Belkin introduces Network USB Hub
Monday, April 09, 2007 - Iddo Genuth
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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).