Satechi has always made impressive accessories like the 12-port USB 2.0 hub that Mike Rose reviewed last year. Now, the company is delivering speed and a plethora of ports for those with USB 3.0-equipped Macs with a new 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub (US$69.99, currently on sale for $59.99). Let's take a look at this beast and see how it works with a new iMac.
Like the 12-port hub that Mike reviewed, the USB 3.0 Hub is surprisingly good-looking. Yeah, I know that a USB hub isn't something you'd normally get excited about, but this one is impressive. Nine of the USB ports are arranged in groups of three on the top of the unit, with a set of switches that can be used to turn those groups on or off -- perfect for those situations when you don't need to keep a peripheral powered up unnecessarily.
So where's the other port? It's a special port built into one end of the hub with the amperage necessary to quickly charge an iPad. The nine ports on the top of the unit are all equipped with blue LEDs to indicate which banks of ports are turned on, and more LEDs to let you know when a specific port is in use.
The hub supports USB 3.0, meaning you can expect transfer speeds of up to 5 Gbps. It's equipped with its own power supply so you can be sure that all of your bus-powered devices (such as external hard disk drives) are getting the juice they need.
Size-wise, the hub runs about 8.5" long, 1" high, and 1.75" deep. In addition to that iPad-specific USB port on one end, there's a power switch for turning the entire gizmo on or off, while the other end features a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port and the power connection.
With the hub, Satechi thoughtfully provides a monster power supply, a USB 3.0 cable, and some Velcro for attaching the hub to a surface.
When I said "monster power supply" in the previous paragraph, I meant it. This thing supports up to 5000 mA of current, and it's good-sized. It was so large that I couldn't get it through the port in the back of my desk that I snake power cords and supplies through. Fortunately, I was able to use some string and ingenuity to lift the skinny end of the cord up to the hub and plug it in. I also found the AC two-prong plug on the other end of the power supply to be loose-fitting in the socket.
Once I had seven different cables plugged into the hub, it was time to give it a try. The blue LEDs that light up the USB sockets and indicate live connections were not as bright as I had anticipated, which is a good thing. I'm not sure that bright blue LEDs lighting up a room would be desirable.
Speed-wise, I noticed no differences compared to being plugged right into the back of the iMac. What's nice is that all but one of the USB 3.0 ports on my iMac are now empty and that all of the USB cables are now sitting in view as I work with the iMac. For testing USB 3.0 devices, I'll no longer have to yank cables out of the back of the iMac to make a port available.
My only other gripe is that the shiny plastic exterior of the hub collects fingerprints and dust that are quite visible. I'd suggest that Satechi look at making future models with a matte finish that could resist fingerprints.
Now that Apple is supporting USB 3.0 on a growing number of Macs and many external peripherals are turning to the faster standard, it's about time that some manufacturer came out with a USB hub with a decent number of powered ports. The Satechi 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub looks like it will be a popular accessory for a lot of Mac users.
Nine ports plus a dedicated high current port for recharging an iPad
Utilizes the fast USB 3.0 standard
Unobtrusive blue LEDs indicate what ports are currently turned on and in use
Banks of ports can be shut off to save power
Power supply didn't appear to be of very good quality and was physically large
Who is it for?
Anyone with a new Mac that supports USB 3.0 who needs more than just a handful of ports