A lot of the USB 3.0 hubs we see here at the TUAW Labs have two things in common -- they're fairly good sized and they can only be used as a USB 3.0 hub. Accessory manufacturer Inateck has released the Portable USB 3.0 Hub Model HB4008 (US$39.99, but available for $19.99 on Amazon), which has a few nice differences -- it has a built-in SD card reader and can also be used with devices that can support the USB On-The-Go (OTG) specification.
Dimensions: 4.33 x 1.26 x .79 inches (110 x 32 x 20mm)
Weight: 1.06 ounces (30 grams)
Cable length: 11.8 inches (30 cm)
The design of any USB hub leaves a lot to be desired -- they're generally just slabs with USB ports in them. Inateck did a good job of making this hub presentable, with a black matte plastic body and an aluminum insert on top. The three USB 3.0 ports are on top of the unit, while the sole SD card reader is located on the end of the device.
While most iPhone and iPad users will never need the USB OTG capability (none of the Apple devices support that capability), they may need to transfer data from devices that do have OTG. Inateck handles the micro-USB to USB connection with a simple adapter that is permanently attached to the hub's cable with a small lanyard.
There's not much to say about how the hub works other than it does. I used the device with my MacBook Pro, popped a USB flash drive into each one of the ports and stuck an SD card into the reader, and was happy to see that all of them were accessible. I was not able to test the speed of the hub, although USB 3.0 has a theoretical maximum throughput of 5 Gbps and this device should be able to achieve that throughput to get the USB 3.0 certification.
One note -- since the hub is not powered (that is, it doesn't use an external power supply to supply extra power to the ports), you may find that some bus-powered USB hard drives will not work. For those situations, either a powered hub or a direct connection into another USB port on your MacBook should be able to power the drive.
Inateck is turning out to be a fairly impressive supplier of quality low-cost accessories for Mac and iOS devices. The Portable USB 3.0 Hub with SD card reader is lightweight, good-looking, and at the Amazon price of $19.99, a true bargain. The only negative with this hub is that some bus-powered hard drives may be incompatible with the port.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars out of 4 stars possible
Just in time for back-to-school with your MacBook or going on a late summer vacation trip, we're giving away an Inateck Portable USB 3.0 Hub with SD card reader valued at $39.99. Here are the rules for the giveaway:
Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before September 6, 2014 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
You may enter only once.
One winner will be selected in a random drawing and will receive an Inateck Portable USB 3.0 Hub with SD card reader valued at $39.99.