Review: Joytek High Speed 7 Port USB 2.0 Hub

Most modern PCs are designed with an abundance of USB sockets. Great; exactly what the doctor ordered. Then pop along to Amazon and eBay happily buying a plethora of USB gizmos from fans to phone docks and you realise that the cable with your device is 1m long and the PC under your desk is 10cm further away than the cable will reach. Then when I want to remove that device and attach it to another PC there is the great cable hunt as I root around spaghetti junction, invariably unplugging at least one vital device before I get the correct one.

So off I went shopping for yet another office gadget to help me with this problem.

There are all sorts of solutions out there, mass-produced in gay abandon by our Chinese cousins. I use external USB hard drives and charge my phone and tablet from my PC so I wanted a powered USB hub. As ever, when I look for desktop kit I want it to be compact, well designed and generally a nice item to have on my desk. With that remit in mind, I bought this High Speed 7 Port USB 2.0 HUB from Amazon.

Out of the box it looked the part. A sleek, piano black centrepiece edged in nice tactile rubber moulding with the option to sit it in a simple desktop stand. I thought this to be the best option although it also looked okay lying on its side.

On the side of the hub with the power inlet, there is a cool looking blue LED. In low light this slightly illuminates the other ports from the rear. All in all, a very nice looking bit of kit clearly designed with a little care and attention. A miracle considering the bargain price.

On to testing. The first thing I noticed was that the connection from the hub to the PC is via one of those square USB printer connection affairs (Geek tells me it’s a “type B”, whatever that means). The supplied cable is a useful 2M long. Luckily for me my PC wasn’t 2.1m away from where I wanted the hub!

This cable connects on the same side as the power adapter. On this side of the hub there are 2 standard (“type A”!) USB sockets. I started by testing my little BlueTooth keyboard receiver and found the connections were well made and solid. The connector located easily and immediately found my keyboard. So far so good. Next I tried my iPhone 5, which is usually very selective about what it will charge from; the hub sailed through that test as well. Similarly with my tablet and then my desk fan and all was looking great.

I moved on to my external USB drives and it was here that this funky bit of kit came unstuck. It simply didn’t have the juice to run the drive which was a real shame because up till then it was looking like a faultless piece of tech. I could hook it up to a powered external drive and it was fine; for some reason it wasn’t getting the juice it needed from the hub that it could get from a PC.

A bit disappointing but weighing it up as a whole it has allowed me to remove a load of inaccessible cables from behind my PC and does mean I have a nice looking accessible USB port for any new desktop paraphernalia, providing it isn’t too power hungry.

On the downside I need to finish up this review now and go and pull my hard drive from the back of my…………

[easyreview title=”Dummy rating” icon=”dummy” cat1title=”Ease of use” cat1detail=”The very essence of plug & play” cat1rating=”5″ cat2title=”Features” cat2detail=”Perfect performer until it fell at the last jump” cat2rating=”2.5″ cat3title=”Value for money” cat3detail=”I have seen these going for as little as £4 but for the £8.93 I paid, it feels like good value” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Build quality” cat4detail=”It’s nice, it’s tactile, it looks cool!” cat4rating=”4.5″ summary=”A tad disappointed at it not powering my USB drives but even so, I liked it enough to buy another for home.”]

Review: Sinjimoru Sync Stand for Apple iPhone 5 Dock, Cradle Holder

£19.99 from Amazon.

I’ve long been an Apple fan (well a fan of the core devices they produce – not of the way they extort loyal customers with ridiculous prices for add on-consumer products). So when I got my iPhone 5 on the day it was released to the UK, my plan was to hang fire for a month or two and wait to see what the world of eBay and Amazon would deliver in the way of gimmicky add-ons. In particular, I always like a second charger and a dock station so I can charge and view my phone at my desk. Months after the iPhone 5 release nothing has been officially produced by Apple and the Lightning cable is still very expensive but I found this nicely designed dock that claimed to tick all my boxes.

iPhone 5 dock

Initially I was attracted by the design and the fact it worked by integrating my existing Lightning cable. It looked to be a good bet, especially if you were to believe the Amazon reviews.

On opening the dock, I was pleasantly surprised by its quality and feel. It appears to have been machined from aluminium and then plasti-coated. It is a solid and compact little design and looks as good on my desk as it did in the pictures on Amazon. It comes with a couple of adaptors to allow either the new Lightning or the older pin charger to be threaded through the dock and mounted. In this way, the phone can (theoretically) sit on the dock and over the charging point, with the cable inserted into the phone. I’ve only tested this with my Lightning-cabled iPhone 5, and it’s here that I started to have problems.

iPhone adaptors

The connection is unreliable at best. The Lightning cable pushes through a transparent base plate and the thickness of this base plate seems to affect the quality of the connection into the phone. Don’t get me wrong, if you wiggle it about a bit it eventually, sometimes connects but that’s not really what I want from a dock on my desk. I want something solid and easy to click in, which brings me to my next point. The way the dock seats the phone means it’s almost entirely supported by the Lightning cable’s connector. When this was the older style pin that might have been ok, because it was wide and robust but with the Lightning pin: recipe for disaster.

iPhone 5 docking station

For me, this has become a (very!) expensive stand for my phone that doesn’t charge or sync my phone. I have no idea where the other reviews came from on Amazon because it just doesn’t work. I’ll give it 1/2 simply because it looks pretty!

[easyreview title=”Dummy rating” icon=”dummy” cat1title=”Ease of use” cat1detail=”Well, it only works as an expensive stand” cat1rating=”0.5″ cat2title=”Features” cat2detail=”Simply doesn’t work as described for the iPhone 5″ cat2rating=”0″ cat3title=”Value for money” cat3detail=”Mmmmmm!! Feel like I’ve been conned on this purchase” cat3rating=”0″ cat4title=”Build Quality” cat4detail=”It’s a shame it doesn’t work. It’s very nicely built” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”I’d seriously avoid this if you are after an iPhone 5 dock. It’s useless.”]

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Review: Basic XL Noiseless USB Desktop Fan

£5.99 from Amazon.

Noiseless USB Desktop Fan

A simple USB powered fan that claims to be silent.

It’s cheap and it’s cheerful and barely worth a review you might think. I work in a very warm office though and have bought a number of these at varying prices; some have been very poor indeed!

I bought this one from Amazon and it was free postage so all in all a cheap little thing to buy. As you can see from the picture, it looks kinda cool and in the flesh it is a nice little compact fan that’s about 16cm high, 14cm across and 9cm deep. It has a generous USB cable and looks good on my desk.

The first thing you will notice when you take it out of the box is it’s quite flimsy. Whilst the black gloss plastic looks cool, it bends and flexes just getting it out of the box. It is very light though.

Having said that about its general quality, it has 3 foam feet to reduce any vibration and for what it does and how small it is, I don’t think it warranted being constructed of anything more robust. Although it feels a bit flimsy it does seem to be correctly formed and engineered as a product.Noiseless USB Desktop Fan

Plugging it in, it instantly kicks into life with no fuss and has a good quality on/off switch on the back of the main fan body. I wouldn’t say it’s silent but it is very quiet and not a distraction at all to have on my desk.

So then, how does it actually perform? I work in a warm office and on occasions the air con just doesn’t cut it and I need a bit of a breeze to circulate the air without blasting papers off my desk. This fan is no tornado, far from it, and I’ve found it needs to be positioned within approximately 60cm of my face for me to get any kind of effective breeze from it. But do you know what? That’s all it needs to do. It’s small, great looking, very quiet and circulates the air around me nicely if positioned relatively closely. All in all, a great buy and excellent value for money if you remember that it is just a mini USB fan.

[easyreview title=”Dummy rating” icon=”dummy” cat1title=”Ease of use” cat1detail=”Plug it in and away you go. Simple as can be.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Features” cat2detail=”Maybe would have benefited from a 2nd speed.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Value for money” cat3detail=”At £5.99 delivered it’s decent value.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Build Quality” cat4detail=”I guess it’s sufficient for what it is but could have been a little heavier.” cat4rating=”3.5″ summary=”A good cheap price for a an above average product that does exactly what it says on the tin.”]