I’m a big believer in USB 3.0, having come to rely on it as part of the Tech Field Day video production workflow. But I’m also a believer in traveling light and reducing clutter in my computer bag. That’s why I’m thrilled about the Cable Matters Ultra-Mini 4-Port SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Hub!
My 2012 Retina MacBook Pro is a real video production workhorse. The combination of a quad-core 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7 CPU and high-resolution display really lets Tom and me fly through Final Cut Pro! But I’ve long since learned to keep all that data off the paltry internal SSD, since a few days worth of HD video can quickly eat up terabytes of storage space.
Our standard video production workflow includes importing the video we get from PrimeImage Media through Final Cut Pro X to a SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 thumb drive. These little suckers are fast enough to be primary storage for our editing work, and 64 GB is enough space for a few Tech Field Day sessions at least. I’m considering upgrading to the new, larger SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.0 flash drives, but we already have a half dozen of the older ones and they’re doing just fine so far.
But the MacBook Pro only has two USB 3.0 ports, and I often need more than that: Plug in a couple of the SanDisk drives, plus an external hard disk drive for bulk storage and maybe an extra card reader and you’re way over port-count! I’ve long been a fan of the portable Satechi 4-port USB 3.0 hub, since it works great with Macs and doesn’t require a “wall wart” power supply. But then something new and slim caught my eye…
The Cable Matters Ultra-Mini 4-Port SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Hub is a lot like the Satechi in that it’s bus-powered, has four ports, and uses a short integrated cable. But the Cable Matters is just so darn tiny! It’s much less bulky to carry around, and the cable plugs into one of the ports so it can hang from an internal loop in my bag.
I tested the Cable Matters hub with a full load of peripherals (2x SanDisk Extreme drives, 1x HP USB3 portable hard disk, 1x USB 2.0 card reader) and it passed with flying colors. The combination of the hub and the Mac’s high-powered ports means it’s possible (though perhaps not advisable) to run a portable hard disk on the hub.
Like the Satechi, the Cable Matters portable uses a Via Labs USB 3.0 hub chipset which handles 3.0 and 2.0 peripherals with ease. Not all USB hub chipsets work well with the Mac, but the Via is a good one. There are a couple of similar-looking hubs on Amazon right now, but I bought the Cable Matters version because reasons. I can’t vouch for the others.
One more cool thing: The Cable Matters 4-Port SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Mini “Quad” Hub is just $9.99 from Amazon right now, complete with free shipping. What are you waiting for?
Disclaimer: Some of these links pay me a referral fee. But I’m not going to get rich pushing $10 USB hubs. I bought one and like it and am just sharing the love.