capsule review

Port access, updated

Back in December 2004, I covered Marathon’s RePorter (   ), a $59 “extension cord” for your computer’s various ports. Designed to make it easier to access ports located on the back of an inconveniently-placed computer, the RePorter plugged into the various jacks on your Mac and then, via a 5-foot cable, placed a small hub hosting those ports on your desk.

Unfortunately, Marathon went out of business last year; since then I’ve received a good number of emails from readers asking if I knew of a similar product I could recommend. Although it’s not quite as attractive as the RePorter, Nyko’s $60 Desktop Multi-Hub (   ) fits the bill.

Like the RePorter, the Desktop Multi-Hub plugs into the ports on your computer and extends them to a “hub” on your desktop (or anywhere else more convenient); however, the Multi-Hub offers a few more ports than the RePorter:

Desktop Multi-Hub RePorter
1 FireWire 400 (6-pin) 1 FireWire 400 (6-pin)
1 FireWire 400 (4-pin/unpowered)
1 FireWire 800
headphone/audio-out headphone/audio-out
audio-in audio-in
4 USB 2.0 2 USB 2.0
2 PS/2
S-video
VGA cable

Granted, the Multi-Hub’s PS/2 ports won’t be of much use to a Mac user, nor will the 4-pin FireWire port; on the other hand, you pick up a couple additional USB ports on the Multi-Hub, which will likely be more useful to the typical Mac user than the FireWire 800 port you lose. You also get an additional foot of cable length—for a total of 6 feet—over the RePorter. Overall, the Desktop Multi-Hub provides a bit more functionality than the RePorter for basically the same price.

Nyko Desktop Multi-Hub

Where the Multi-Hub fall short of the RePorter is in aesthetics. The RePorter was a compact (3"), gloss-white ball with a single, relatively thin cable; the Desktop Multi-Hub is a 4.75-inch, gray hexagonal hub with a bulky metallic main cable and a separate VGA cable. And although the flat design of the Multi-Hub addresses one of my criticisms of the RePorter—that its round shape allowed it to roll around—because the Multi-Hub’s ports are spread around the outside of the hexagon, you end up with a mess of cable “spokes” on your desktop once everything is plugged in.

Still, if you’ve been looking for a way to get your ports up onto your desk when your Mac is stuck underneath it, the Multi-Hub may be the only game in town. And utilitarian looks aside, it works well.

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