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What is a good USB hub to use with the MacBook Air while traveling?
Please note that this Q&A covers compact USB hubs equipped with USB 2.0 ports. When well-designed, compact USB hubs with USB 3.0 ports are more common, a new Q&A will be added. Found a USB hub with USB 3.0 ports that you particularly like? Please share.
As many MacBook Air users have certainly noticed -- based on e-mail received -- there are times when the single built-in USB 2.0 port on models released prior to the "Late 2010" line is inadequate. Even for the "Late 2010" and "Mid-2011" models (which have two USB 2.0 ports) -- there still are times when additional ports are desirable. The "Mid-2012" MacBook Air models have two faster USB 3.0 ports.
For MacBook Air notebooks released prior to the "Late 2010" models, there always is the option of serious hacking, but the easiest way to add more USB 2.0 ports to any MacBook Air is to use a USB hub.
"Good" is a subjective term, and just about any USB hub would work. However, it seems logical that if views size and weight as enough of a priority to buy a MacBook Air, one also would want a USB hub that is as small and lightweight as possible. It also is worth noting that the MacBook Air optical drive still must be plugged directly into the MacBook Air and is not to be used with USB hubs.
Nevertheless, for all the other USB devices you might like to plug into a MacBook Air -- an iPod, a mouse, printers, scanners, cameras, and so on -- there are a variety of small USB 2.0 hubs designed for travel available, but four in particular include the Belkin Swivel Hub, Dr. Bott T3Hub, Griffin SmartShare USB, and IOGear MicroHub.
Photo Credit (clockwise from top left): Belkin, Dr. Bott, IOGear, Griffin.
Please note that the above images are not precisely to scale, but the USB connectors can be used for an idea of relative size.
The convenient Belkin Swivel Hub design provides four USB 2.0 ports and rotates 180-degrees -- up, down, left, and right -- to make accessing ports easier in tight spaces.
The Dr. Bott T3Hub provides three USB 2.0 ports and plugs in like a simple USB thumbdrive.
The Griffin SmartShare USB, now discontinued, provides two USB 2.0 ports in a design reminiscent of an Apple adapter.
Finally, the IOGear MicroHub provides four USB 2.0 ports with a USB cable that "tucks away" under the device to protect the connector from damage in transit.
All four of these USB 2.0 hubs can be used with other Macs as well, not just the MacBook Air, and it is hoped, add as little weight as possible to your already overburdened carry-on bag.