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I just got my Kinect this week and the instructions are adamant that the Kinect has to be plugged into the USB ports on the BACK of the device. It included a cable so I could re-route my wireless network device to the USB port on the front to free up the port.

Does anyone here know what the difference between the back and front USB ports are on an Xbox 360, and why the Kinect can't be plugged into one of the ports on the front?

Also, is it possible to use a cheap USB hub to have the network card AND the Kinect plugged into the back of the XBox so I don't have an ugly cable wrapping around to the front and using up one of the controller ports?

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My initial thought was power, but you can charge the wireless controllers with the ports at the front. Maybe the front ports are 1.1 but the rear ones are 2.0. –  ChrisF Nov 15 '10 at 21:30
    
That was my first thought too, but the Kinect has its own power supply, so why would it need a powered USB connection? –  JohnFx Nov 15 '10 at 21:41
    
Well that knocks that theory on its head then. –  ChrisF Nov 15 '10 at 21:55

4 Answers 4

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The front USB ports are most likely split like a mini-hub. The Kinect doesn't seem to work with USB hubs either, most likely it needs the full speed of the USB connection to work and can't share with other devices.

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In Major Nelson's podcast #376, e (Eric) actually talks about the USB ports in the Xbox 101 section (about 43 minutes in). In talking about hooking up the Kinect to an older (non-s) 360, he says it has to be in the one on the back. The reason being, the USB port on the back is on a dedicated bus which doesn't share bandwidth with anything else on the system. The ones on the front are shared on a bus with other items.

I don't know if this same case applies to the ports on the 360-S, but there you have it, the one on the back is on it's own dedicated bus, the ones on the front are not.

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On the 360s you don't use a USB connection. It uses another type of cable (or so I've heard). I wonder if the issue is that the front usb ports are just slower due to not having that direct connection. I'll have to experiment with that. –  JohnFx Nov 16 '10 at 2:00
    
Correct, the Kinect has it's own special connector on the back of the 360s which is based on USB but has extra power, they were only referring to the original 360. They do specifically say that the front connections can't handle the needs of the Kinect on the original 360. –  Doozer Blake Nov 16 '10 at 2:15
    
Why would Kinect need extra power? It has it's own power cord and brick? –  JohnFx Nov 16 '10 at 20:49
    
The 360-S has a special connector that is USB-based, but has more power than your typical USB connector which isn't enough to power the Kinect, that's what I was referring too. That Kinect does NOT have to have another power cord and brick. A Kinect connected to the original 360 has to have it's own power cord and brick because the regular USB connectors can't power it alone. –  Doozer Blake Nov 16 '10 at 23:51
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It's not just the power, it's the amount of data throughput that it needs is why it has to be on the back one. As they explain it in the podcast and in my answer it says that the USB port on back is on it's own bus which means it handles the amount of data much better, maybe I wasn't clear enough. –  Doozer Blake Nov 17 '10 at 18:58

I bought a Kinect to connect to my old xbox 360. I connected it in the front and have been enjoying it for the last 3 weeks with no problems that I can tell. I read the instructions and I wasn't sure as to why I had to connect to the back, and I still am curious if there is any added bonus. All that aside it seems to work just fine connected in the front.

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Well the two things that a usb cable carries are data and power. Power is mesured in milli Amperes (usually) and data is mesured in megabits per seconds (mbps).

In the vast majority of computers (lets assume that the xbox360 is a pc wrapped with custom plastic, because it is) front usb does not have the same milliamps output as the back so this is the usual reason why some devices can't connect to the front usb ports.

I would also guess that the datarate is quite high, so dedicated ports would be quite handy in that case

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