My main Mac is a 2016 MacBook Pro, which is not ideal. The problem is not really the portability itself, it is that my needs have changed. You see, in 2016 I was commuting to downtown Chicago every day, and I wanted a Mac laptop to work in Xcode and other tasks along the way.
Now I'm working from home and the MacBook Pro is in clamshell mode most of the time. It's convenient to bring your MacBook with me when I need it, but it's far less frequent than it used to be. Instead, driving my Mac a 27 "LG 4K display, connected to Ethernet, speakers, a Luna Display dongle, my podcasting microphone and various other peripherals I need from time to time.
The problem with the installation is that I ran fast out of USB-C ports, although MacBook Pro has 4. I have tried several different configurations to streamline my setup, but no one was quite right now, though, I've finally found a solution that comes closest to meeting my needs And having the added benefit of working well with iPad Pro HyperDrive Slim 8-in-1
- 1 USB-C port with power supply, but not Thunderbolt-compatible
- 2 USB-A 3.1 ports with 5Gbps throughput
- an Ethernet jack
- miniDisplayPort (4K at 30Hz)
- ] HDMI (4K at 30Hz)
- An SD card track
- A microSD card slot
The specifications are favorable compared to the OWC Travel Dock that Federico reviewed in December with the addition of Ethernet, a second USB-A port, miniDisplayPort and a microSD slot.
I chose the 8-in-1 model because it is so small. HyperDrive also offers an 11-in-1 model that adds a different USB-A port, a 3.5-mm audio jack and VGA video, but is significantly larger than 8-in-1, which looks like that it is primarily powered by VGA port, which I do not need. I would love the sound of running speakers and another USB-A port would be nice, but in balance I am glad I picked the slimmer model.
The design of the 8-in-1 is nice but suffers a bit aesthetically from the off-center black plastic place you can see in the overhead photos I took. The black square is a small plastic door that pops up on a hinge to provide access to the Ethernet connector. It's a snug fit, which makes the cable a little tougher than I want, and I wonder how long the little door is, but it's a compromise to keep the dongle thinner than it would otherwise be, so I can live with it.
Otherwise, most of the aluminum body feels 8-in-1 solid and durable. I've only used it for a few weeks, but that's not the kind of thing I think twice about throwing at the bottom of a bag of other items. I also appreciate the subtle blue light that shines through a corner of the black plastic side of the 8-in-1 where the USB-C cable comes out of the body of the device. It's an effective way to see that your Mac delivers power to the 8-in-1, which many similar hubs don't.
The Slim 8-in-1 restrictions are worth remembering. Both video ports are limited to 4K at 30Hz, and they cannot be used to expand the Mac screen. If you connect two monitors to 8-in-1, the displays show each other. In addition, USB-A ports are version 3.1 Gen 1 ports, so they support 5 Gbps throughput as opposed to 10 Gbps available with Gen 2. Also the USB-C port only provides power and does not support Thunderbolt devices. According to HyperDrive, if you use the 8-in-1 with a 87W Apple charger, it delivers 60W to a MacBook Pro, and a 61W Apple charger delivers 49W to a MacBook Pro.
The 8-in-1 wire is shorter than I want. I used to keep the MacBook Pro sitting on a twelve South HiRise. But even at the modest height, 8-in-1 doubles in the middle of the air, which cannot sit flat on the desk. I dropped the Hi-Rise realize that I didn't need it because I didn't open my Mac very often when connected to my monitor, but the length of the cord is limiting. It's so short that it's barely flat when connected to a 12.9-inch iPad Pro when in a Smart Keyboard Folio case. When the 8-in-1 is used with an iPad in a tripod that the one I'm using is made by Viozon, it just dangles to the side.
Despite some limitations and quirks though, I've been happy with 8-in-1 daily use. The Ethernet port delivers the promised speed, the USB-C port provides enough power to run everything I add and keep the MacBook Pro fully charged, and photos and video transfers quickly from the SD and microSD slots. The setup also allows me to easily disconnect my MacBook and switch to iPad Pro using it with my large screen and fast Ethernet connection while it is charging.
Before HyperDrive 8-in-1, I used a USB-C dongle of Anchor that only contained an Ethernet and two USB-A ports. It was cheap and worked well, but its functionality was much more limited, it had about the same footprint as 8-in-1, and it was significantly thicker. I've also tried HyperDrive's Qi charger and USB-C hub and didn't like it. It feels less solidly built, is great, and the Qi charging power varies depending on what is connected to the hub which results in slower 5W charging much of the time.
In contrast, the 8-in-1 adapter fits better with my current setup. If the only port I don't expect to spend is one of the video ports, but I've been able to move charging, Ethernet, video, and USB-A to a single USB-C port, and leave the others open for USB-C external storage and my Luna Display. My setup is pretty typical, so I expect 8-in-1 to work for many MacStories readers, but it's important to consider the circumstances you use before committing to a USB-C hub. If you do many presentations and need a VGA contact every now and then, consider 11-in-1. Alternatively, if you have fewer gadgets hanging from your Mac than I do, you might be able to get away with an even slimmer hub that costs less.
No matter what combination of connections you need, if you plan to use a HyperDrive hub with a Mac and an iPad Pro, I recommend one of the hubs containing a short USB-C cable. It's not elegant to get it from the iPad, but it's the easiest way to move between a Mac and iPad Pro, which will make it more useful to you in the long run than a flush-facing hub of Mac or iPad and either works with just one of these devices or uncomfortable with both.
HyperDrive Slim 8-in-1 is available directly from HyperDrive for $ 99.99 and Amazon for $ 98.99.