All posts by Aaron Knopf

UPDATED: Plugable Products on Mac OS X 10.8 (aka Mountain Lion)

Listed below are our latest updates about how to make your Plugable products work on Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion with all the caveats shared by customers. If you read this post before and notice changes, it’s because we’ve revised our advice based on differences between our test results and what many customers were reporting. For now, in all cases we are recommending the solutions that have worked for everyone.

Any Plugable products not listed below have not yet been tested or have no Mac support (USB 3.0 graphics adapters, USB 3.0 docking station, Windows Easy Transfer cable).

Product
Type
Products
Tested
Drivers
Needed
Download Site/
Setup Notes
10/100 Ethernet Adapter USB2-E100 N Uninstall previously installed third-party ASIX AX88772 driver before upgrading 10.7 or 10.8, to use Apple’s built-in drivers.
Gigabit Ethernet Adapter USB2-E1000 Y Leave the Gigabit adapter unplugged. Go to network settings and delete any existing USB Gigabit Ethernet interfaces by highlighting and clicking the minus button.

Download and install drivers from:
plugable.com/products/usb2-e1000/drivers

After installation and reboot, plug in the adapter.

Go to network settings. If a new USB Gigabit interface hasn’t been created, then click the plus button, and add a new interface for the USB Gigabit Ethernet adapter.

Click the gear button, choose to set the service order, and drag the Gigabit Ethernet interface to the top of the list to make it your primary network connection. Approve the change to return to the main network settings screen.

Click Apply in network settings.

If the status in network settings goes green with a good IP address (not 169.x.x.x), the adapter is working properly.
USB 2.0 Graphics Adapters UGA-2K-A,UGA-165,
USB-VGA-165,
UGA-125
Y Uninstall any old DisplayLink drivers before upgrading from 10.7.x.After upgrade, download and install the production version of DisplayLink’s v1.8 driver (or later) for OS X at DisplayLink’s Mac driver page.

Note that the performance of USB graphics on Mac is not yet at the same level as Windows. And some customers have reported crashes and hangs after installing DisplayLink drivers on Mountain Lion. See DisplayLink’s Mac user forum for the latest details. There is a specific thread on possible causes of Kernel panics.

We are filing bugs with DisplayLink based on Plugable customer feedback. If your system is not performing properly once you have installed the latest DisplayLink drivers, please contact us at support@plugable.com for assistance.
USB 2.0 Universal Docking Stations UD-160-A, DC-125 See Notes Follow the instructions above for the 10/100 Ethernet adapter and the USB 2.0 graphics adapters.
Hard Drive Dock USB3-SATA-U3 N
Serial Adapter PL2303-DB9 Y http://plugable.com/drivers/prolific/ (Mac security settings must allow installation of executable files from anywhere)
Hubs, Switches, Extension Cables N 10.8 has a regression where USB Hard Drives attached to a Mac through a USB hub may report “drive wasn’t ejected properly” on return from sleep. We have customer reports of this issue in particular with USB 3.0 hubs like USB3-HUB4

Please feel free to comment here or e-mail us at support@plugable.com with your findings, questions, or problems. We’re here to help.

[usb2-e1000

Plugable’s New USB 3.0 to VGA Adapter

We’re pleased to announce the latest expansion of our USB 3.0 product line with the USB3-VGA: Plugable’s USB 3.0 to VGA graphics adapter for Windows PCs.

Most monitors, TVs, and projectors still have the familiar 15-pin VGA input port for attaching a computer. Don’t let VGA’s age fool you. Images on your display will look exactly the same when transmitted through a VGA connection as they would through all the competing, latest-and-greatest video connection types (DVI, Dual-Link DVI, multiple versions of HDMI, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, etc.). Customers are used to VGA, and we’re happy to offer a USB 3.0 adapter that works with their existing display devices.

This new USB 3.0 to VGA graphics adapter offers the same ease of use as our highly regarded USB 2.0 to VGA adapter but supports a higher range of display resolutions (up to 2048×1152/1920×1200) and includes the ability to provide high-definition video to a 1080p-capable VGA display or projector.

These improvements are made possible by USB 3.0′s faster data transfer speeds of five gigabits per second versus USB 2.0′s 480 megabits per second and by the improved data compression capabilities in the DisplayLink DL-3100 chipset. The DL-3100 chipset uses the host computer’s central processor and graphics processor more efficiently than its USB 2.0 predecessor, making the USB3-VGA outshine USB 2.0 to VGA adapters even on computers without any USB 3.0 ports.

Adapter USB Version Video Output Max Resolution Supported OS*
USB3-HDMI-DVI USB 3.0/2.0 HDMI, DVI 2048×1152 Windows
USB3-VGA USB 3.0/2.0 VGA 2048×1152 Windows
UGA-2K-A USB 2.0 HDMI, DVI, VGA 2048×1152 Windows, Mac OS X
UGA-165 USB 2.0 HDMI, DVI, VGA 1920×1080 Windows, Mac OS X

*See product detail pages for specific version information.

The one drawback of the DL-3XXX chipset is that it’s only supported by DisplayLink on Windows right now–including the soon-to-release Windows 8. Sorry Mac and Linux customers, but there are no OS X or Linux drivers for our USB 3.0 graphics adapters. Please continue to use Plugable’s USB 2.0 graphics adapters for now.

Now that we have digital and analog adapters, think about your usage scenarios to make the best purchase decision.

  • If your monitor or projector only supports an HDMI or DVI connection, you’ll want to go with the USB3-DVI-HDMI.
  • If that monitor or projector only has a VGA input, the USB3-VGA is for you.
  • If you can hook up with any of these three display types, it may come down to price or the displays you intend to purchase in the future.

As with all Plugable graphics adapters, you can connect up to six to your Windows PC either directly (if you have enough open USB ports) or through a self-powered USB hub connected to your PC. Our new USB3-HUB4 four-port USB 3.0 hub with a four-amp power supply offers an easy, cost-effective way to connect four USB3-VGA graphics adapters through a single USB 3.0 port on your PC.

If you have questions about Plugable’s new USB 3.0 to VGA graphics adapter or any of our other USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 products, don’t hesitate to leave us a message below or to write to us at support@plugable.com. We’re here to help.

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Charging the Samsung Galaxy S III

The hottest new mobile phone on the market is the Samsung Galaxy S III, and we’re eager to let everyone know that you can recharge it with the Plugable four-port hub and fast charger.

In short, you can plug the four-port charger into an electrical outlet, attach a Samsung Galaxy S III’s to the charger via its USB cables, and the Galaxy S III phone will recharge at nearly the same rate as if it was plugged directly into an electrical socket.

This works because the Samsung Galaxy S III supports the USB battery charging specification (aka BC 1.1/1.2). Following the battery charging spec means that customers can get a predictable result for recharging when the Galaxy S III is plugged it into a USB hub that also supports the charging spec. The Plugable four-port hub and fast charger is such a hub. Plugable’s 10-port and seven-port hubs don’t support battery charging even though they do have their own power adapters.

Anyone who’s ever tried to recharge a phone or tablet computer just by plugging it into a standard USB 2.0 hub knows that results aren’t often positive. Yes, sometimes it seems to work, but it’s almost by accident.  In general we can’t guarantee the desired results when either the device or the hub don’t comply with BC 1.1/1.2.

With the Samsung Galaxy S III, we can say unequivocally from our own testing that it will recharge when plugged into Plugable four-port hub and fast charger. We hope the Galaxy S III is in the forefront of a wave of devices that support the battery charging spec. But for now, the Galaxy S III’s support of the spec is another plus for a phone that’s already winning rave reviews.

Plugable USB 2.0 4-Port High Speed Hub with 12.5W Power Adapter and BC 1.2 Charging Support for Andr... Product Details
$16.95

New USB 3.0 Hub Combines Power and Speed

“It’s a hub.”
–Brian Marshall

The quotation above comes from a review of one of Plugable’s self-powered hubs. It implies that there’s not much that can be said about a hub. But at Plugable somehow we end up having a lot of long discussions about hubs and their features (it is a fun place to work, really!). When customers ask us about our hubs, we want to make sure we suggest the right ones for their needs.

The newest entry to our Plugable hub family–the Plugable USB3-HUB4 four-port USB 3.0/2.0 compact hub–is perfect for customers who already have more USB 3.0 devices than they have USB 3.0 ports on their computers, which is a common issue for owners of many 2011-12 laptops that provided only one USB 3.0 port.

With its strapping four-amp AC adapter, the four-port hub can supply power simultaneously to four attached USB 3.0 devices that each pull the USB 3.0 maximum of 900 milliamps of current. For example, this hub would be an ideal choice for a customer using four Plugable USB3-HDMI-DVI USB 3.0 to HDMI graphics adapters to connect four external display to a laptop.

The hub’s cutting-edge VIA VL811 controller chip supports USB 3.0 SuperSpeed data transfer rates of up to 4.8 gigabits per second, a big jump up from USB 2.0′s top rate of 480 megabits per second. But the VL811 is fully compatible with USB 2.0/1.1 devices, meaning that customers with a mix of USB 3.0, 2.0, and 1.1 devices can plug all of them into this compact four-port hub.

What comes with the hub

The hub comes with a four-amp power supply with a three-foot cable for connecting it to the hub, another three-foot cable for plugging the power supply into an AC outlet, and a three-foot USB 3.0 data cable.

Like all hubs offered by Plugable, this one provides plug-and-play connectivity with any Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. Just attach the hub and use it, no additional drivers needed.

Despite its great features, the USB3-HUB4 USB 3.0/2.0 four-port compact hub isn’t right for every Plugable customer. For anyone with a computer without an internal USB 3.0 port, the USB3-HUB4 would become a pricey four-port USB 2.0 hub. Plugable’s 10-port or seven-port USB 2.0-only hubs would provide these customers with more ports at a lower overall cost.

And even with its hefty four-amp power supply, this hub is not a charging station. Don’t buy it to recharge an iPad or iPhone or any other tablet or smartphone. If the USB3-HUB4 provides charging functionality, it’s a matter of luck rather than design. In these lucky instances, it’s probably not doing anything that any other hub with a power cord wouldn’t do.

See, I told you we could go on a long time about hubs. If all this talk has you wondering whether the Plugable USB3-HUB4 four-port USB 3.0/2.0 compact hub is the hub of your dreams, send your questions to us at support@plugable.com or use the feedback form below to reach us. We’re real people, we love discussing our products, and we’re here to help.

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Plugable’s 7 Port USB Hub Gets Upgrades

We’re happy to announce the the Plugable USB2-HUB-AG7 seven-port hub with three-amp power supply is back in stock. One of Plugable’s goals is to continuously improve our products based on customer feedback. Manufacturing took a little extra time with this batch to implement some important changes.

Tighter Fit
The biggest change we made was to make sure the hub’s power cord stays snug in the hub.

That might not seem like much of a big deal, but the looseness of the of the power supply’s barrel connector was the No. 1 complaint we received from customers about older models of the seven-port hub.

We also tightened the fit of the mini-USB port where you insert the data cable that connects the hub to a computer.

Go Longer
The data cable now spans 56 inches, about a foot longer than before as a result of customer requests, providing increased flexibility and distance in positioning the hub away from the host computer.

When Less is More
Improvements aside, some customers ask why Plugable offers a self-powered seven-port hub when we already sell a self-powered 10-port hub. While the two hubs do the same thing–connect a bunch of USB devices to a computer–each offers different benefits.

The seven-port hub is better for devices that need a lot of power through the USB connection. The seven-port has a larger power supply than the 10-port hub: 3 amps versus 2.5 amps. You’ll find few other USB 2.0 hubs with this much total amperage.

Power Per Port
If you had multiple devices that all wanted to draw the USB 2.0 maximum amperage of 500 milliamps available when attached to a hub that is connected to a computer, you could attach about six of these devices to the seven-port hub (6  x 500mA = 3A) and only five to the 10-port hub (5 x 500mA = 2.5A). And in this scenario you would have gotten value out of six of ports on the seven-port hub but only half of the ports on the 10-port hub. Note that just because the hub provides this much power, doesn’t mean that devices will charge without a computer attached. That behavior is outside of the USB spec, and is determined by the particular device. Apple devices, in particular, require tricks to charge with any hub.

Per-Port LEDs
We think of the 7-port hub as our “power user” hub both because of the higher average power per port, and because of other features like the nice per-port LEDs on the 7-port hub that allow you to quickly see which ports have successfully configured on the host.

Works with Everything
The hub works with any USB 2.0 capable host: Windows, Mac, Linux, XBOX, Wii, Tivo, etc — anything with a USB port and support for hubs. The hub’s controller delivers the best performance and compatibility of any USB 2.0 hub controller out there.

Whatever your needs, we always aim to support you as best we can. If you have questions about either the improved Plugabale USB2-AG7 seven-port hub or any of our products, feel free to write us below or via e-mail to support@plugable.com. We’re here to help.

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Switcheroo! Cool Uses of a USB Switch

The best thing about interacting with customers–beyond the joy that comes from helping people solve problems–is learning the ways they’re using our products, especially when they come up with purposes beyond any we ever envisioned. Here are two examples of novel uses of the Plugable USB2-SWITCH2 USB 2.0 switch for one-button swapping of a USB device or hub.

Computer A Might Not Be A Computer
You might notice in the introduction that the USB2-SWITCH2′s title was shortened from its full name of “USB 2.0 switch for one-button swapping of a USB device or hub between two computers.” And that’s where the first story begins.

A customer wrote us with the following situation. He had a Cannon printer/scanner/copier that he had WiFi-enabled by connecting it to his Apple AirPort Extreme base station via a USB cable. Now he could print to the Cannon device from any computer on his WiFi network.

But if he wanted to scan with the Cannon, he needed to establish a direct USB connection between the Cannon and a computer. This meant unplugging the Cannon from the AirPort base station and connecting it to a computer–a cumbersome, inefficient process.

His solution:

  • Connect the Cannon printer/scanner/copier to the switch’s USB output port.
  • Connect the AirPort Extreme to USB input port A on the switch.
  • Connect a computer to USB input port B on the switch.
Diagram of an Apple AirPort Extreme and a PC sharing access to a printer/scanner via a Plugable USB2-SWITCH2.

Now when he needed to print, he could make sure that the switch gave the AirPort control over the USB connection to the Cannon. Any computer or tablet on the WiFi network capable of printing to the Cannon could send data there via the AirPort.

But when he needed to scan something, he could swap access to the computer plugged into the switch’s input port B to establish the necessary direct USB connection between that computer and the Cannon device. He didn’t even need to leave a computer permanently attached to port B. He could just leave the USB cable in port B and attach it to a computer as needed.

When we first released the switch, we wrote a blog post about how you could attach a hub to the switch’s output port and then provide access between two computers to multiple USB devices. We never considered that one of the devices on the input ports could be something like an AirPort that allowed multicomputer access to whatever device or hub was attached to the switch.

We salute the ingenuity of our engineering-focused customer who opened our eyes to this possibility and thank him for sharing his story.

Turning Off the USB Connection
Our second switch-master had a Bose speaker system that could be used with multiple types of playback devices.

His PC needed to connect to the Bose speakers via a USB cable.

A non-USB device could be connected to the speakers from its heaphone jack to a 3.5 millimeter input jack in the speakers via a male-to-male stereo cable.

The problem was that when the PC was plugged in to the speakers via USB, the customer had to unplug the stereo cable . The customer wanted to end this annoyance of continually fiddling with which cable was connected.  Plus, if you’ve ever had a cable that you use with a particular device, you  know how easy it is to lose that cable if you can’t just leave it attached where you use it.

It might seem odd that the USB2-SWITCH2 could have any benefit in this scenario. But here’s what our customer did.

  • Connect the Bose speakers into the switch’s output port.
  • Connect his computer into USB input port A on the switch.
  • Connect nothing into USB input port B on the switch.
Diagram of using the Plugable USB2-SWITCH2 to connect just one USB device to a speaker system

Now he could leave the USB and stereo cables connected plugged in simultaneously.

To play sound from his PC, all he had to do was use the computer on input port A. To playback sound over the stereo cable, he could swap the switch to input port B. With no device attached to input B, the Bose speakers acted as if there was no USB cable plugged in at all.  Therefore, the speakers played back the sound being transmitted through the stereo cable instead.

This customer transformed our switch for device sharing into an on-off switch for the Bose’s USB connection simply by recognizing that sometimes nothing is the best thing to plug into the switch’s port B.  Well done, sir.<

What’s Your Story?
The switch is one of the simplest devices Plugable manufactures, so to know that our customers are finding complicated new uses for it makes us wonder what’s being done with some of our more complex offerings. Feel free to share your usage stories below. We love to hear from you, and you might inspire the next great new idea for getting the most out of Plugable products.

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UGA-165 Graphics Adapter Now $49.95

We’re happy to announce that we’ve been able to lower the everyday price of the Plugable UGA-165 USB 2.0 graphics adapter by $5 to $49.95. This price drop is made possible thanks to our loyal customers. Because of your growing demand for our products, we were able to manufacture a larger lot of UGA-165s (http://plugable.com/products/uga-165) at a lower cost than in the past, so we’re passing our increased savings on to you.

If you’re considering a USB graphics adapter to add another monitor to your system, the UGA-165 is a powerful product that works on Windows and Mac OS X with VGA, DVI, and HDMI monitors at resolutions up to 1920 x 1080 or 1600 x 1200 (widescreen). Its DisplayLink DL-165 chipset is nearly identical to the DL-195 chipset in the UGA-2K-A (http://pugable.com/products/uga-2k-a) except that the UGA-2K-A  can support resolutions up to 2048×1152 or 1920×1200 (widescreen).

Unless you have a display on which the optimal resolution is in the UGA-2K-A’s higher range, save some money and go with the UGA-165. You won’t sacrifice any other functionality. Both adapters use the same DisplayLink driver (http://plugable.com/products/drivers/displaylink). You can use up to six UGA-165s simultaneously on a Windows PC or up to four on a Mac. And you get the same support from Plugable to ensure your success with either product.

If you have questions on the UGA-165, post them below, and we’ll answer them as quickly as we can. Thanks again for being a great Plugable customer.

Plugable UGA-165 USB 2.0 to VGA/DVI/HDMI Graphics Adapter for Windows, Multiple Monitors up to 1920x... Product Details
$39.95

Charging Your iPad or iPhone with a USB Hub

12/3/2012 Apple’s new devices with the 8/9 pin lightning connector is now BC 1.1 compatible! We now have a 4 port USB hub that charges these new devices with or without a PC. Older 30-pin connector devices are not compatible. See below for them.

“The only reason I bought this was that my computer’s USB doesn’t provide enough power to charge my iPad 2. Unfortunately, this hub doesn’t charge the iPad either, so it’s completely useless to me.”

“Bought this as a powered USB hub so that an iPhone and iPad could be connected to a MacBook Pro and charge both. Does not work.”

“So much for a ‘powered’ usb hub, it doesn’t power my iPad …, which defeats the purpose of me even getting it.”

It seems like it should be so easy. You have a hub that is plugged into an electrical socket. Your iPad is plugged into the hub. It should recharge. But it says, “Not Charging.” Why?

Quick iPad Charging Steps: Connect it to the self-powered hub, hold the Sleep/Wake button to begin shutdown, swipe the 'slide to power off'' on screen, and the iPad will charge once shut downIt all has to do with how electrical current is supposed to flow through USB ports and with confusion caused by proprietary behaviors that Apple has implemented in its product ecosystem that lead to different recharging results in seemingly identical scenarios.

If you want to avoid the answer to the “why” question and just know how to charge your Apple iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch when it’s connected to a self-powered hub, here are your two options.

Option 1: The iPad/iPhone/iPod is connected to a hub that is plugged into an electrical outlet and a computer simultaneously. The Apple device will recharge by pulling current at a rate of 500 milliamps when attached to this hub (the hub’s power supply must have enough amperage to provide this current).

  • The iPhone and iPod both will indicate they are charging in this state. Total recharge time will be about half as fast as when they are plugged directly into a Mac’s USB port or an electrical outlet.
  • The iPad will display “Not Charging” in this state if its screen is enabled. Put the screen to sleep with the Sleep/Wake button on the iPad’s exterior, and the device will start to charge. In our tests, an iPad charging at a 500-milliamp rate will add about 10% to its battery meter every 1.5 hours.

Option 2: The iPad/iPhone/iPod is connected to a hub that is plugged into an electrical outlet but not a computer. The Apple device’s power must be completely turned off for the device to recharge when attached to this hub. Here are step-by-step instructions.

  1. Plug the iPad, iPhone, or iPod into the hub. If the device was previously shut down, it will turn on upon sensing power from the hub.
  2. Perform Apple’s shutdown routine for the device. You can’t  just let the screen go blank. You need to hold down the physical Sleep/Wake button on the exterior of the iPad, iPhone, or iPod until you see the red arrow on screen that you can swipe to turn off the device.Screen capture of Apple's "power off" slider
  3. Swipe the red arrow to complete the shutdown process.
  4. Once turned off, the Apple devices will draw power through the hub at the 500-milliamp rate.

Please be aware that if you attach multiple Apple devices at one time to your hub in either scenario that you might start to exceed the amperage available in your hub’s power supply. We cannot verify charging will occur once this has occurred.

In our tests, when we overloaded the available power supply, we saw varying results in how the attached devices consumed power. However, we did observe that iPhones and iPods (not iPads) still would charge–albeit very slowly–when drawing power at the 100 milliamp rate.

If you want to know more about how USB power works and where Apple deviates from the USB 2.0 standards, read on.

USB Power Primer
The USB 2.0 spec permits devices to pull current at a default rate of 100 milliamps from a USB 2.0 port (we’ll call this the host)–enough to power a mouse but hardly enough to charge an iPad battery.

If a USB 2.0 device needs current at faster rate than 100 milliamps to function, it is allowed to negotiate with the host to increase its consumption rate to a maximum of 500 milliamps from the host’s port.

Screenshot of the warning in WIndows 7 when USB devices are trying to draw more power than is available through the portWhen a device tries to draw more current than is available to the host–often described as overcurrent–you can end up with a warning that there isn’t sufficient power to meet the device’s needs. This warning might appear on the host (e.g., a popup in the Windows taskbar, like the one shown to the right). But others, like the Mac, disable the port without any warning, often creating the erroneous impression that the devices are broken. They aren’t–they’re just not able to draw any power from the port anymore. A reboot re-enables the port, but the port will shut down again if you don’t take any action to reduce the power consumption by the mix of devices attached to the port.

When multiple devices are connected to a single USB 2.0 port via an unpowered hub, it can lead to an overcurrent situation, especially because all the devices attached to the hub have to share the 500 milliamp current available through the host’s port. The hub can only split the available current, not multiply it.

A self-powered USB 2.0 hub–that is, one with its own AC adapter–can alleviate this situation, because it can tell the host, “Don’t worry, I can take over as the provider of the current that these devices want.”

For example, if the hub’s the power supply can deliver current at a rate of 2.5 amps (100 milliamps = .1 amps), and there are five ports on the hub, the host now can let each USB 2.0 device attached to a port on the hub negotiate for up to the USB 2.0 maximum of 500 milliamps (2.5 amps / 5 ports = 500 milliamps / port) without exceeding the hub’s power capacity.

When There’s No Host
When a self-powered hub is plugged into an electrical outlet but not connected to a host–think of it as a USB-based power strip in this configuration–it becomes wildly unpredictable how devices attached to the hub will behave when trying to draw power. The original USB 2.0 spec just didn’t envision how important USB-based power consumpution would become.

Without guidance from the spec on what to do in this scenario, device manufacturers can implement whatever behaviors they desire. Some devices will pull power at the same rate as they do when attached to a host-connected hub. Other devices will downgrade to the 100 milliamp default. Certain devices may try to exceed the 500 milliamp limit in the USB 2.0 spec–not necessarily a bad thing for improving device charging times.

In the case of the Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, we saw different power consumption behaviors depending on whether the devices were powered on or off. When powered on, they could draw only 100 milliamps of power. When turned off, as explained earlier, they would draw 500 milliamps of power.

Side-by-side images show the change in power draw by the iPad when plugged into a self-powered hub that isn't attached to a computer

This image shows an iPad's power consumption when plugged into a self-powered hub that has no data connection: On the left, the iPad in a powered-on state is drawing 100 milliamps from the hub. On the right, the iPad in a powered-off state is drawing nearly 500 milliamps from the hub. Click the image for a larger view.

If you have questions about whether your specific phone, tablet, or handheld device will charge if it’s plugged into a hub that’s being used like a power strip, the only way to know is to plug the device into the hub and see what happens.

Apple Bites Back
Apple makes great devices, but it also makes the USB-charging situation even more confusing. As explained, the iPad, iPod, and iPhone will recharge when pulling 500 milliamps of current. But Apple has engineered these devices to prefer to pull more than USB 2.0-specified  maximum of 500 milliamps. However, to do so, the devices must be connected directly to USB ports that have been customized with Apple’s proprietary charging extensions.

Graphical link to Apple's explanatory document about its proprietary extensions

Click the image to go to Apple's support document that explains the proprietary USB charging behaviors in Apple's product ecosystem.

In a support document on Apple.com about USB charging, Apple explains that “some Apple computers and displays can provide up to 1100 milliamps [1.1 amps] … through the port to which the Apple peripheral or device is connected.” In other words, when an iPad or iPhone is connected to a newer Mac as its USB host, an iPad can draw current at more than twice the standard USB 2.0 rate.

The current isn’t delivered at as fast a rate as the 2.1 amps provided by Apple’s special AC wall adapter for recharging an iPad. Gizmodo has done a speed test of the fastest (and slowest) ways to charge an iPad. Charging via a Mac’s USB port at the 1.1 amp rate was the slowest way in the Gizmodo test, but it still got the job done. As we’ve identified, even 500 milliamps will get the job done as long as the iPad’s screen or power is off.

And 500 milliamps is the only rate that you’ll ever get from a Windows PC or any other USB 2.0 host that lacks Apple’s proprietary charging extensions.

You might be thinking that the ideal solution is just to get a Mac plus a USB hub. Then you can have all the benefits of multiple USB ports and can use one to charge your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch at the faster rate available when connected directly to a Mac.

Unfortunately Apple only allows these devices to draw the 1.1-amp current from a Mac’s USB port via a direct connection. Apple explains: “An Apple peripheral device must be plugged directly into an Apple computer or display. Apple peripheral devices connected to hubs will not have access to extra power above the standard USB specification of 500 milliamps.”

In other words, if you connect a hub–powered or not– to your Mac, you lose access to the proprietary charging extensions in the Mac’s USB port that allow the Mac to charge your iPad, iPhone, or iPod at the 1.1-amp rate.

If you want to know how Apple establishes these proprietary USB charging behaviors, Ladyada.net has a great video and blog post on the technical underpinnings of the mysteries of Apple device charging. As she explains, it has to do with how Apple has engineered its devices to deviate from the USB 2.0 spec when they sense a special amount of voltage from the power source on two of the four lines that make up a USB connection.

Where Do We Go from Here
There is hope that in the future USB-connectable devices will consume power in a way that meets the “universal” promise in the USB name.

There is now a USB battery-charging spec that was developed to standardize USB-based charging behaviors. Unfortunately, the spec has not yet been widely adopted. And the lack of any strong industry efforts to market or brand spec compliance makes it difficult for customers to identify and buy products that already follow the spec.

In a world where following this spec was the norm, you could plug your hub into a wall, attach a bunch of devices, and get them all to recharge in a reasonable and predictable amount of time without having to take any special action.

Regardless of what happens in the future, our aim always is to make sure that you know what to expect from Plugable products today and that you are satisfied with the ones you purchase. If you have questions or comments about this article or device charging in general, feel free to leave a reply here, and we’ll respond.

If you have other questions about any Plugable hubs, docking stations, adapters, or cables, get in touch with us through our support website at support.plugable.com or e-mail us at support@plugable.com. We’re here to help.

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Unleash the Easy Transfer Cable

With the introduction of Windows 8.1, this information is out of date. For upgrading to a Windows 8.1 computer using the Bravura Easy Computer Sync software, see here. For using the Windows Easy Transfer software to upgrade to a Windows 7 or 8 computer, see here.

The simplest way to move files from one PC to another is by direct connection. The Plugable USB-EASY-TRAN easy transfer cable allows you to connect two PCs via their USB ports and achieve data transfer rates between the two computers at USB 2.0 speeds (USB 2.0 required on both ends). Because the cable is six feet in length, you won’t have to squeeze the computers into a small space to connect them.

The power of this incredibly simple piece of hardware is maximized by two software packages.

  • Microsoft’s Windows Easy Transfer software is built in to Windows 7 and Windows 8 Consumer Preview and is available as a free download for Windows XP (SP2 or higher required) and for Windows Vista. It provides a step-by-step interface for migrating Windows user account settings and files from an old PC to a new one.
  • Plugable’s cable comes specially with a free license for Bravura Easy Computer Sync (a $19.95 retail value on its own), which enables drag-and-drop file transfer between two computers connected by the cable–a must-have tool for data management in non-networked environments. Even with a network, you can gain efficiency and security sharing data directly via the cable rather than by moving files to and from a network- or cloud-based drive.

The rest of this article focuses on when and how to use each of these two software packages.

Using Microsft Windows Easy Transfer
You’re thinking about buying a new Windows PC, but you’re daunted by the thought of transferring all your documents, photos, and Windows account settings from your trusted old PC. Have no fear. With Plugable’s easy transfer cable and Microsoft’s Windows Easy Transfer software, you can migrate

  • from a Windows XP SP2 (or higher) or Windows Vista PC to a Windows 7 or Windows 8 PC,
  • from one Windows 7 PC to another,
  • from  a Windows 7 PC to a Windows 8 PC, or
  • from one Windows 8 PC to another.

Here’s how to do it.

1.Before getting started with the cable, you need to install the latest drivers for the older PC if it is running Windows XP or Vista. Go to  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/windows-easy-transfer and download the drivers for your edition of XP or Vista.

If both PCs are running Windows 7 or later, you can skip to step No. 2.

2. Plug the easy transfer cable into a free USB port on each of the PCs (make it a USB 2.0 port if possible for the best connection speeds). Windows will attempt to recognize the cable. If you experience any errors at this point, write to support@plugable.com. If all goes properly, move on to the next step.

3. Now you need to open Microsoft’s Windows Easy Transfer software.

If you’re running Windows XP SP2 (or higher) or Windows Vista, an autorun option will give you the opportunity to launch the Windows Easy Transfer software if it’s installed. If it’s not, you’ll install it on the PC in a later step.

If you’re running Windows 7, Microsoft’s Windows Easy Transfer will open on screen when an easy transfer cable is plugged in:

Windows Easy Transfer welcome screen

If you’re running the Windows 8 beta, you’ll need to run a search on your PC for Windows Easy Transfer to launch it.

Search is available at the top of the pop-out menu that’s accessible from the lower right corner of the Windows 8 screen.

Within the search box, just type “Windows Easy Transfer”; launch Windows Easy Transfer with the icon that appears on the left.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview search results screen

4. On the new PC, you’ll select whether this is the new or old computer. Choose new and continue.

Windows Easy Transfer computer selection

5. On the new computer, you’ll be asked if you’re going to need to install Windows Easy Transfer on the old computer. You should already have addresed this in step No. 1, so select the appropriate answer from “I already installed it” or “My old computer is running Windows 7.”

Windows Easy Transfer installation options

6. On the old computer, make sure Windows Easy Transfer is running and select that it is the old computer.

7. At this stage, the Windows Easy Transfer software will connect the computers.

Windows Easy Transfer initial connection between two computers

From this point forward, you will make all your decisions on the new computer.

8. On the new PC, the Windows Easy Transfer software lets you choose what you want to pull from the old computer and how you want the synchronization to occur.

The “Customize” option lets you select which file folders and settings to synchronize on to the new PC.

Windows Easy Transfer data sync options
Choosing “Advanced” from this menu allows you to select specific files to transfer rather than the whole folder.

Back in the main window, the “Advanced Options…” link lets you decide whether to pull the whole user account associated with the files and settings from the old PC to the new PC or to merge it into an account already on the new PC.

Windows Easy Transfer account merge options

From the “Map drives” tab in this window you can determine where on the new PC the files will be transferred if you don’t want them to be placed in the same file path as they had on the old PC.

9. Once you decide what you want to copy from the old computer to the new computer, choose “Transfer” and watch the progress as the data is migrated. When it’s finished, you’ll get the chance to see what was transferred.

Another useful option that this final window offers is to see what programs were installed on your old PC that you might want to install on your new PC.

Windows Easy Transfer reporting screen

This is helpful since the Windows Easy Transfer software moves documents and account settings but not your installed apps. Now you can see what you might need to re-install on your new PC to match your old PC’s functionality.

Windows Easy Transfer list of programs on the old PC

10. You now can close the Windows Easy Transfer software on both computers and disconnect the easy transfer cable.

Using Bravura Easy Computer Sync
The first scenario involved a common requirement when setting up a new PC. But a lot of times you simply need an easy way to share files between two computers on an ongoing basis.

For those purposes, you’ll want to install and use the Bravura Easy Computer Sync software that’s made specially available to you at no extra charge once you buy a Plugable easy transfer cable. To download this software, just use the link below:
Bravura Easy Computer Sync Download

You can the Bravura software for moving any files between two PCs running Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 in any combination.

It’s easy to get started with Bravura Easy Computer sync. After your easy transfer cable purchase, you will receive an e-mail from Plugable similar to the one below (customized to your order) that tells you how to download and install the Bravura software.

Thanks for your purchase of the Plugable USB 2.0 Easy Transfer Cable!

In addition to compatibility with Microsoft’s built-in Windows Easy Transfer software, this cable also includes a full license to Bravura’s Easy Computer Sync application ($19.95 value), which adds drag and drop and other additional features.

You can download the latest version at http://www.bravurasoftware.com/easy-computer-sync/

This download also includes and installs the latest versions of Microsoft’s drivers (required on XP and Vista).

Your Bravura Easy Computer Sync product key is XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX

Please enter this key when requested by Bravura’s software.

This product key is uniquely matched to this Amazon order number, and is licensed for use with this cable on multiple machines.

1. You will need to install the Bravura software on all computers where you want to use it and then register it with the license key you received from us via e-mail (use the same key on all computers). The software works on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

2. Once the software is installed, connect the two computers with the easy transfer cable.

Close Microsoft’s Windows Easy Transfer software if it comes up automatically once the cable is attached. The Bravura software will get confused if Windows Easy Transfer is open on either end of the connection.

3. To launch the Bravura software, look for the “Easy Computer Sync” folder in the Start Menu (for Windows XP, Vista, or 7) or its icon on the Desktop (if you chose to have a shortcut put there during product installation). In Windows 8, there will be a new tile on your desktop for Easy Computer Sync.

Windows 8 Tile for Bravura Easy Computer Sync

Remember to launch the software on both computers that will be involved with the sync.

4. You’ll click “Next” on some introductory screens.

Bravura intro screen

5. When you come to a screen with default set of folders to sync, you’re almost there. This screen offers a repeat of the basic Windows Easy Transfer functionality. Ignore it in favor of using  Bravura’s drag-and-drop file transfer between the connected PCs.

To do so, click the “Drag & Drop Files” button.

Default sync screen in Bravura software

6. You’ll switch to a new UI that shows a traditional looking file manager for both computers.

You now can traverse the file system on either computer and move or copy files between the two by drag and drop or via the cut/copy/paste commands. To see the files associated with your Windows user account  (e.g., Documents, Pictures, Music, etc.) in the Documents and Settings folder, you will need to select the options to Show System Folders and Show Hidden Files. Be careful with the power of this interface. Just as when you’re in Windows Explorer, don’t move or remove any files if you don’t know what they do.

Bravura drag-and-drop UI

If You Need Help
We’ve tried to cover the basics of how you can make the most of your Plugable USB-EASY-TRAN easy transfer cable in conjunction with Windows Easy Transfer (migrating Windows account files and settings from an old to a new PC) and Bravura Easy Computer Sync (general file transfer between two computers). But we’re always here to help with your specific questions and use cases.

Feel free to comment here or write us at support@plugable.com.

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Go the Distance: The USB2-5M Extension Cable

Sometimes the USB cable that comes with a device is just too short.

Maybe you have a non-networkable printer or scanner that you need to set up across the room–or in a different room altogether–than the connected computer is located. Perhaps you’re mounting a USB device like a webcam or speakers high on the wall but your PC or Mac needs to remain on the floor. Or maybe you’re a gamer and want to use and recharge your PS3 DualShock controller simultaneously from the comfort of your couch rather than having to crowd up close to the console.

Suffice it to say, there are plenty of scenarios where you need a long USB cable. Plugable’s USB2-5M active extension cable lets you extend USB devices up to five meters (16 feet) from the system or hub to which they’re connected.

Because the USB2-5M adheres to the USB 2.0 spec for the length of USB extension cables for data transmission, you can use it to connect any class of USB devices. Quality shielding and an active-repeater (a hub controller) help to ensure a strong data signal as it travels the length of the cable. We use the best chip on the market for this application.

You can even string USB2-5M cables together to achieve a really long reach (USB 2.0 has a built-in depth limit of 5 hubs/devices, so typically 3 or 4 cables is the most you’ll be able to string together before hitting that limit).

As an active cable, each USB2-5M will draw 100 milliamps of the 500 total milliamps of available current from the host USB port to which it’s plugged in.

If the peripheral that you’re going to attach to the cable also draws its power from the USB port rather than its own external power supply, you might need to connect an AC-powered hub between the cable and the peripheral. The powered hub will ensure that the peripheral has access to sufficient amperage rather than competing with the cable for current from the host port.

If you have questions about scenarios in which you think the USB2-5M would be beneficial, feel free to comment. And don’t hesitate to write to us on the public support forum at http://support.plugable.com or privately via e-mail at support@plugable.com. We’re here to help.

Plugable 5 Meter (16 Foot) USB 2.0 Active Extension Cable Type A Male to A Female... Product Details
$11.95