This is an idea that is long overdue – a USB device server:
IOGEAR today announced the release of its USB Net ShareStation, which enables network sharing of USB devices, including speakers and webcams.
The ShareStation (GUIP201) has a single USB 2.0 port, but can be connected to an AC powered four-port USB hub to support up to four devices. Devices supported include hard and flash drives, memory card readers, multifunction printers in addition to webcams and USB speakers.
This is a game-changer in terms of home network layout. Now, you can conceivably have a single network closet with your router, printer, external hard drives, etc and access them all freely iwth any laptop. There are various ways to do the same thing with other methods, such as printer sharing on a windows workgroup, a print server, a NAS, etc but this new device lets you do it all much mroe easily and with existing hardware.
5 thoughts on “USB server”
How is this news? There are dozens of USB-over-Ethernet and USB-over-IP gadgets on the market (all incompatible). So IOGEAR adds another one. Big deal!
Don’t forget that printer and drive sharing allows more than one system accessing those resources, which USB extenders do not allow.
Also, this thing needs host drivers, so it’s Windows-only.
I think the difference here is that this is a generic USB device, which means you don’t need to go get a NAS and a print server but now just one of these babies and a regular printer and external disk. I am not aware of any device that did this before – its exactly what I was looking for a while ago in fact. If you know of a product though then please do point me to it.
The device does support multi-PC access of the devices, assuming you’ve connected it to your router. See this diagram:
I wonder how it arbitrates access to the devices. Things could get interesting if two machines decided to print something at the same time. Or wandered through a disk looking for a block to allocate to a file.
as far as printing goes, I think it does have a built-in print spooler, just like a regular print server.
There’s not a whole lot of innovation in this device. Apple has had similar functionality in their wifi products for years and while this has printer/data/speakers all in one (whereas Apple products all have only 2 out of the 3), this isn’t groundbreaking by any means.
These days for printer sharing, the best way to do it is to get a printer that has an ethernet or wifi interface built in. It’s platform agnostic and not that expensive.
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