Silex Technology has its headquarters in Osaka, Japan and has been providing networking solutions for well-known printer manufacturers for over a decade. It recently entered the USB device server market and currently has three USB device server products: the SX-5000U2 four-port USB 2.0, SX-3700WB wireless USB device server, and recently-introduced SX-1000U. I chose to review the SX-1000U, since it most closely matched the Keyspan USB server in price.
15 February 2005 update
The SX-1000U's single USB port may at first glance seem like a limitation. But you can attach a USB Hub to support connection to a maximum number of 15 USB devices. This is in contrast with the KeySpan USB server, which supports a maximum of 4 USB devices via its built-in hub and doesn't allow attachment of external USB hubs.
At time of this review, Silex' USB servers support only one-to-one device / host relationships for all devices. However, they expect that they will have a new USB Server that will be able to support one-to-N relationships for printing only sometime this quarter (Q1 2005). Improvements are also planned this quarter to allow multiple requests to a device to be sent in succession.
Straight out of the box, the SX-1000U sports a rather shiny white case about 4 x 4 x 1 inches (Figure 2). In the front, you'll find a small black button (not recessed) for resetting the device to its defaults, and on the back you'll find one standard RJ45 connector, a USB 2.0 "Full-Speed" port and a power jack for the 5V power wart.
NOTE: USB 2.0 "Full-Speed" is just marketing-ese for USB 1.1. Both provide a maximum 12Mbps transfer rate.
I would have preferred the device to be heavier to prevent sliding, but there are at least some little rubber feet on the bottom to help out. Inside the box you'll also find a CD for Microsoft Windows with PDF manuals and configuration utilities, a setup guide, warranty info, and a compact 5V DC power wart that should only take up one position on your power strip.
Figure 2: Inside The Silex SX-1000U Retail Box
(click image to enlarge)
Silex SX-1000U - A Look Inside
Figure 3 shows the SX-1000U's board, which is based on a Winbond W90N740 32-bit ARM7TDMI-based MCU. It has built-in support for two 10/100 Ethernet MACs and a USB 1.1 host controller hub with one port tranceiver. A Micrel KS8721BL 10/100 Ethernet PHY completes the single Ethernet port and RAM and Flash round out the board.