Provides: USB hub and card reader
Minimum Requirements: USB port
Availability: April 2009
This April, Evouni will be releasing their combination Push-Push Card Reader + USB Hub. For a moment there, I was worried this preview would be a blank page, because whatever advantages it has in terms of design, it’s currently dreadful for connecting peripherals.
Ah, the hub just conked out again. Lost my mouse and my keyboard (both hooked up to the front, powered port of my white Macbook). I know the hub is getting power because the Evouni name lights up on top. After a quick unplug and replug, looks like I’ve got power to both peripherals again. We’ll see how long this lasts.
First, the design, which is great. The device is a small black block, about 3x3x1 when closed. The USB cord, which extends to about a foot, is retractable, and the plug sits flush under the block when not in use. Pressing down on the top of the hub causes it to pop up, revealing the two USB and card reader ports.
Supported cards are:
- SanDisk CompactFlash
- Micro MMC
- Mobile MMC
- SanDisk RS-MMC
- Memory Stick Pro Duo and Pro-HD Duo
- Standard Memory Stick
- SanDisk Memory Stick PRO
- MMC and MMC Plus
- Mini SD
In terms of how it look and is put together, the hub is great. It looks good, the long cord gives it a lot of flexibility in terms of where you can place it on a desk, and it supports a lot of cards. It loses points for only giving you one additional USB port (since the device itself uses one on the computer).
As a card reader, the hub is, well, functional. Getting cards to mount on the desktop, or to open iPhoto, was a dicey proposition, requiring plugging and unplugging, but this is a problem I face with a lot of unpowered hubs. Once the card was loaded, I was able to import the photos and erase the card without problem.
But it’s as a USB hub that the device fails. Even for devices that should work fine with an unpowered hub, connections are spotty. With a keyboard and optical mouse attached, it’s already died twice in this preview. Connecting two different Flash drives to the ports, they would show up, then disappear with the “You have disconnected a device” error message. Trying to copy anything but the smallest of files to the drives would cause the transfer to die after the first few seconds.
The problems continued with my iPod touch. The screen would switch to the battery, with the power bar flickering between “powering” and “using power.” The iPod would sometimes show up in iTunes, sometimes display an error message that it could see the iPod but couldn’t connect, and sometimes there was no error message at all—but if I tried to copy or play music with the iPod, it wouldn’t work. When I tried connecting my camera directly using the mini USB port built in to it (the way I normally get photos off of it), neither iPhoto nor the desktop saw it connected at all.
Finally, I hooked up two powered devices: a powered USB External Drive and an inkjet printer. For the drive, I tried to copy around a gig of data over to it. It started fine, but then like the unpowered flash drive stopped, the transfer crashed with an error message, and the mouse connected to the hub failed as well. For the printer, I was able to print one page with no problems, but when I disconnected the hub, reconnected it and tried to print five more, it didn’t see the printer.
I should add that when I tried these devices with another unpowered USB hub, there was no difficulty at all.
If you just want a hub for either USB or data cards, you can probably find smaller ones, and in the case of USB, you can definitely find one that gives you more ports and performs better. The Push-Push Card Reader + USB Hub looks great, but its spotty performance and unreliability don’t make up for that. To be fair, though, I acquired this unit at Macworld Expo back in January. It’s possible Evouni will have addressed these issues by the time the Push-Push Card Reader + USB Hub is released, and we’ll report back if they have.