Eggtronic Hub-It Review
My desk is overflowing with gadgets. It's no secret that I have long sought a way to wrangle my phones, tablets, headsets, e-readers, and other devices that doesn't devolve into a tangled mess. The Hub-It by Eggtronic uses a unique "cartridge" system to sync and charge up to seven devices at once. This is a creative way to manage lots of devices at once - but ultimately I’m still hoping for a better solution.
The Hub-It is part charger, part USB hub, and possibly part spaceship. Its unique square design measures 6.7” x 6.7” x 1.3” and weighs 8.8 ounces. It features three USB ports, with one on each side (the fourth side has the connector to your computer). Above the USB ports are four cartridges (also one on each side). Each cartridge plugs into a slot under the cover of the Hub-It, leaving only a retractable cable protruding from the device. The four cartridges included with the device are one 30-pin iPod cable, one Lightning connector, one mini USB connector, and one micro USB connector. Using the four cartridges and three ports, you can connect up to seven devices at once and each will have access to both power and data.
If the included selection of cartridges doesn’t match your needs, you can simply pull off the cover, take out the cartridges, replace them with cartridges of your choosing, and put the cover back on – all with no tools required. Besides 30-pin, Lightning, mini USB, and micro USB, Eggtronic also sells cartridges designed for Samsung Galaxy tablets, digital cameras, Nintendo DSi, and Nintendo DSL.
You can use any combination of cartridges you like (including two or more of the same kind), but you will have to purchase each cartridge separately for about $8 each. The cartridges are a proprietary design that do not work with any other device, so you’ll probably incur an additional cost and delay any time you want to reconfigure your setup. If you were hoping to avoid buying additional Lightning cartridges by simply plugging a Lightning cable into one of the standard USB ports, beware: Eggtronic says that iOS devices will only work with the Hub-It if you use them through a cartridge. The Hub-It’s cartridge system is innovative and original – but ultimately, it is likely to be more expensive and less convenient than a device with seven regular USB ports.
Eggtronic touts the Hub-It’s upgradeable firmware as a valuable feature, but in some ways it is actually a drawback. You have to choose between different firmware versions based whether you plan to use devices that support CDP (Charging Downstream Port) mode with the Hub-It; moreover, the firmware installers are Windows-only, even though the device is advertised as being compatible with Mac and Linux. If you’re a Mac user and you want to update or change the firmware, you will have to find a Windows machine or use Boot Camp. By the way, if you’re wondering how to figure out whether your devices support CDP – well, so are we.
Eggtronic says the USB ports on the Hub-It are USB 3.0 super-speed compatible. However, in our tests with high-speed USB 3.0 drives, we found that the data rates were actually lower than some USB 2.0 hubs. Eggtronic also advises that the Hub-It should be connected directly to your computer, so chaining it from another USB hub is not recommended.
I want to like the Hub-It. I really do. A single device that manages several peripherals at once seems like exactly what I need. However, the device’s low transfer speeds and overcomplicated firmware, along with the expense of having to buy proprietary cartridges, mean that many users are likely to find that it introduces more inconveniences than it solves. If you are not concerned with transfer speeds and you are not likely to change cartridges often, then the Hub-It may help you to organize your desk. However, for those of us who tend to buy new devices with new connectors frequently – especially Mac and Linux users – it would probably be best to keep looking.
What’s Hot: Charges and syncs up to seven devices at once; cartridges are easy to install and remove.
What’s Not: Proprietary cartridges may be inconvenient or costly; USB ports don’t work with iOS devices; firmware is a hassle.
Web Site: [url=http://www.eggtronic.com]http://www.eggtronic.com[/url]
Reviewed by: Jacob Spindel
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