One thing I hate about my iMac is having to feel around behind it to plug in a USB cable or thumb drive. AUKEY has an inexpensive solution that matches Apple’s aluminum design, offering three USB 3.0 ports plus an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port. Not bad for 20 bucks.
There are plenty of USB hubs to choose from, but I’m not interested in a powered hub or a monster with 10 ports. My accessories are wireless for the most part, so really all I need is something that throws a few ports up front where they’re accessible for plugging in a thumb drive or maybe side-loading a Kindle.
The AUKEY Aluminum 3-port USB Ethernet Hub works very well for this task, offering a trio of high-speed USB ports in a compact but stable enclosure. It matches the aluminum finish Apple uses on its hardware, and the white trim and cable continue the Apple-friendly theme—although it is compatible with PCs as well. Functionally, the USB ports seem to deliver the promised high-speed data transfer. On occasion (maybe two or three times in the past month) a thumb drive will fail to mount, but reinserting it does the trick.
I have no use for the Ethernet port at home, but it could be useful for a MacBook Air when traveling or visiting an office—it’s certainly compact enough to slip into a computer case. And at $19.99 on Amazon, the entire hub costs $10 less than Apple’s Ethernet adapter for the MBA.
As an unpowered hub, it’s not meant to be used as a charging port (although it did charge my e-readers when connected and does offer built-in surge protection), or for devices that require significant power from USB, so keeping a port free on your PC itself might be a good idea in case you need to charge an iPad or connect a USB-powered external hard drive.
My only complaint (and this would probably be a good thing rather than an issue if you use the hub for travel), is that the cord is short. At six inches, it’s just barely long enough for the hub to peek out from under the iMac. But again, at $20 for a nice looking, solidly built and functional USB hub, that’s probably nitpicking.
Disclosure: AUKEY provided a USB hub for review purposes.