A Brief Guide to Buying the Head of All Dongles: The USB Hub

The technology hardware and equipment industry market the slimness of their product every year. They show off how the computer still manages to be thin without heating up, and how it is much more portable because of its size. But slim laptops have to make compromises. Sometimes they compromise on processor power, sometimes on the cooling mechanism, and for the last three years, they have been compromising on ports.

The slimmer the side after all, the more difficult it is to place ports. The reason for the compromise is obvious but not always justified. Manufacturers have been able to take this step because of the USB C port, which is the port to kill all ports; as we like to call it.

But in the rush to switch laptops to just USB C, a new necessary gadget has come out. The USB hub. Charging capacities of laptops have increased, so, on a light day, you can choose to leave your charging cable at home. But in place of that, you have to carry around a small hub to plug in anything you need.

The perfect USB hub:

  • Is small
  • Has a decent built quality
  • Boasts of all your basic ports
  • Is USB C power pass-through
  • Has sturdy design

Small, because it is one more thing to carry around, so you want something that can easily fit in all of your laptop bags, on desks as well as plane desks if required.

Build quality of a gadget like this is important because it should last you for more than one laptop’s duration, and you will toss it around a bunch, as it has to go where your laptop goes.

As far as ports go, they might want you to think that the USB C port is the only basic port you need but that’s definitely not true. You need USB A ports, HDMI, an Ethernet port and an SD card slot. These you require because the peripherals that you have to attach to a laptop have not all adopted USB C yet. And the quickest way to transfer images, for example, is through something like an SD card. The lack of multiple ports on a laptop makes it highly inconvenient to collaborate with others too.

USB C power pass-through is necessary so that you can charge your laptop while using all those ports. You know, just like a normal laptop with ports functions! The future may be wireless but we are paying the price for it.

The design of this tiny device can make or break how easy it is to use. If the ports are placed too closely together, it makes it difficult to plug more things in. If the ports are too far apart, it will take up too much space. It is, after all, a gadget that goes with your laptop, so you want the design of it to complement it.

To narrow down on certain specifics to help you make your decision, here are a few more tips:

  • The USB C power pass-through port might be able to pass only up to a certain level of power. So, even if your computer can charge fast and your USB cable can handle that speed, the USB hub may throttle some of that. That’s okay, but you should be aware of the caveats of the product you are buying.
  • The HDMI port can support 4K but it might be at 30Hz, not 60Hz, which can change the output you were expecting.
  • The USB cable that connects the hub to the computer should be short rather than long because otherwise it would dangle off the desk and would easily snap off. This can be cumbersome if you are in the middle of doing, well, anything.
  • You can pick a hub that doesn’t have an Ethernet port if you are in a pinch.
  • At the same time, you should not compromise on SD card and micro SD card slots. It is the quickest way to transfer media files to your laptop.

This guideline should help you navigate the almost wireless world that laptop manufacturers are pretending their devices are ready for. But until the future is actually here, SF Cable has the USB hub you will definitely need. We have it in varying configurations so you can pick the one that suits you the best.