by Matthew Harris on July 5, 2006 in Peripherals

There are a lot of USB hubs on the market. Most share one feature and that is they’re generally square or rectangular. Today we take a look at a USB 2.0 hub that’s not just one of the herd. It’s shaped like its namesake.

USB hubs are great. They help to add ports to your PC when you’ve run out of room to just plug in that last piece of equipment. They help to add space between the ports for bigger than average devices but unfortunately most are squared. The ports while being a bit spread out are still closer together than you might need. Say, if you’re using a largish USB key or networking dongle you could end up eating anywhere from 1-3 more ports than that device uses due to it being placed a bit too close to the next port.

Vizo has introduced a new hub that’s not square, it’s shaped like a flying saucer and named after one too, the Vizo UFO.

The UFO is round like a top, it features a larger half shell that the actual USB hub pivots inside. This allows the USB hub to be closed up when not in use to prevent dust buildup.

The round shape also means that due to the arc of the edge the ports sit in such an arrangement that the devices coming off them are spaced away from each other and the further they protrude from the edge, the further apart they become.

Each port (and the input) features an LED to show when the port is in use or the hub is under power. The hub doesn’t come with an external power brick but it does feature an input for +5VDC of 1.5A for devices requiring more than 125mA. This will allow you to hook up such things as bus powered HDD enclosures, scanners or what have you. The hub otherwise takes the 500mA that the port it’s feeding supplies and splits it up four ways. As long as your devices draw low power you should be fine without a power brick. The hub also includes a 6′ USB cable which is marginally long enough but could stand to be a bit longer for rear ports on a floor mounted PC application.

Now, as you can see I’ve got a USB 802.11G dongle. It’s powered entirely by the hub plus I’ve got a USB multi-card reader and mouse base and mouse dongle running off the hub. I’ve never had so much as a hiccup with anything and that’s with the hub running passively. Not only that but as you can see the 802.11G dongle takes up a considerable bit of room. When hooked up the the rear USP ports I’d lose the port next to it. With the UFO I have no such problems. Bonus. Another nice plus about the USB is that the plastic ringing the ports glow from the LED for each port power indicator making for a rather nice look at night.

The long and short of it is that the Vizo UFO is an interesting looking hub that offers great functionality along with visual appeal. It comes without external power which is on par with most hubs out there but it does allow you to hook an external power brick up to it just in case you need more than the power supplied by your standard USB port. The ability to spin the ports around inside the shell for storage makes for another nice feature along the LEDs which give you at-a-glance visual cues that your peripherals are hooked up and working.

When it’s all said and done I’m awarding the Vizo UFO an 8/10. It offers great usability along with good looks but could stand more than the included 4 ports or stackability for expansion. It also needs a bit longer cable to help get the hub further away from the PC on floor standing rigs as 6′ is just a bit short for some applications. I’d like to thank Vizo for this fine product and think you’d do well to check them out on the web.

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