Category Archives: Networking

Plugable Launches Dual Display USB 3.0 to HDMI/DVI and Ethernet Adapter for Windows (USB3-3900DHE)

With just a couple of display cables and an Ethernet cable, Plugable’s new USB3-3900DHE lets you turn your Windows tablet or laptop into a traveling productivity powerhouse.

Featuring a minimalist design that maximizes the functionality of the DisplayLink DL-3900 chip, the USB3-3900DHE is a perfect companion for any business traveler with a Windows laptop or tablet. It turns a Windows 8.1 tablet without Ethernet and video ports into a mobile multi-monitor machine. Or combine with a powered USB 3.0 hub to build a customized single-cable USB 3.0 docking solution.

Its dual-video outputs (HDMI plus DVI with a DVI to VGA adapter) and a gigabit Ethernet port are connected back to your Windows PC and powered with a single USB 3.0 cable. The DVI and HDMI outputs are completely independent — able to drive two additional monitors of any resolution up to 2048×1152 with arbitrary positioning and an extended Windows desktop across them both. The USB3-3900HE packs the single-cable docking experience you enjoy at your desk, into a compact package to take on the road and into the conference room.

DisplayLink’s drivers have been updated to take full advantage of Windows 8.1 on this adapter. New features in Windows 8.1 provide users a more traditional Windows experience, while making the most of the Modern UI Metro applications introduced in Windows 8. You can boot straight to the desktop and display your Metro applications on one screen and your desktop on another. You can even mix and match your Metro application configurations.

Improvements to the Windows taskbar and enhanced Start screen options drastically improve the Windows 8.1 experience on multiple-monitor systems. Simply adding your desktop background to the Start screen can go a long way towards alleviating the disjointed experience of Windows 8. The ability to automatically show apps on the Start screen and prioritize desktop apps can provide a much more familiar experience to users who prefer the traditional Windows Start menu.

USB graphics is “virtual” in that it uses the CPU and GPU to do all rendering. So it’s not recommended for 3D gaming or full-length movies (youtube quality is fine), and it requires a PC with 2 cores 2Ghz or better for low-latency use.

Mac users — be warned that OS X support for display over USB is currently very limited, especially for dual-head products like the USB3-3900DHE. The DisplayLink drivers are beta-grade for 10.8.5 (Mountain Lion) and alpha-grade for 10.9 (Mavericks). Due to multiple issues and limitations with dual-head displays, OS X 10.9 should be considered to support single-head display only, until DisplayLink and Apple are able to put out point releases on 10.9 in coming months.

If you have any questions at all about the product, feel free to post below or email support@plugable.com. Thanks for going out of your way for Plugable products!

Plugable USB 3.0 Dual-Head Graphics (DVI / VGA plus HDMI) and Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (DL3900 chipset) for Windows ... Product Details
$64.00
usb2-e1000_128

Supporting PXE over USB Deployment Scenarios for tablets and ultrabooks

Many enterprise IT admins are facing a new challenge: how to deploy and manage systems with only WiFi for networking and USB for IO ports.  As a result, we’re often asked whether our USB network adapters support PXE boot.  In short, this is the wrong question- Mu.

When designing a deployment environment where USB is your fastest or only I/O option, it is likely that using bootable USB storage devices to abstract away from the limitations of the motherboard UEFI/BIOS will be your best option for two reasons:

1. Support for booting USB mass storage class devices is class-based and ubiquitous.  Almost all modern motherboard BIOS/UEFI builds support USB mass storage class device boot. A number of minimal OS with support for accessing a network share and installing the OS via this pre-installation environment. One valid option would be to use an CD ISO to USB bootable converter program like LiLi to create a USB Bootable iPXE environment, and add the open-source 88179 driver here if you need wired and can’t boot from built-in wireless. Another would be to use Windows PE with Bootcamp drivers for Windows as discussed here on Technet forums. In either case, the key is to build support for the network driver into a USB bootable pre-installation environment.

2. Support for USB network devices is not class driver based- individual chips have notable functional differences, and as such there is no class driver for USB networking- thus, support is left to motherboard OEM’s to build support for individual networking devices into their devices- a challenging task.

For this to be possible, the BIOS/UEFI on the motherboard has to natively support the chip used in the USB network adapter- so this answer will always depend on the motherboard, and require research into both the chipset of the USB network device and then whether the UEFI/BIOS a given motherboard runs supports this chip.

The vast majority of “legacy” systems will NOT have the ability to PXE boot a USB attached adapter. On more modern systems, this functionality will vary from model to model and is NOT something we can answer with certainty, as it is effectively a question of whether the motherboard’s software has support for the chip used in the adapter.

This is much less likely to work on newer USB 3.0 networking devices than on  USB 2.0 devices, since those are based on chips that have been around longer, thus giving motherboard OEMs and the open source community time to integrate support for these USB devices into BIOS/UEFI and the alternate pre-installation environments. 

Our most widely compatible adapter, capable of 10/100 operation rather than gigabit speeds, is the AX88772 based Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100 Fast Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Macbook, Chromebook, Windows 8 and Earlier, Surface Pro, Wii, Wii U, Linux, and Specific Android Tablets (ASIX AX88772 chipset)

For Gigabit connection speeds (although potentially lower performance than the USB3-E1000), check for support for the ASIX 88178 chip used in our, consider the Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Linux, and Specific Android Tablets (ASIX AX88178 Chipset)

While it is theoretically possible to select only hardware that has native support for booting form USB network adapters, unless you need to PXE boot regularly or are trying to integrate ultra books with SCCM or some other enterprise management system, in most deployment only scenarios it should be easier to use USB media to deploy from since it is relatively easy to setup a USB bootable pre-installation environment, and build support for the driver into the PE instead of having to investigate BIOS/UEFI support for USB network device chips before making every device purchase. Information about what chips are supported this way is virtually impossible to find outside of hands on testing.

Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100 Fast Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Macbook, Chromebook, Windows 8.1 and Earlier,... Product Details
$12.95

Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Linux, and ... Product Details
$25.00

Wired Ethernet Connectivity for the Microsoft Surface

UPDATE 5/12/2014: The information below is out of date. Beyond Microsoft asking us to remove the driver download, this process will no longer work on Windows 8.1 due to the driver not being signed for use on Windows 8.1.

When you first plug in a USB Ethernet adapter (and network cable), the Surface will not automatically install a driver.

Microsoft has sent confusing or negative messages about supporting driver installs on Windows RT and the Microsoft Surface. It’s possible they’ll disable things in the future. But today, it turns out to be possible to get wired Ethernet connectivity on the Microsoft Surface (which is otherwise Wifi only by default) with the right hardware and a driver install.

Here’s how with the Plugable USB 2.0 10/100 Ethernet Adapter.

First, download the driver for the Plugable USB2-E100. (Filename: AX88772B_772A_772_WinRT_Driver_v3.16.0.1807.zip)[update 12/23/2012 - Microsoft has asked that this driver no longer be distributed by ASIX or adapter makers like us].

See this post for details. The rest of the instructions which follow will work on the Microsoft Surface (and perhaps other Windows RT ARM devices), if a search of the driver name above finds any available sources.

Then use the Windows Shell to uncompress the .zip file into its own folder. Later we’ll be pointing Windows at this directory from Device Manager.

You must start Windows Device Manager manually. The quickest way is by hitting the Windows-R hotkey, and run “hdwwiz.cpl” to open Windows Device Manager.

You’ll see the new Plugable USB Ethernet device marked with a yellow triangle because it has no driver installed.

Now right click on that device and select “Update Driver Software”

Searching won’t find the driver. Browse to the specific location we unzipped the driver previously.

Windows will look for the .inf file of the driver in the directory chosen. Assuming it’s there, click next to install the driver.

The driver is now installed. With the Plugable USB Ethernet adapter and cable connected, your wired network connection will come up.

Some networks (especially corporate ones) may be limited to certain MAC addresses or have other configuration issues, that are usually solvable.

Any problems? Let us know – we’ll work to help. Comment here or just email our support team at support@plugable.com (We’re in Seattle, WA / Pacific Timezone). Thanks!

Where to Buy

Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100 Fast Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Macbook, Chromebook, Windows 8.1 and Earlier,... Product Details
$12.95

USB Gigabit Ethernet speed on Mac OS X

USB to Gigabit Ethernet adapters are especially useful for adding faster wired network capability to otherwise WiFi-only machines like the Macbook Air.

You can buy Apple’s branded 10/100 USB adapter — but price-wise, it will cost more than some gigabit adapters (like our Plugable USB Gigabit adapter). A gigabit adapter is also a nice upgrade for machines that only have a 10/100 ethernet port, but are connecting to a gigabit-capable network.

Because there’s often confusion about the rated speeds and actual throughput, especially when running 1000Mbps Ethernet over USB 2.0′s 480Mbps bus, we did some testing to establish a base line.

The test:

We installed the latest ASIX AX88178 Mac drivers for the Plugable Gigabit Adapter (currently v6.3.0). We used the open source network testing tool iperf running on a Mac Mini Server running 10.7.3 and a MacBook running 10.6.8. If you’d like to duplicate our tests, here’s a nice pre-compiled GUI version available here: JPerf-2.0.2.dmg. In order to isolate the adapters as completely as possible, we connected directly between two ethernet ports, set the address manually and ran iperf as both server and client in each direction. Remember that in order to get gigabit speeds, your entire network (including any routers in-between) need to be gigabit capable.

The results:

PCI-Gigabit Ethernet
940/936
USB-to-Gigabit Ethernet (Plugable USB2-E1000)
250/320
USB 10/100 Ethernet
94/94

* send/receive speeds to a 2nd machine running PCI Gigabit Ethernet

These are low-level performance numbers (raw TCP/IP throughput). Real world throughput like copying a file over the network will be substantially lower due to transport overhead and any bottlenecks on the network or on either side of the transfer.

Using a tool like iperf and isolating the ethernet adapters to a direct connection establishes a base line for data speeds. To further identify potential networking bottlenecks, introduce one network component at a time and rerun your tests to see how the throughput is effected by the increasing complexity.

For detailed instructions on installing Mac drivers for the Plugable USB2-E1000, see Howto: Installing ASIX’s USB Gigabit Ethernet Driver on Mac OS X Lion 10.7.

We hope these numbers are useful to set performance expectations. Have any questions? We’d be happy to help. Reply here or email support@plugable.com anytime. Thanks!

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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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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.

 

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