Targus, a company more popularly associated with its extensive line of laptop cases, also markets computer accessories. One of their newer introductions is the Targus USB 2.0 4-Port Bend-A-Hub, a modestly-priced, useful add-on and an excellent gift suggestion or stocking stuffer for computer users on your Christmas list.
This hub allows you to connect up to four USB devices through a single USB port on your computer.
“So what?,” you’re probably saying, “there are dozens of 4-port USB hubs that do that.”
However, what makes the Bend-a-Hub distinctive is its literal flexibility plus its two specialty connectors; one of which can adjust to a 90-degree angle for better accessibility — able to be oriented either horizontally or vertically, making it ideal for connecting a flash thumb drive or iPod. Moreover, another of its four USB ports folds out to reveal a mini USB connector of the sort used by many digital cameras, mobile phones, and PDAs. The Bend-a-Hub’s flexible form factor makes it easy to accommodate a variety of larger USB devices.
It may also be possible to charge devices through the mini USB port if the connecting device supports charging through a mini USB connector. The unit works with both USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 ports and supports both Mac OS X and Windows (2000, XP, Vista).
The Bend-a-Hub’s flexibility makes it convenient to roll it up and tuck it in your pocket, laptop case, or backpack for road warrioring, and it weighs just an easy-to-carry 1.8 ounces.
Note, however, that there is no provision for self-powering using an AC power adapter, so the device is dependent upon whatever amount of power your computer is able to supply through a USB port. The amount of power output by many computer USB ports may get spread a bit thin with multiple devices attached, especially on certain Mac laptops, including recent Intel models.
The Bend-a-Hub is nicely finished, looks well-constructed, and the cables that connect the ports and plug to the central distribution module are generously sized with husky anti-fatigue collars where the cables enter the port and plug modules.
While it may look a little odd, the Targus Bend-a-Hub offers substantial versatility advantages over conventional USB hubs, especially for road warrioring, with the caveat above-noted regarding bus-powering. The only thing I found not to like about this product was that the female USB port modules were a bit snug, requiring more effort to insert and remove than I would prefer, but that will probably improve with repeated use.
The USB 2.0 4-Port Bend-a-Hub with Mini USB Adapter is 9″ in length, weighs 1.8 oz, and sells for $19.99.