What do you Need to Know about USB?

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Ponzi called me while shopping with some questions about USB Hubs. I realized that many people may have the same questions, so I decided to try and answer some of those for you in this video. Her first question was “What is actually the difference between 1.0 and 2.0?” and the other one was “the price difference between 4 slots and 7 slots is only $10… so which one should I get?”

Basically, you don’t have to go with 2.0. However, if you’re going to want to plug high-speed devices into the hub, you will want to go with 2.0. What’s the difference? Speed. That’s pretty much it. USB 2.0 averages data rate of 480 Mbps, while 1.1 only gets 12Mbps. That’s approximately a difference of 40 times faster. You can’t argue with numbers like that. USB 2.0 is considered Hi-speed mode while 1.0 and 1.1 are known as full- speed USB modes.

You should also keep in mind that sometime in the near future, 2.0 will be old, and USB 3.0 will be upon us. It was gone over with a fine-toothed comb at CES 2008. USB 3.0 is rumored to have speeds of 4.8Gbits, if you can even imagine that! It also is purported to have a power system that will cut the juice when a device isn’t being used.

The 4-port USB hub may be $10.00 cheaper, but I would spend the extra money to buy the 7 port. You never hear someone saying that they have too many USB ports, do you? You’re always going to have devices that you need to connect. It’s better to have empty/open ports, than to have a need to connect something… only to find all your ports are full.

“Purple Owl” reminded me that looking for a powered USB hub is also important, to make sure you can support all USB devices (not just those that have their own power supply):

So often I have tried to use a USB hub, and found that it did not work because the hub was not powered. Why is it that almost nobody mentions that it’s SO important to have a powered USB hub? When buying my current hub online, I trudged through pages of specs, and found I simply couldn’t tell whether a hub I was interested in was powered or not.

True! Ponzi also asked me if USB will always work on both PCs and Macs. I assured her that yes, USB devices should always work on either system. The drivers may not always be the same. I’ve had an easier time getting OS X to recognize USB devices, than I ever did on a Windows platform. They usually work easier right out of the box with OS X.

Let’s also not forget that the future of USB lies in wireless. If you wander over to have a read at the USB ‘headquarters’ website, you’ll get the following description:

With more than 2 billion legacy wired USB connections in the world today, USB is the de facto standard in the personal computing industry. Soon, these same, fast, interoperable connections will become available in the wireless world, with the introduction of Wireless USB from the USB-IF. Wireless USB is the new wireless extension to USB that combines the speed and security of wired technology with the ease-of-use of wireless technology.

All in all, USB devices and gadgets are a part of every Geek’s life.

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