USB hubs are often hard to tell apart from one another: the Moshi iLynx 3 I reviewed here in February was the rare hub that actually matched the silver metal and black plastic look of the Macs it was designed to be used with. After an extended post-announcement delay, long-time Mac accessory maker Mobee Technology has finally released an alternative that uses two cool tricks to stand apart from all of its rivals: the Magic Hub ($50).

Five inches tall, 2.6″ wide and around 2″ thick, the Magic Hub is the first USB hub designed such that its physical characteristics are all but irrelevant. Mobee’s concept is to completely hide the Hub behind your iMac, filling the hole Apple left in the iMac’s stand using a screw-on clamp and a pass-through wall power port. Rather than requiring its own wall outlet for power, it hijacks the iMac’s power cable and passes power through both itself and your computer, powering four USB 3.0 ports in the process. If that sounds cool, read on…

Key Details:

  • USB 3.0 hub hides completely behind an iMac
  • Adds four USB 3.0 ports while using one of the iMac’s ports
  • Includes 2.1-Amp charging port, even if the iMac is turned off
  • Uses the iMac’s wall power cable rather than requiring an outlet
  • Can’t be used with other Mac models due to outlet design

 

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Mobee’s Magic Hub bundle is very simple: you get the silver hub, a star-shaped screw-on clamp, and a detachable USB 3.0 cable. Although Magic Hub looks as metallic as the iMac, it’s actually made from silver plastic with blue-tipped USB ports, an integrated, Mac-matching gray power cable, and a white USB cable. The parts don’t look or feel as fancy as the ones included with Moshi’s iLynx 3, but unless your iMac is visible from behind, no one will be seeing the Hub or its cabling once they’re connected.

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Rather than trying to stuff its screw-in core precisely within the edges of the iMac’s stand, Magic Hub’s protruding rear circle is a little smaller, so you won’t scuff the plastic or metal when they’re put together. Rubber on the Hub and the star-shaped clamp further prevent the plastic and metal surfaces from making contact with one another. You plug the Hub’s power cable into your iMac, and your iMac’s power cable into the Hub, a neat little cord-eliminating trick I haven’t seen before on a Mac USB hub.

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Once the Magic Hub has been attached, you get twin USB 3.0 ports on each side, while occupying one of the iMac’s existing USB ports to make the connection, a net gain of three ports. One of the Magic Hub ports is labelled iPad, letting you know that you can connect a cable or dock to it and get continuous 2.1-Amp power output regardless of whether the iMac is turned on. iLynx 3 does the same thing, a convenience for users who want to be guaranteed access to a charger at all times.

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In my testing, the Magic Hub worked as expected; there wasn’t any problem with devices performing at their expected speeds and receiving necessary power. And Mobee’s price is $10 lower than Moshi’s for iLynx 3, which makes this a better value if you can use it. The only issue is Magic Hub’s limited Mac compatibility: it’s really only suited to use with the most recent USB 3.0-equipped iMacs, as the lack of a wall adapter precludes it from being powered properly by MacBooks, and the shape makes it a less desirable choice for machines where it can’t be mounted. It can be used with pre-USB 3 iMacs, but without the speed benefits that make it most appealing. Thanks to its broader compatibility, iLynx 3 may appeal to a wider variety of Mac users, but if you’re an iMac user — particularly a newer iMac owner — Magic Hub may be worth considering, regardless.

Manufacturer: Mobee Technology Price: $50 Compatibility: iMacs (Late 2012+)

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