Belkin introduces Network USB Hub

Belkin introduced a new USB Hub which can be connected to any network and allow the sharing of peripheral devices between different computers connected to the network. The new hub supports multiple users which can each device at a time as well ass isochronous transfers of data.

The new hub which should be available on the market starting June 2007 for about $130 has 5 USB ports (although could probably be split by another USB hub). The hub is promoted by Belkin as a solution for connecting peripherals such as multifunction printers, media readers, and scanners as well as keyboards, mice, and other USB devices for desktop use on a laptop. Although Belkin specify that the hub could be used to share hard drives, USB drives, and other mass-storage devices it also states one drawback of the device which might be somewhat limited in sharing high-speed/high-bandwidth USB devices such as HD-streaming webcams or other video-transfer applications between computers. 

In 2006 TFOT covered a different technology for sharing USB devices developed by SMSC. To allow sharing of various peripherals such as scanners, cameras, printers, and hard drives between computers, SMSC developed a new technology called the MultiSwitch Hub. This chip can be embedded in the host machine (desktop computer, laptop, or even a game console). A host machine attached to several USB peripheral devices can directly connect to another machine via a USB cable. The SMSC chip can be used as a switch to control which machine uses a specific USB device at a particular time. Unlike the Belkin hub which connects to an existing network, the SMSC chip allows for a direct connection between two computers and thus serves a different purpose (it is not always desirable to connect a computer to a network and not every computer is connected to one).  

More information and images on Belkin new network USB from the company’s website.