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January 16, 2008

Hubba Hubba, USB Hubs that Swivel

180pxusb_connector I a big on passing down old laptops to kids (or maybe that is just an excuse so that I can keep updating my notebooks). But there is one problem I am having with my Dell laptop that will soon be passed down to my son: It only has two USB ports - one on top of the other. A USB port is a small port in the back of computer that connects to peripherals like printers. The port pictured to the left (from Wikipedia) only has one USB port, but the symbol will always be the same. So, why should only having one or two USB ports matter? Let me tell you why.

  1. For ergonomic reasons, I want my son typing from a keyboard and using a real monitor instead of just using the laptop screen. Because keyboards and monitors are now reasonably priced - it still pays off to buy that equipment instead of buying a new laptop for my son. And my current computer (Dell Inspiron 600m) is powerful enough to do the type of things my son is interested in. But my Dell laptop does not have a port for keyboards..
  2. I will be buying software for my son to write music, which comes with a microphone that is connected by none other then a USB port.
  3. Without a wireless printer router, the only way to print from a laptop is to connect a cable to a printer by, you guessed it, a USB port.
  4. Gaming has equipment that plugs into, yes - the USB port.

Most computers only have one USB port, and from my experience - the pins from the USB ports are fragile so the action of plugging in and then unplugging along with the potential of kid related forceful actions can lead to port damage. What can be done?


USB HUBS: I saw USB hubs mentioned in many holiday gift guides - but it took passing on my laptop to my son for me to go out and get one for myself. I choose the Belkin Swivel hub because it is small and can rotate for flexiblity. That USB hub has four ports, enough for all the equipment a kid would need and more....And if any of the ports from the USB hub are damaged, there are three others. And if all three are damaged (what - with kids why would that happen?) - just buy a new hub instead of a NEW COMPUTER!

Usb_adapter_2 USB ADAPTER: For those that just want to hook their PS/2 mouse and/or keyboard and the laptop does not have the right ports, USB adapters can do the trick. I choose the Dynex USB adapter to plug in a keyboard to my Dell computer (using my new hub).Logitech_media_keyboard_2

Yeah, I am not typing this sentence from a separate keyboard that is connected using the Dynex USB adapter - through my USB port on my laptop.  The keyboard I have is a Logitech Media Keyboard, and can be purchased inexpensively for under $20.00.

If adapters are too much of a fuss, try the new wireless keyboards and mouses. Microsoft makes wireless, bluetooth wireless and an ergonomic line.


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This post is sooo timley for me. I dusted off my old Dell, older than the one you are handing down to your son. Actually, it might just be older than your son. About five minutes before reading your post I realized it has only one USB port. One! The Belkin swivel hub sounds pretty handy.

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