|Icron USB Ranger 2211 Range Extender|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Tuesday, 22 May 2012|
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Icron USB Ranger 2211 Review
Manufacturer: Icron Technologies Corporation
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by Icron Technologies.
Everything from Rocket Launchers to Dancing Clowns are available as a USB peripheral these days. Most of us keep our USB devices within arm's length on our desktop, but there are circumstances where a little more distance is either desirable, or unavoidable. That's the general case for the average consumer; the commercial or industrial user has a tougher set of requirements. They have Rocket Launchers and Dancing Clowns too, but they're the full-sized versions, or maybe the giant-sized display versions. You can bet that the computers which control them are located more than 5 meters away. That's the reason for today's article; what to do when your USB device is 300 feet away from your PC? You find a device like the Icron USB Ranger 2211, and a big spool of Cat 5 Ethernet cable, and you hook it up, no problem! Just so you can be sure that there won't be any problems, Benchmark Reviews put the latest USB extender from Icron Technologies on the test bench, and we have a complete set of results for you. We also look under the hood, and show you the technology that's inside.
The popular USB serial interface has some limitations, which is not unusual for any computer hardware standard. Compatibility has been one of its strong points since it was introduced in 1994, and transfer speeds have kept up with inflation. By introducing USB 2.0 in the year 2000 and then USB 3.0 in 2008, the competing standards were kept at bay with ever-increasing USB speeds, available in a friendly and familiar package. The speed increases were significant, from the original 12 Mb/s to the current 5 Gb/s, it's hard to argue with a 400x increase. So, what's not to like? The 5 meter length limit is the only thing that I've struggled with over the years. When setting up a home office, it often makes sense to locate printers and other peripherals on the other side of the room from the workstation. If you route the wires any way but "as the crow flies", you are going to exceed the 5 meter limit. Sometimes you can get away with it, other times it just won't work. More often than not, it'll work most of the time, and only fail when you're in the middle of an important print job.
The other limitation that USB suffers from is power delivery through the interface. Various schemes have been introduced, such as charging downstream ports (CDP) and dedicated charging ports (DCP), but the basic USB 2.0 device is limited to 500mA and USB 3.0 devices are limited to 900mA. The most frequent case where maximum power draw becomes an issue is for portable HDDs. Most of them use low RPM drives, especially in the 2.5" form factor, but some of us like to push the envelope a bit and stick 7200 RPM notebook drives into our portable enclosures. We all know to carry around our dedicated "Y" cables, so we can pull power out of two USB ports simultaneously and handle the startup current for the platter motor. It's the price you pay for that extra bit of performance.