Because I purchased this to replace the previous version of the TARDIS USB Hub I own, this review will consist of comparisons between the updated '2011 TARDIS version' and the previous '2005 TARDIS version'. There is little in the way of changes to the functionality and usefulness of the item, so I'll cover that first and move on to what is (in my opinion) a more impotant facet: the aesthetics. I'm updating from the previous USB Hub for only one reason: I like the look of the new TARDIS better!
***** 1. Functionality
The plug & play as well as the physical functionality of the TARDIS USB Hub in general is very dependable and can in almost every way compete with all other standard multiple USB ports. There are four USB ports (two on each side). All of them are easily accessible, well placed for what the product is, are neither tight nor loose, and I've never once had a struggle or negative moment while using them. There is no software needed or extraneous items needed to run the unit. After solid week's worth of use and compared to the previous unit, there seems to be zero change to the functionality.
There is a port for an 7.5 DC adapter to power the unit. Note that this adapter was ~not~ included with my product (new or old) and I did not expect that it should be. It's more conveniently powered by my computer, connected by the attached-to-unit USB. This is definitely enough to run my items. And who wants one more unnecessary plug? Not I! :)
Sounds seem a bit more distorted than the last (due probably to being somewhat louder with the same version speaker), and the sound loop ends sooner. The shorter loop is probably a plus for most people as the sound is only activated upon plugging a USB in. I was not bothered at all by either as there's a 'sound off' switch on the back.
The Cloister Lamp on top lights up in the same blue as the previous model, though the lamp housing has been changed slightly and the light is more realistically confined to below bell shaped top. The previous version seemed to glow from the sides and the top. That said, I believe the overall bulb brightness to be lessened compared to the last version. This is also a welcomed modification as the last model was actually quite bright!
Overall functionality is as perfect as expected in the updated version as it was in the previous.
***** 2. Usefulness
I use plug & play items multiple times daily, switching ad hoc between (and often times together with) a USB Headset for meetings, Wacom art tablet for work, and Android cell phone for personal use. Never an issue to be had. Physically handling the USB TARDIS is a cinch thanks to the shape and the ports being located on the bottom-sides... and with it having no hinged or opening parts it's a relatively lightweight and sturdy device. I genuinely love how easy it is to use in every way.
***** 3. Look / Aesthetic
Seeing the pictures of this on the internet, I was quite excited to upgrade my previous version to the new, if only to be current.
I was pretty disappointed after opening the product, taking a close look, and putting it side by side with the previous version. I've much to say on this, but for those in a hurry I'll summarize here by letting you know that this is 99% the same TARDIS as the previous version. If you're looking for amazing new upgrades, won't find them. The upgrades are as basic as you can imagine from looking at the pictures. Read on to hear the details!
The only outstanding physical differences are in the new blue color and the lamp shape up top (which is admittedly more accurate to this homage then the previous was to it's). The other changes necessary to recreate the new TARDIS are a bit lackluster. The white window frames are painted on (and I would like to note I was doubly upset to find that my particular product was missing the white window paint on the ~front~ of the unit---of all places!). The faux-glass area on the previous was white. On this they've replaces them with all black, its rather glossy and there's no frosted look on the bottom two windows. The "pull to Open" Door signage is still a rather cheap feeling white sticker, but I expected this after the previous being the same way. What's odd about that though, is that the St John's emblem seems to be painted on with the same process used for the window frames. Quite a detailed little piece to be painted (or possibly printed) on... and if they could do this with the St John's emblem... why not the door signage? Baffling.
St John's emblem looks amazing on this USB Hub, however, and apart from the redone lamp is probably my favorite of the additions here. The top signage (Police Public Call Box) is exactly the same stickering as in the last version. Nothing exciting there. There are absolutely ~no~ structural changes to this version whatsoever. Somewhat disappointing to a TARDIS enthusiast, as there are some visible differences between the real life props... but it's easily forgivable as this is probably meant to be a novelty item. What isn't quite as forgivable is the complete lack of woodgrain on the newly changed blue body. Even a little faux grain would have felt very nice on this unit.
While this product gave me rather up & down moments, I have to admit that I'm still pleased to have the updated version of the TARDIS as my USB Hub. I've rated this product with 3 stars only because of my poor luck in landing one with missing paint on the front windows, and due to the aesthetics having let me down quite a bit from what improvements I'd ~hoped~ that they would make. Like I said above, this is a useful novelty item that is reliable and fairly sturdy.
As a personal note... I'd love to see a high-end version of this hub created. I know a long line of people who would love to get their hands on one!