Reasons You Need A USB Hub
Last Updated on May 1, 2021 by Gabriel Goddy
Are you searching for a reason to get a USB hub? In this guide, you’ll find so many reasons you need, to get a USB hub. There are so many ways in which USB hubs can be helpful to you, but you can only find out if you read through this guide. Hence, we encourage you to read through this guide.
USB Hub definition:
A USB hub is a device that expands a single Universal Serial Bus, USB port into several so that there are more ports available to connect devices to a host system. For many of the latest USB hubs, it will expand to additional USB connections as well as other forms of connection including Ethernet, HDMI, SD card, etc.
USB hubs have become commonplace, being used in many areas to expand the connectivity for a single USB port. In particular USB hubs are used with laptop computers where often a limited degree of connectivity is provided, and there is the need to expand the level of connectivity.
In particular, a USB hub expands a single port into several, enabling more USB ports to connect to the host. In addition to just providing USB connectivity, many USB hubs provide connections for HDMI, Ethernet, VGA, SD, and other memory cards, etc. In this way, the USB hub enables the computer to link to a host of other interfaces as well as USB enabling a huge variety of connectivity to be achieved.
Today, USB hubs are an essential item for many laptop users, as some laptops only provide USB-C connectivity, but need to interface to screens via HDMI, broadband via Ethernet, headphones via a jack socket, hard drives via USB or Firewire, etc. Modern USB hubs are able to provide all this connectivity and more.
Most of the new USB hubs have USB 3 capability, and soon there will be USB 4 capable hubs. Fortunately, as there is a lot of legacy USB equipment around, the hubs are backward compatible, thereby enabling the latest equipment and hubs to work with older items.
Types of USB hubs
There are a variety of different types of USB hubs that are manufactured to meet variable user demands. You can use an expansion card that adds a USB hub to a desktop computer. An open slot enables you to use a USB hub with older machines that may not be equipped with USB ports.
The most common type of USB hub is a stand-alone unit that expands the capabilities of a computer with at least a single USB interface. These can be divided into those hubs that are bus-powered and those that provide their own power.
Bus-powered USB hubs obtain their power through the connection to the host machine which can be a computer or another USB hub. This variety of hubs is more portable as there is no need to find a power source for the device. They are also generally less expensive than a self-powered hub.
There is a tradeoff involved if you choose to use a bus-powered USB hub. Your computer is now responsible for powering the hub as well as the attached devices if they do not provide their own power. Laptop batteries will drain more quickly with this type of USB hub configuration and the host machine’s performance can be negatively affected.
Employing a self-powered USB hub eliminates these potential issues. You will spend more when purchasing this type of hub and it will result in another cord on your desktop that needs to be plugged into a power source. The main benefit of a self-powered hub is that it can be used to charge and power your peripheral USB devices with no impact on your computer.
USB hubs are available that support either the USB 2 or USB 3 protocol. The connectors and ports are identical so either kind of hub can be used with your USB devices. In order to achieve the full speed and performance offered by USB 3 devices, you will need to use a USB 3 hub. All components, including cables, connections, and hubs need to fully support USB 3 to reap the benefits afforded by the newer protocol.
Small devices such as tablets and cellphones can make use of micro USB hubs. These are great for charging multiple devices simultaneously or for transferring data from external sources to your mobile device.
Reasons Why You Might Not Need a USB Hub
USB hubs are useful, but they’re not for everyone. There are instances where you’re better off saving your money or taking a different approach to solving the problem.
- Don’t Get a Hub If You’re All Wireless
A lot of devices have made the move to wireless connections. You can now find Bluetooth-enabled keyboards and mice, while printers, scanners, and external hard drives can live on your Wi-Fi network. While there are some good arguments against using Bluetooth devices, wireless connections are very convenient.
As such, if you hate wires and plugs and want everything to connect wirelessly, you may not need a USB hub. If you’re only using your USB ports for two-factor authentication keys or memory sticks, a hub may be overkill for your use case.
- Don’t Get a Hub If You Have Extra Ports Hiding on Your Hardware
Many monitors now come with USB ports for connecting and powering devices. If you can use an HDMI port to connect it to your computer, you’ll be getting a port or two (or more) without taking up any of the USB space that’s provided by your computer.
Routers often have a number of USB ports as well, and these can be used to connect some devices. This works best when you’re connecting something you don’t need to access very often or if your router is close to your computer, so it might not work for everyone. Despite this, it’s another good option.
- Don’t Get a Hub If Something Else Can Do a Better Job
Imagine you have two plug sockets next to your bed. Your USB charging plug uses one socket, and a bedside lamp uses the other. You want your phone and your fitness tracker by your bed, so you can quickly grab them in the morning. However, you want to charge both devices overnight on one socket without swapping the cable.
While a USB hub can help, a USB mains adapter is even more useful. These adapters are like a USB hub, except they also have a standard plug socket on them. In the above example, you can purchase a USB adapter with two USB ports on it. That way, a single plug socket can accommodate the lamp, phone, and fitness tracker at the same time. Some even have surge protection built-in to protect your devices from electrical spikes.
If you want to dream bigger, you can even get plug extenders with USB plugs installed on them. This makes for a great balance between your USB devices and your household appliances; just be sure not to overload it!
You can also get plug socket wall fittings with USB ports built-in. If you want to do some home renovating and need more USB ports, this is a great way to expand your charging options.
What you should look for in a good one
Though USB Hubs are basic devices, with limited features and simple instructions, there are a few important aspects that put a special emphasis on good quality ones. Apart from the cost of such a device, it is important to take into consideration the features of the product itself, its overall durability, or the quality of the customer service that backs up the respective device. But let’s have a look at each one of these categories:
- Hub features:
One of the main features to consider when buying a USB hub is how many extra ports it can add. Make sure you choose the one that best adapts to your real needs. It is also advisable to check if the device comes with a cable you can attach to your PC or if you have to purchase your own. In addition, you should also check if the device includes a power adapter for those types of connections that need a greater power output.
If you wish to connect input devices – such as game controllers, a mouse, or a keyboard -, you can choose a USB 1.1 bus-powered hub (also commonly known as a simple USB Hub). Nevertheless, the USB 2.0 types, also known as High-Speed USBs, are much more versatile and are able to provide sufficient power for almost any type of USB device.
- The overall durability:
If you purchase a USB Hub that is able to add several ports but fails when it comes to handling the extra load is not of much use. So maybe gathering some previous information from users’ reviews about their durability and performance might not be a bad idea. Check the sturdiness of its construction. Some devices overheat extremely easily and can break without undergoing real pressure.
- Help & Support:
There are available products that offer lifetime warranties. This means that the device is practically guaranteed against failure for as long as you use it. Other types of devices offer more time-limited warranties that can range from one year to several ones.
Apart from the product’s warranty, you should also check if there is an available telephone line, live chat options, and e-mail support. A quality Help & Support service means that there will always be someone available to answer your questions and help you deal with any type of problem.
If you’ve read thus far, then you already know what the benefits of owning a USB hub are. USB hubs take so much weight off our shoulders when it comes to laptop connectivity. It’s important you get a USB hub you’ll be doing yourself a lot of good.