Possibly the best directly connected USB hub for your MacBook Pro

02_Elecom_USB_packageWhen I say that I’ve looked for the best USB hub for my MacBook Pro, believe me, I really have. Almost everyday I scour the vast Internet in search for what I deemed as the best USB hub for the MacBook Pro. Specifically, the current Unibody MacBook Pros.

If you use a 13″ MacBook Pro like I do, it wouldn’t be long before you realise that 2 USB ports just isn’t enough. So the only alternative is to get a USB hub to extend your ability to plug in more devices at the same time. And sure, there are indeed plenty of USB hubs of all sizes, shapes and colours out there in the market. But most of them plugs to your MacBook via a cable. While that’s generally not a problem with desktops since your PC isn’t portable, cables can be cumbersome to handle when you want your notebook to be portable. If you only have those extra long cables that these USB hubs sometimes bundles along, well, things do get tangled up pretty quick. If the cable is a short one, then yes, things may be better but the hub would still be dangling and swinging around when you are moving about with you notebook tucked in your arms.

The alternative is of course to find the ideal slim and portable USB hub that directly connects to your notebook without any cables, even better if the form factor allows you to just leave the hub on the notebook all the time, even in your bag! You’d think that these kind of USB hubs would hugely demanded that there would be a bunch of choices for you to pick your fancy. But as I’ve found out, this simply isn’t the case. In fact, to date, I’ve only come across 4 (including this one that I would be recommending) that attaches directly to your notebook (or PC). The first one is the Belkin F5U706 7 Port USB 2.0 Hub-To-Go. This specific hub looked really promising, but alas, the size of the hub was too thick for the MacBook Pro so that’s a no-go. The second one is the Belkin F5U415 Swivel Hub. While the Swivel hub would fit ok with the MacBook Pro, I just didn’t like the swivel itself as it seems to be a ‘flimsy’ mechanism to me. The third one was a very promising one from a company called Tech-Titan with their TT-UH105 4 port USB hub. I didn’t manage to get my hands on it since it wasn’t easily found in any of the stores within my vicinity and before I would find an online store that would ship the hub to me, I found myself the fourth candidate which I of course bought.

And that brings me to Elecom’s U2H-TZ300B series. It comes in both black and silver. And for obvious reasons, I went with the silver model. And yes, the colour is close to the MacBook Pro’s aluminum unibody. :)

01_Elecom_USB_packagingThis is probably one of the most elaborate packaging for a USB hub that I’ve ever bought. Especially since all it contains is the hub itself, a extension cable and 3 USB plug covers. Before you read further, I’d like to point out the U2H-TZ300B is a USB 2.0 hub, not the newer USB 3.0 ones found in the latest MacBooks. This isn’t a problem for me since my MacBook Pro does is an older model which still only has USB 2.0 ports. So if you absolutely need a USB 3.0 hub, then this specific product isn’t for you. However, I’d like to urge you to still read on to see why I think the form factor of this hub is just so great. Perhaps, you may only just need one USB 3.0 port most of the time and therefore still can consider this USB hub for you use.

02_Elecom_USB_packageBut as you might have also already noticed with your sharp eyes, the price of this particular USB hub isn’t cheap at all. It cost me a whole SGD$19.90 (roughly US$16). On Elecom’s website, they listed it at ¥1680, so the price I bought it at a local electronics store is slightly cheaper that its listed retail price. Phew!

If you’re looking for it online, you can buy it here and it seems that it’s the only online store that you can buy it from. Now it’s a site that’s directly translated from Japanese so the descriptions is simply way off.

Then again, those USB hubs from Belkin aren’t cheap either and this one from Elecom is actually cheaper than the Belkin ones. The question then is if they are worth the price I paid for, especially since I’m used to getting free USB hubs from various tech events I attend or deliver keynote presentations? Let’s take a look then.

03_Elecom_USB_sideview
In terms of the built quality of the USB hub, I’ve to say that it feels rather plasticky despite how it might have presented itself within its packaging. For its price, I’d preferred that it felt more solid. And the rotation if the hub is also felt ‘loose’, so a slight nudge would already rotate the hub on its axis. But left alone, it would still hold its position.

04_Elecom_USB_port

But the form factor of the USB hub is pretty much exactly what I had been looking for. So I’m willing to forgo on the built quality of the hub. The following photos pretty much shows how the USB hub seems almost as though it was built for the 13″ MacBook Pro! The only problem you will face is if you need to plug a large USB device or cable that would be blocked by the hub. Then again, you could now plug those devices to the hub instead!

In my short experience with the Elecom U2H-TZ300B, I found it to be the best USB hub to fit my MacBook Pro indeed. The only downside I found was it being a USB 2.0 hub and the plasticky built quality.

The other thing to also note is that the hub does not draw enough power to charge an iPad. Charging iPhones and plugging in an external hard disk is fine though. So the fact that the iPad cables fit perfectly on the other USB port on the MacBook Pro works great!

I was lucky that I found this in a local electronic store (Best Denki) where i reside. And as I noted earlier, I could only find it sold online at The Rakuten store (link here). And again, do note that the store is originally in Japanese, and the link has its content machine translated automatically, so the description does not make any sense at all. (Think “all your base are belong to us”, only worse!).

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2 Responses

  1. Scott says:

    Awesome, thank you for this really helpful article! I was looking for something exactly like this for my macbook. I also found this one: http://www.amazon.com/Portable-Black-Port-Laptop-Notebook/dp/B0057UKLJ8/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=2QUV44IATOJS2&coliid=IYM6MABLY1HTX

    Which is similar, but the reviews on Amazon say that it is really flimsy build quality. This Elecom looks like it’s built a lot more solid. I’ll definitely be ordering one!

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