiFi succesful.  The identical system could be shared over many PCs (offered you have got some kind of sharing etiquette and disconnect/reconnect to a tool solely as essential) so it additionally cuts down the quantity of {hardware} you might want for all of your PCs.

A majority of USB functions don’t want a lot bandwidth in any respect.  Printers, scanners, exhausting drives, and media card readers will all work okay offered that they’re AC powered.  Even some self-powered units will work high-quality, however not all.  Transfers may be a really sluggish on massive file transfers, however for some/many individuals this is not going to be a problem.  1.0MB/s is loads quick for sharing commonplace definition video and music information, however will not be for backup associated functions.  Excessive definition functions shall be bandwidth restricted although.

For TV tuners and webcam associated functions you might end up scratching your head.  Some units will work, others is not going to.  There’s at the moment no documentation as to what units is not going to work, so remember to buy this system from a reseller that enables returns if in case you have preliminary doubts.  If the Belkin Management Heart says the system might not be appropriate, there actually is not any technique to repair it pending a {hardware} or software program replace for the NetUSB hub.

For media functions, makes use of are restricted as multitasking is sluggish however it’s undoubtedly useable.  Any video viewing together with 1080i/p video is ok, however it’s going to choke if you happen to watch movies and replica massive information on the similar time.  Music runs effectively, and photos are considered with ease.

Conclusion

The Belkin Community USB Hub generally is a useful gizmo for a lot of functions like small file share units, printer sharing, or digicam sharing.  However when the hub has a 1.0-1.2MB/s limitation that’s imposed by the {hardware}, I discover myself scratching my head as to why Belkin marketed this as working effectively with exhausting drives and different USB 2.Zero units that want excessive velocity connectivity.  Even an 802.11g community can output information at a price virtually seven instances quicker!

If the system had been capable of output about 4 instances the bandwidth (4.0-5.0MB/s) virtually all USB units will surely do effectively sufficient as most USB 2.Zero units don’t want the total 60MB/s bandwidth anyway.  4.0-5.0MB/s wouldn’t decelerate most WiFi networks both, and doesn’t even come near saturating 802.11g, not to mention 802.11n.  If the ports might really output 500mA of energy, most units would by no means have an issue both.

Ultimately, this can be a nice first strive from Belkin however some main enhancements are wanted.  Some will just like the system, others is not going to.  Some USB units work, others don’t.  As acknowledged on this assessment, perceive what these limitations of the system imply to you, and determine for your self whether or not this hub is best for you.  Total, I do have a constructive impression of this system regardless that my supposed utility doesn’t work on it.  There are a lot of potentialities regardless of the constraints.

Professionals

  • Nice technique to share USB units with a number of computer systems.
  • Simple to setup, set up, and configure to work with present WiFi networks.
  • Permits for sharing of low-speed NAS (community hooked up storage) units, printers, cameras, and scanners.
  • Most media watching (together with HD movies) runs effectively.

Cons

  • Can solely output about 1.2MB/s of information at finest, so it doesn’t work effectively with high-bandwidth units.  This limitation additional hinders velocity when a number of units are getting used!
  • Doesn’t absolutely make the most of the out there bandwidth of an 802.11g or 802.11n community.
  • Can’t present 500mA of energy per port as per USB specs.
  • Is not going to work effectively for backup drives, webcams, or TV tuners.

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