Maximum PC Staff Jun 24, 2008

Belkin Cable-Free USB Hub

At A Glance

It's a novel idea...

The significant decrease of cables and wires around your desk area will make you seem like a neater person.

But what's the point?

It's a wireless hub. Right. But in order for it to do its job it has to stay extremely close to your PC.

When we heard about Belkin’s Cable-Free USB Hub, our first thought was, “Yes! Now we can move our iPod A/V dock next to our TV in the living room and still sync the player with iTunes on our PC in the den.” Ha! This device’s range is so poor it barely reaches across the room.

To be fair, Belkin doesn’t make tremendous claims for the device: The box states that the USB hub has “30 feet of wireless range” and that you can “transfer files at speeds up to 480Mb/sec.” That obviously won’t fulfill our multiroom mission, but the device doesn’t deliver on its stated specs, either. We were lucky to get 10 feet of range, even when—as the manual recommends—we maintained a clear line of sight between the dongle and the hub.

Potential buyers shouldn’t get too excited about getting rid of cables, either. You’ll need an electrical outlet to plug in the four-port hub and a free USB port on your PC to plug in the cable for Belkin’s dongle stand. Plugging the dongle directly into the back of your PC will likely prevent it from pairing with the hub no matter where you put it. And since the dongle half of the equation isn’t a Certified Wireless USB device, it will never be compatible with future devices that do comply with that standard. Belkin considers the combo a closed point-to-point network.

To test file-transfer speeds, we copied 412MB of random files from our desktop PC’s hard drive to a freshly formatted 6GB USB hard drive. We achieved a data-transfer rate of 24.9Mb/sec with the drive plugged directly into our PC. When we repeated the test with Belkin’s hub (with the dongle just a few inches away) the data-transfer rate dropped to 9.4Mb/sec. We then moved the hub about six feet from the dongle and repeated the test; this time, the data-transfer speed dropped to a mere 5.3Mb/sec.

Considering you can buy a wired four-port USB hub for around 30
bucks, you’d have to be nuts to spend $200 for this wireless model.


Belkin Cable-Free USB Hub

Around the web