The USB Hub and Conclusions

The USB Hub

The USB hub is pretty straight-forward. You plug it into a free USB port on your notebook and you gain three extra USB ports on the Alto. As great as this sounds, there are some problems with the design of this hub.

The biggest problem is that the hub is hopelessly under-powered. I tried the following devices individually on a single port on the Alto:

  • OCZ Rally 512MB Flash Drive
  • Thumb-sized SD-card reader
  • 2.5″ HDD enclosure with 5600 RPM SATA drive
  • Logitech MX510 mouse

Of all of these four devices, only the MX510 mouse was able to be used and all other devices caused this problem:

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Even small devices like the flash drive and the SD card reader managed to overload the power on the Alto. This is a bad oversight on Logitech’s part because this makes the USB very impractical to use.

Luckily Logitech offers a wall adapter which gives the USB hub a bit more power. The power adapter is pretty interesting as it comes with European and North American plug adapters and supports 100-240V so you can carry it with you when you travel globally. Unfortunately the wall adapter is an optional accessory which you will have to purchase separately.

Impressions and Conclusions

The Logitech Alto is an potentially useful apparatus which integrates the comfort of a more natural LCD height for a notebook, while giving you the usefulness of a full-sized keyboard. The portability of the Alto is handy if you need to take it with you on the road to a hotel room, or to a conference.

However, there are some quirks. The most serious is that the USB hub is under powered and wasn’t able to power anything more than a mouse. If you want to use other USB devices, you will need to purchase the optional wall adapter which is an extra burden for the user.

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The design of the Alto is a but awkward for notebooks with angled front edges. Since these computers will need to rest on the hinge of the Alto, the keyboard kickstand won’t stay up and you lose any access to any ports along the front edge of the computer. I wish the Alto had a better lip (aka. the bumper) to accommodate a wider range of laptop designs.

Overall the Logitech Alto does what it sets out to do, but a few design shortcomings keeps it from being a product I would recommend universally for notebook users. If you are interested in the Logitech Alto, best to test it inside the store before walking out the door.

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