Windows 8 Consumer Preview Support

We’re as excited about the Windows 8 Consumer Preview release as we expect many of our customers are. And we’re here to help if you install Windows 8 Consumer Preview on computers where you’re using or plan to use any Plugable devices.

We’ve already begun installing Microsoft’s latest operating system on PCs in our lab for the fun of hands-on exploration and–more importantly–for testing the compatibility of Plugable products on this platform.

Here’s what we know already.

Graphics Adapters
All Plugable graphics adapters rely on DisplayLink drivers that are explicitly called out during Windows 8 Consumer Preview setup as incompatible with the new operating system. DisplayLink has made Beta drivers available for Windows 8 on its public forum.

1) You will need to uninstall your current DisplayLink drivers when prompted to do so by Windows 8 Consumer Preview setup.

2) Once Windows 8 Consumer Preview is installed, you can download and install the DisplayLink drivers from http://plugable.com/drivers/displaylink. Please read the release notes to be aware of any that may affect you.

We have used DisplayLink drivers successfully on a computer running Windows 8 Consumer Preview with a Plugable UGA-2k-A graphics adapter. With an extended desktop, the Windows 8 “Metro” interface showed on the primary desktop, and the extended desktop functioned like a Windows 7 extended desktop.

The ability to control whether in duplicate or extend mode was located on an option called “Devices” that can be invoked from the lower right corner in the “Metro” UI.

Network Adapters
Windows 8 Consumer Preview should find the compatible ASIX or Realtek drivers for all Plugable network adapters via Windows Update. The computer will need a network connection separate from the one made available by the Plugable adapter.

USB 3.0 Devices
Windows 8 has native support for USB 3.0 and should properly manage the host controllers in any Plugable USB 3.0 cards and hubs. No third party drivers should be required.

Windows Easy Transfer Cable
The Plugable Windows Easy Transfer cable works in Windows 8. We’ll devote a future post to the topic of what the user interface looks like in Windows 8.

We’ll also cover using the optional Bravura software (license comes with the Plugable cable) in that future post.

If You Need Support
We hope all Plugable products function to your satisfaction on Windows 8 Consumer Preview. But if you experience problems or previously unseen quirks, we encourage you to post your questions at http://support.plugable.com or write to us at support@plugable.com. We’re here to help and eager to hear about your experiences with Windows 8.

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When You Need a New WiFi Adapter

You love your laptop, but its WiFi network adapter is on the fritz. You could try to get it repaired or plunk down at least a few hundred bucks for a new computer. There’s also an easy, inexpensive option that will get you back on the network in no time: Use a USB-based WiFi adapter.

The USB-NANO-11N WiFi adapter plugged into a USB slot measures sticks out just a quarter of an inchPlugable’s new USB-NANO-11N WiFi adapter offers 802.11n wireless connectivity in an incredibly small package.

At just 0.25 inches long by 0.5 inches wide when plugged into a USB port, the USB-NANO-11N is barely noticeable. With such a low profile, you don’t have to worry about the adapter snapping off from an accidental nudge. In fact, you won’t even need to unplug it before you stuff your laptop PC your backpack or totebag.

Size Matters
The drawback of such a small form factor is that the USB-NANO-11N has a small antenna, which limits the performance and range of the adapter. While it theoretically could connect to an 802.11n wireless network at a top speed of 150 Mbps, real-world usage shows that speeds up to 24 Mbps are more likely.

Distance from the WiFi hotspot also will cause the connection quality to vary. For optimal performance, we recommend the USB-NANO-11N for customers who plan to use the adapter in the same room as the hotspot.

Getting Connected
If the USB-NANO-11N is right for you, there’s an important step you must take before plugging it in to your computer: Download and install the latest drivers first.

There is a drivers CD included with the adapter, but it’s always best to use the latest drivers available online. And if you’re going to use this on a Windows PC, you definitely want to install the updated drivers rather than rely on Windows to pick the right ones for you.

Given that you’re probably going to use the adapter on a computer that doesn’t currently have an Internet connection, you’ll need to find a computer where you can get to the following URL: http://plugable.com/products/usb-nano-11n/driver. This will take you to the drivers page for the Realtek 8818CUS chipset that’s at the heart of the USB-NANO-11N.

Screen shot of drivers download page for USB-NANO-11N

Screen shot of the Windows, Mac, and Linux drivers download page for the USB-NANO-11N

Download the drivers you need–they’re available for Windows XP, Vista, and 7; Mac OS X 10.4 and up; plus versions of Linux (Note: the Android drivers are for developers only)–to some kind of portable media (USB drive, CD) that you can use on the computer where you need to install them.

Once the drivers are in place (a restart may be needed), plug in the USB-NANO-11N, and you should be good to go. The adapter works in USB 2.0 and 1.1 ports, though you’ll get faster throughput in a USB 2.0 port. When you have an active connection, an LED at the top of the unit will flash intermittently.

The driver install also will add Realtek’s USB wireless LAN utility to you computer, which allows you to manage the adapter’s settings, set up usage profiles, and see info about the state of your network connection. It’s all the same functionality that’s available through your computer’s operating system but in one handy location for the USB-NANO-11N.

As noted, the adapter supports the 802.11n draft WiFi specification for data transmission in the 2.4Ghz band, but it is compatible with the older 802.11b and g specifications. It also supports the common WiFi security protocols (64/128 bit WEP, WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK and Wi-Fi Protected Setup).

Additional Uses
In future posts we’ll look at some other uses of the USB-NANO-11N, such as

  • adding a second network adapter to a PC to use it for Internet connection sharing and
  • getting all your wireless devices on the same 802.11 spec for improved WiFi speed.

If you have pre-sales or support questions about the USB-NANO-11N, don’t hesitate to write to us at support@plugable.com. We’re here to help.

 

[amtap amazon:asin=B006JSUA0C]

Mac OS X 10.7.3 Breaks Display Rotation

We recommend not upgrading your Mac to the OS X 10.7.3 release if you are using a Plugable graphics display adapter.

This latest upgrade to the Mac OS was made publicly available at the beginning of this month. Unfortunately it breaks display rotation functionality in all third-party display drivers.

DisplayLink, the maker of the graphics chipset in Plugable graphics display adapters, is in touch with Apple about potential fixes for the problem. When word of a solution arrives, we’ll post it on the Plugable blog.

Meanwhile, if you already have upgraded to 10.7.3 and now find that your rotated display connected throgh a third-party graphics display adapter seems to be broken, here are the steps posted in the DisplayLink Mac forum (http://displaylink.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1484) to restore functionality:.

1. Shut down the Mac.

2. Disconnect the Plugable graphics display adapter.

3. Boot in safe mode by pressing and holding the shift key after the startup tone (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1455).

4. Open the Display preferences in System preferences.

5. Reboot.

6. Connect your Plugable graphics display adapter. The display should work again, and its rotation should be back to standard.

If you have upgraded to 10.7.3 but do not use display rotation, you might not see any problems. However, we still do not recommend updating to 10.7.3 until DisplayLink is certain that all display-management functionality is stable in this version of Mac OS X.

DisplayLink’s latest Mac driver works properly with OS X 10.7.2 and earlier OS X releases.

You can find the current DisplayLink driver for OS X at http://displaylink.com/support/mac_downloads.php.

If you’re having trouble with your Plugable graphics display adapter on a Mac, you can look to our support forums at http://support.plugable.com or write to us at support@plugable.com. We’re here to help.

Plugable UGA-2K-A USB 2.0 to VGA/DVI/HDMI Adapter for Windows, Multiple Monitors up to 2048x1152 / 1... Product Details
$49.95

USB Battery Charging and the Amazon Kindle Fire

This is the new USB Battery Charging Standard in action with the Kindle Fire and the $19.95 Plugable 4 Port HUB with 2.5A Adapter and BC 1.1 support.

As both support the new standard, you can fast charge — even without a computer attached.

A few notes:

* The Kindle Fire has a standard USB micro-B connector, but the Fire doesn’t come with a USB cable in the box. You’ll need to buy that separately (in the video, we show using a cable borrowed from a Kindle Touch).

* The Kindle Fire will actually charge at up to 850mA. The video shows it pulling 650mA, because the Kindle is almost fully charged.

* The Apple iPad/iPod/iPhone are *not* BC 1.1 compliant, so this support is of no use for charging those devices at a faster rate. And the iPad won’t charge while the screen is on when connected to any standard USB 2.0 hub.

If you’re curious about our measurement rig, it’s a nice simple setup – just a multimeter and some passive components. Give a comment if it would be helpful for us to post the components we used.

We welcome any comments. Thanks!

Plugable USB 2.0 4-Port High Speed Hub with 12.5W Power Adapter and BC 1.2 Charging Support for Andr... Product Details
$17.95

Plugable’s New USB 2.0 Switch for Sharing a Device or Hub Between Two Computers

Here’s a scenario our customers frequently describe: “I just got a new USB-based printer and want to share it between two computers. But the printer isn’t networkable. What should I do?”

The inexpensive solution: Plug the printer’s USB cable into the computer where you have something to print. Repeat as needed.

Picture of the USB2-SWITCH2 that provides one-touch switched access between two computers to a USB device or hubThe easier solution: Get the Plugable USB2-SWITCH2 for fast, one-touch switching of the printer–well, really any USB 1.1/2.0 device or hub–between two computers. One computer has access to the device at a time.

For anyone who’s been involved with information technology for a while, the practice of using a switch to share access between multiple computers and a device is not new. But the power of USB dramatically enhances the potential of what can be shared.

In the days before USB, you had to buy a specialized switch that was compatible with the connection cable used by the device to which you wanted to share access. For example, a keyboard-video-mouse switch–abbreviated as a KVM switch–provided switched access to just those three devices.

Visual representation of two computers connecting to a single device through a switch

A USB switch enables two computers to access a single USB device, like a printer.

Now with a USB-based switch, you can set up switched access between two computers to any USB 1.1/2.0 device–no specialized switch boxes necessary for each device. And if you connect the switch to a USB hub, you’ll have switched access to all the devices connected to the hub. This can offer a lot of flexibility.

Visual representation of switched access to multiple USB devices attached to a hub

Attach a USB hub to a USB switch to enable two computers to access all the devices connected to the hub.

Here’s an example from our lab of the way you can maximize the USB2-SWITCH2’s potential:

  • Connect a PC running Windows 7 and a Mac Mini running OS/X.
  • Attach a Plugable USB2-HUB-AG7 powered seven-port hub to the switch.
  • Plug the following devices into the hub:
    • A Plugable USB-VGA-165 display adapter (set to mirror the main display)
    • A Plugable USB2-E100 10/100 Ethernet adapter
    • A USB-based keyboard and mouse

With a single button press, you can switch access to a mouse, a keyboard, a display, and a network connection between two computers running different operating systems. And you’ll still have three ports in the hub to spare for a printer, scanner, external hard drive, webcam, or any of the multitude of USB-based devices that exist. Watch the video below to see our configuration in action.

The switch requires no drivers. Just connect it to any two computers with USB 1.1/2.0 ports via the included five-foot USB A/B cables, attach a device or hub, and that’s it. Be aware that the attached device might require drivers to use it with your computer’s operating system. The first time you switch access to the device, you may either be asked to install drivers if you haven’t already or receive an error if your computer’s operating system can’t recognize the device. If you switch to a hub connected to multiple devices, you may have to go through driver installs for all those devices.

Picture of USB2-SWITCH2, two included five-foot USB A/B cables, and product packaging

The USB2-SWITCH2 comes with two five-foot USB A/B cables.

The USB2-SWITCH2 is available at Amazon.com. We’d love to hear your stories about how you use this incredibly simple but highly effective device in your home or office. If you have any questions about its functionality or have trouble getting it set up, write us at support@plugable.com. We’re here to help.

 

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