Welcome to our first product road test.
Like many with MacBooks and MacBook Pros I sometimes find 2 USB ports insufficient. This limitation lead me to explore options for USB hubs, and this week’s test of the Aero Cool R3A0000 Hub Pro, 7 Port USB Hub with 3 charging ports.
This limitation is not unique to Apple computers, with most Windows laptops, and many desktops having a limited number of USB ports.
I have the 15” RMBP hooked up to a Logitech WiFi headset via USB dongle, USB to ethernet, plus iPad Pro 12.9 running Duet for extra screen real estate, I can’t swap the USB to Ethernet for the Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter as both Thunderbolt ports are used for external monitors. From time to time I also connect USB drives to import video files, and the occasional bootable backup to ‘back up’ my constant Time Capsule backups.
So many applications, so few ports!
The solution comes in the form of a USB hub, with many options in the market.
I chose the Aero Cool R3A0000 Hub Pro to test for several reasons. 7 ports is good in anyone’s language, plus the three dedicated charging ports (1 x 2.4A, 2 x 1A) are a decided bonus. The only downside is it needs a power brick to supply the needed juice.
The Aero Cool R3A0000 is available here in Australia from a number of outlets at around the $79.00 inc GST price point. For US customers, Orico offer the same product under their brand on Amazon for $US41.99
The Hub in Action
Low Power Devices.
Connecting an iPhone to one of the USB ports results in iTunes immediately recognising the device, and the charging symbol being displayed. Synching can be carried out without any issue at all, and the charging, though slow is useful.
High Power Devices.
Connect something like a 12.9” iPad Pro and it’s a different story. A ‘Device Not Charging’ alert is displayed. If you allow the iPad Pro to go into standby mode, it does trickle (the operative word been TRICKLE) charge. In practical terms you have to choose between using the iPad Pro with the USB port, or plugging it into the 2.4A outlet.
Using the iPad Pro with Duet worked a treat, with no signs of lag caused by the the Hub in the chain, nor the iPhone and headset plugged in to other outlets in the hub. One caveat with using the iPad Pro with the hub is the need to charge using either the 2.4A outlet, or an Apple charger overnight, else the iPad will run out of power part way through the second day.
I did experience some voice ‘chopping’ with the Logitech WiFi headset, though could not be certain if that was entirely a function of the hub, or the headset. Even plugged directly into the USB port, there are sometimes call quality issues with the Logitech using a softphone. A simple Plantronics USB stereo cable headset, my fallback headset, worked without issue, but then that seems to work with any equipment.
External hard drives plugged into the hub seem to work equally well as a direct connection, with no apparent power issues. An integrity check on multiple backups indicated no issues.
The unit is cleanly styled in a clear anodised aluminium that fits in well alongside the MacBook Pro, or on the stand of an iMac.
While I found the device to be solidly made and fit for function, there were several slight niggles.
I did find the supplied USB cable to be on the thick side and not as flexible as quality cables, leading to a slightly messy look. The mouldings on the connectors are also somewhat on the bulky side, again, detracting from the overall impression.
The USB power outlets were not quite aligned correctly, necessitating a bit of ‘wiggling’ to get cables plugged in the first time, including quality Apple USB cables.
The power brick is somewhat on the bulky side, presumably specified to price, not performance.
The R3A0000 Hub Pro is a reasonable product that works well with all devices tested, with no serious issues apart from the cable look, and the ‘jiggling’ to get a fit first time up.
I rate it a solid buy if you need a good looking USB hub with the added benefit of power for charging additional devices.
I rate the Aero Cool R3A0000 a solid 4 thumbs up!
|Model Name||ASA Hub Pro R3A0000 SL (ACAH-R3A0000-31)|
|Port||7 SuperSpeed USB3.0 Ports,1 x 5V2.1A & 2 x 5V1A Charging Ports|
|Power Supply||3.3Ft. / 1M USB3.0 Cord|
|Power Supply||DC12V 3A|
|Driver||Driver Not Required|
|Supported System||Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, Mac OS and Linux|
|Dimension||183 x 67 x 34mm|