Hardware Review: 4-Port USB Hub CNX-P5USB
The absolute best solution for USB expansion/management in the automotive environment
I was recently given the opportunity to test the carnetix CNX-P5USB by MP3car. What you get is what you see here... the USB hub, a USB cable, and the required power cables. No instructions come with the unit but they are available at the mp3car store on the details page. Most people need instructions as installation is very simple. You simply connect the 4-pin power barrel to the hub, then wire the red, white, and black wires to unregulated 12v, remote, and ground respectively. The ability to take an unregulated power source means you no longer have to worry about 12v to 5v converters or finding an additional power supply to power your hub! The 4th pin with the blue wire is omitted (the mystery continues!). Lastly you connect the USB cable to your computer and the devices green LEDs come to life. In case you are the type to get a little TOO excited and cross connect some wires you'll be happy to know that the USB hub has built-in reverse polarity protection. I have tested this (dont ask how) and can confirm that after a little fizzle the device comes back to life.
Configuration of the devices 4 settings is done via jumpers inside of the casing. Simply disconnect the power barrel, unscrew the top and you'll see two jumpers. The first jumper is labeled USB/IGN and it controls how the hub is powered up. Most standard hubs will power up only when the usb line sees 5v.. but the beauty of the CNX-P5USB is that you can set it to turn on when the ignition turns on AND turn off when the ignition goes off. For people that use hibernation this is a LIFE SAVER as this essentially uninstalls all usb devices connected to the hub before hibernation and reinstalls them upon resume. NO MORE HIBERNATE/USB gremlins! I personally use the hub with my andrea mic, bluetooth dongle, and verizon broadband card. Each card snaps back to life when my computer resumes. If you prefer the standard approach you can set the CNX-P5USB to come up upon detection of 5v on the usb line. This option allows you to use the second jumper which allows you to specify a delay in the hub powering down once the computer has been turned off. I havent done much testing with this setting but i would assume it has some hibernation benefits as well. There are 2 options with this jumper... 5 second and 25 second delay
The drivers are standard windows drivers so installation in windows is a breeze. Inside of the device manager, the hub shows up under the USB header just as any other hub you've used. Pluging in usb devices to the hub is typical too.. with the exception that every usb device on the hub is guaranteed 500ma.. that means your high power devices like hard drives and dvd roms will STAY powered with no disconnect issues.
Overall, i couldnt be more happy with the CNX-P5USB. I've had 7 or 8 different variations of hubs in my car and none have ever be anywhere near reliable and customizable. Its a MUST BUY in my mind :)