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This review is part of the 1 Pound Challenge - can you find a decent gadget in a pound shop?

One thing I have noticed during my pound shop visits is the vast number of USB hubs that are available – however, as I learnt with an earlier review these are so cheap because they’re USB 1. So, on a recent visit to Poundland I was surprised to find a hub labelled as USB 2. Naturally, I bought it.

The Signalex 4 Port USB Hub is a few inches long and is a made of a light grey plastic. The side with ports on is flat but the remainder is curved. It can therefore only sit on its side and isn’t brilliantly attractive. At one end is a green light which comes when it’s plugged in. It connects to your PC via a captive cable.

Unfortunately, and I don’t know if it was any issue with the one that I had, when a USB device is plugged into some of the ports (and only 2 are affected) the light goes out. Short circuit, maybe?

However, there was a much more serious problem with it. It’s not USB 2.

What made me think it was? The sticker in the top corner which shows the “Certified USB” logo and the number 2.0 just above it (click on the image to the right and you can see it). However, peel this label off and things become even more confusing. Underneath is the same logo and 2.0 number but the logo also contains the words “High Speed”.

Looking at the official USB site I can see that if the USB logo lacks the words “High Speed” then it’s USB 1. Only USB 2 is “High Speed”. So, they’ve attempted to cover this over by dropping the “High Speed” part of the logo. However, they’ve kept the rather tell-tale “2.0” above it. It’s not official but definitely tells people that it’s 2.0.

As this is a blatant case of deception I informed Trading Standards (or rather Consumer Direct, which is who you contact now). Unfortunately they were only interested in getting me to write to the retailer to get my money back. At a pound I have no interest in going to this effort – what I do want is blatant mis-selling to be stopped. I did, however, contact Poundland to tell them of this and their response was…

I have informed our Quality Assurance team of the issue and they will check further stocks.

This, to me, suggests that they think I have a one-off. However, the sticker would indicate this isn’t the case and that they’ve attempted to cover up the issue across their stock. Interestingly, this product does not feature on their website.

I did tell them this and, weeks later, I’ve heard nothing further from them.

[review]Poor quality, a possible fault with the circuitry causing the LED to go out in some cases and the fact that they are selling this as USB 2 when it’s not means that I can’t recommend this in any way.[/review]