Traveling light doesn’t mean that you don’t have a need to connect to peripherals and high-speed Ethernet, so lightweight USB hubs and Ethernet adapters are worth their weight in gold when you’re a road warrior. Today we’re looking at Inateck’s 3 Port USB 3.0 Hub with Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (HBU3VL3-4) (US$39.99 MSRP, $22.99 on Amazon), a top-rated hub on Amazon and a handy piece of equipment to have in your laptop bag.
- Dimensions: 4.33 x 1.26 x 0.79 inches (110 x 32 x 20mm)
- Weight: 2.09 oz (59 grams)
- Cable Length: 11.81 inches (300mm)
- Interface: USB 3.0 (three) and RJ45 (one, Gigabit Ethernet)
Since Apple’s new USB-C MacBook won’t be out for another three weeks, that means that most of us have two methods of connecting peripherals to our MacBooks — USB and Thunderbolt. The Inateck 3 Port Hub isn’t a powered USB hub, so you don’t want to add devices with more of a combined current of 900mA. That means that you can’t use it as a standalone charger and it’s not going to work to charge your iPad.
However, if you’re looking for a way to connect with a couple of flash drives and a low-current portable USB drive, this hub is perfect.
The 3 Port Hub is made of black ABS lastic with a brushed alumimum facing around the three ports. All of the ports are USB 3.0 SuperSpeed, providing a theoretical maximum transfer speed of up to 5 Gbps.
Since I’m lacking a laptop at the moment, I tested the Inateck 3 Port Hub with my daily work machine, a late 2012 27-inch iMac. I was able to connect my USB 3.0 SuperSpeed backup drive, a USB SD card reader, and a 64GB flash drive with no issues.
I was unable to test the Ethernet adapter due to my current setup, but noticed several Amazon reviews where MacBook Air users had issues with the Ethernet capability. It appears that a driver installation is required, which isn’t exactly the plug-and-play experience that Apple users are accustomed to. The driver can be found on this page. The driver download includes a very thorough installation guide, so it shouldn’t be an issue for experienced Mac users. A reboot is required after installation of the driver.
I wouldn’t recommend this as an Ethernet adapter for novices; either of the $29 Apple Ethernet Adapters (USB or Thunderbolt) are plug-and-play. If your device has Thunderbolt ports, definitely use the Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter as the USB model only works at 10/100BASE-T speeds.
The Inateck 3-Port USB 3.0 Hub with Gigabit Ethernet Adapter is inexpensive and provides a good measure of expandability. However, the need to install drivers for the Ethernet adapter is a throwback, particularly when Ethernet adapters from Moshi, Apple, and Kanex provide plug-and-play operation.