Silex Technologies Serves While You Save

Business is growing &#151 you’ve added four new hires, and they all need USB printers and scanners to get the work done. Before you go shopping and spend money on redundant equipment, take a look at Silex Technologies’ Pr&#237com SX-5000U2, a USB 2.0 device server that lets up to nine people access the same USB equipment over the office network.

Here’s how it used to work. An employee could have a USB printer, scanner and external storage device plugged into the back of his or her computer. The advent of USB hubs let you plug in all these devices to a single box, and then plug that box into the desktop with a single cord. It cleaned up the tangled cords, but it still meant that only one person could access that USB device

The Pr&#237com is more than a hub. Plug the USB devices into it, but instead of connecting the SX-5000U2 to a desktop computer plug it into the office network. Now everyone can access the same machines.

Capability and Features
The SX-5000U2 accommodates up to four USB devices, but adding a USB hub expands its capability to nine &#151 not just printers but a range of other USB devices &#151 storage drives, digital cameras, scanners, any USB device. The system operates on the latest Internet standard, IPv6, and offers security by limiting access to users with approved IP addresses.

The server can retrieve e-mail for up to four designated e-mail addresses from the user’s e-mail server and then print the e-mail automatically without any PC &#151 handy if you need to keep hardcopies. The SX-5000U2 can print out all e-mails, or can apply user-defined keyword filters to specify the e-mails to be printed.

Why Should I Buy It?

A subsidiary of the Japanese firm Silex Technology, Inc., Silex Technology America comes with a respected pedigree. The parent company has a 30-year track record of providing embedded print connectivity products and technologies, including 10 years in the realm of print server products.

Still, the SX-5000U2 already faces competition in the market. Richmond, Calif.-based Kayspan offers its USB server product for $130 as compared to Silex’s $229 suggested price. There are drawbacks, however. Unlike the Silex Pr&#237com, Keyspan doesn’t support a USB storage device, though Keyspan has said the device will support a wider range of devices in the near future. Further, Keyspan does not yet support USB 2.0, the newer and faster USB standard already supported by Silex.

But Wait, There’s More

Silex Pr&#237com SX-5000U2

Connect up to nine USB devices and share them across one network with the Silex Pr&#237com SX-5000U2.

The Silex Pr&#237com device server comes as part of a broad product-release effort by the company.

The firm also offers two new print servers. The typical distinction between a print server and a device server is that the device server ability to support a variety of hardware in addition to printers. The SX-300U provides multiple-user printer sharing with faster connectivity that prior models, with a suggested price of $99. The H-260 is an internal device for EIO HP printers that includes a convenient USB port to connect an additional printer to the network at no added cost. This one retails for about $299.

Silex also has introduced a wireless product, the SX-3700WB that lets multiple users connect wirelessly to a single print device ($179). The company says it hopes to launch a wireless version of its multi-device product in the near future.

What does it all mean to the small- and mid-sized business owner? Clearly, the improvements come on a couple of fronts. As we suggested earlier, you save money upfront: The more devices employees can share, the fewer devices you need to purchase.

In addition, sharing a USB storage device can boost productivity &#151 employees can access photos, documents and other files without leaving their desks.

Considering the price point, an office that needs shared printer access would do well to step up to a USB device server and expand its connectivity options. Even if shared printers are all you need today, you can easily expand to scanners and hard drives tomorrow as your business grows. Better to spend a little extra now than to find yourself replacing a print server a few months down the road.

Adam Stone writes extensively on business and technology issues. He makes his virtual residence at and his physical home in Annapolis, Md.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the Forums. Join the discussion today!

Must Read

Get the Free Newsletter!

Subscribe to Daily Tech Insider for top news, trends, and analysis.