Today we take a look at Belkin’s new Network USB Hub which claims to be the most easily configured wireless USB hub on the market — you could probably also say it’s the only wireless USB hub on the market.
Basically, Belkin’s software tricks your computer into thinking that it’s connected to a printer or peripheral directly while they are actually hooked up to your router. Sneaky!
Sounds simple right? Let’s check it out…
This lady sure seems to be enjoying her hardware
On the front you will find a green power LED and two USB ports for easy access. The back is home to three more USB ports (for a total of five), an Ethernet jack, power input, and a reset button.
Front, and my toe
Physically setting up the device is simple: Plug in the power, then connect the included Ethernet cable to your router and you’re all set.
What you need to connect
All set up
As you can see, the device is really compact and unobtrusive. Simplicity FTW.
The setup CD is very straight forward giving you three options on start. “Network USB Hub Manual” just opens a .pdf of the manual you got in the box. While the second option “Install Control Center” does exactly what it says, it installs a control panel. More on that later.
For now we will click on “Setup Network USB Hub”…
Setting this up literally took about 30 seconds. All we had to do was enter the “Ethernet code” and click next a few times. Everything was done automatically. When it was finished it gave us the option to install the control application. Nothing needed to be changed and installation was completed almost instantly.
If you selected yes, after you click “Finish” the control panel will install itself.
The control center is very useful and simple at the same time. It offers options such as updates and allows you to control more than one Network USB Hub. Devices can be connected to one computer at a time and there is a button to request the use of a device if it is connected to someone else’s machine. We have not tried out this function but it is a solid guess that a dialog pops up telling which computer requested the device.
Surprisingly, as soon as we plugged a USB drive into the hub all the usual “new hardware found” bubbles popped up and we were instantly able to access the drive through the file manager. Peripherals plugged into the hub can be set to automatically connect to your computer when the control panel is launched. Unfortunately, devices can only be used by one person at a time, so if someone is using a peripheral, you’ll have to wait your turn.
A disconnect button is present to make the device available to others on the network
When connected the control panel application just idles in your system tray while you are able to use the printers, hard drives, and other peripherals connected to the hub as if they were plugged directly into your computer. Using a printer was just as easy. With the proper drivers installed on your computer, printers also work as if they were connected directly.
The Network USB Hub is a clever way to share and decentralize your peripherals. Because it sits halfway between a dedicated print/storage server and a regular old USB hub, it’s hard to classify this device exactly. However, Belkin has created something unique and very useful, so they are to be commended.
Mac drivers will be available in September