If you are a fan of designer gadgets then the LaCie USB and FireWire hub "Huby" designed by Frenchman Ora-Ito is one for the collection.
Distinctly different from the run of the mill connectivity hubs, the Ora-Ito design is a round globe with glossy white polycarbonate finish. The small flat patch on the bottom prevents the device from rolling around – if you balance your cables balanced correctly. The cables protrude from the neck of the top covering, flexible enough to be configured into a vase flower look, or squid or Medusa depending on your mood. To encourage the "vase" look, LaCie has even provided a set of paper flowers to attach to the stems.
There is a row of LEDs hidden in the base of the unit. With the mains power plugged in a white LED lights up to indicate power. This was a relief to the reviewer as LaCie accidentally shipped a UK power plug, but luckily in my grab bag of gadget cables I found something that fit the bill. Unfortunately my grab grey cable ruined the aesthetics. Coloured LEDS light up as each port becomes active. With a little trial and error, it would be easy to match the colour code cables.
Behind the stylish facade, a hub is a hub. I elected not to take the Huby for a speed test since it is subject to factors such as speed of each device in the chain.
* USB Interface: 4 x downstream USB 2.0 (type A) & 1 upstream USB 2.0 (type B) ports;
* FireWire Interface: 2 x downstream & 1 x upstream FireWire 400 (6-pin IEEE 1394a) ports;
* Interface Transfer Rate: USB 2.0: up to 480Mbits/s, FireWire 400: up to 400Mbits/s;
* Size: 110 x 130 mm /4.33" x 5.2" (without cables);
* Weight: 900 g / 2 lb; and
* System Requirements: Mac OS 9; Mac OS X or higher; Windows 98SE, Me, 2000, XP, Windows Vista; Linux; available USB 2.0 connector; available FireWire 400 connector.
The device is shipped with the following items in the package:
* LaCie Hub;
* USB fan;
* USB light;
* 2 x USB 2.0 cables (type B male-type A male);
* 1 x USB 2.0 cable (type A male-type mini B male);
* 2 x USB 2.0 cables (type A male-type A female);
* 2 x FireWire 6-to-6 pin (male–male);
* 1 x FireWire 4-to-6 pin (male–male);
* USB extension cable; FireWire extension cable;
* external power supply;
* Quick Install Guide (missing from reviewer’s package).
This is a must have for those who love to be different. You could let rip with your artistic license to bend the cables into funky designs. The USB fan and light are a nice touch, although having an “on-off” button on the stem would make the LaCie hub more user friendly. I had to resort to powering off the hub, or pulling it apart to disconnect the cable to turn them off.
The Ora-Ito designed hub is available in both USB and FireWire for USD$89, or the newly released USB only edition for USD$79. The USB only edition will not be available in Australia unfortunately.
Many thanks to LaCie for providing the original USB and FireWire edition for this review.