Short of USB ports? Most computers come with only two or three USB ports. Here are a couple of ways to add extra ports and take away the hassle of constantly switching devices.
Things You'll Need
- USB Hub or USB PCMCIA or ExpressCard if compatible
I recommend you pick the USB port that is the least accessible to you while using your computer. Most USB hubs come with a wire that should reach around your computer. You should consider reserving more accessible ports for devices you readily swap out. Most USB hubs are not powered by their connection to the laptop (I explain this later, read on).
While a hub is good if wish you set up printers, scanners, and other table top devices that you don't mind detaching from when on the move, a PCMCIA card is better if you need more ports on the go. This card will slip right into a slot in your computer so you don't have to worry about it clunking around or adjusting it for on the go computing. Again, most of these devices are not self powered (read on).
A USB card will likely provide you with a greater number of ports than the card and if you can find a creative way to attach this hub to your laptop via Velcro or whatnot then that may be the way to go.
An important consideration when using these devices is that most of them are not powered and require an outside adapter to power them. For your printer, scanner, cameras, and most external hard drives this means nothing. But if you plan on using some devices that need to draw power from the port for data transfer like certain MP3 players, disk/hard drives, other peripherals they will not work.
The solution? Make sure your reserve some of the original powered computer USB ports for these devices. You could also use a spare A/C adapter to power these Hubs and cards as most of them support a power source. Check out your device manual for details.
The best solution to said power problem may be that you look online for a USB to Hub, or USB to PCMCIA power cord. What this will do is supply extra power to your extra port device via a second computer USB port so that you can power them on the go. These can be had for very cheap on eBay and elsewhere. Note that their effectiveness with your chosen setup may differ from someone else.
Tips & Warnings
- I suggest a USB Hub for the easiest fix. You will probably get more ports and don't need to worry about compatibility issues.
- Check to see if you system can use these devices. Hubs are pretty universal while a PCMCIA card or Cardbus may give you some unwanted incompatibility issues.
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