gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Plugable USB Type-C Mini Docking Station Reviewed

Many USB Type-C docking stations are fairly desk dominating but the mini USB-C docking station from Plugable- at around 9cm by 10cm and just over 3cm deep -is different. But its small size doesn’t mean it compromises on ports. With a typical array of HDMI, 3.5mm audio and Gigabit Ethernet, plus 4 USB 3.0 ports it has everything you need for a modest home single-cable docking setup.

In fact Plugable’s mini docking station might be the smallest that can still legitimately be called a docking station. It’s not portable multiport adaptor small- since it depends upon an external, 85W power supply to power both it and your laptop, but it is incredibly desk-friendly and ideal for a typical setup of mouse, keyboard and 1080p HDMI monitor.

The USB C mini docking station comes in a tidy little box in Plugable white, green and grey. Inside the dock itself is nestled in a cardboard insert, emblazoned with cute artwork and the accessories are tucked neatly underneath. Well I’m counting the power supply as an accessory, but also in the box is a VESA mount with holes for 50x50mm, 75x75mm and 100x100mm mount styles. This is great if you have a monitor with VESA mounting holes that aren’t already used by its stand but could just as easily be used to mount to the underside of your desk for a truly tidy setup.

Adorable 😀 @plugable

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) September 25, 2018

The supplied adaptor is 20v @ 5A for 100W of input power. This is enough to supply 85W to charge the most power-hungry of USB Type-C laptops albeit the remaining 15W is a little shy of the rule-of-thumb 5W-per-port I’d typically expect to reserve for USB. This 85W is close to the 100W maximum for USB Type-C, but if you’re a Dell Precision, Latitude or XPS user you may find the TB16’s proprietary ability to deliver 130W (albeit at an eye-watering twice the price of this dock) more suitable.

While the HDMI output is marked “4k”, like all USB Type-C multi-port docks of its class it can only output 4k@30Hz. If you’re looking to hook up a 4k, HDMI monitor you’re looking in the wrong place. However a single 1920×1080 or 2560×1440 display would make a great pairing.

The Gigabit Ethernet port will likely remain unused for many home users, but if you keep your wireless hub anywhere near your computer it’s worth hooking up. For office use, however, it will doubtlessly be indispensable. WiFi and crowded offices are not the best of bedfellows.

A lack of downstream USB Type-C port means you can’t daisy-chain this with – for example – a DisplayPort adaptor or any other USB Type-C accessories, but that’s not a dealbreaker for a dock of this.

Overall the Plugable USB Type-C mini dock is compact, competitively priced and excellent as the hub of an out-of-the-way single cable docking setup. The inclusion of a VESA mounting bracket makes it a great way to convert a compatible monitor (look for 100x100mm “Flat Panel Mount Interface” or similar in the spec) to USB Type-C. The supplied 100W adaptor and 85W charging capacity is generous for a dock of this class. Sadly missing from the mix is an SD card reader, but a small USB one could be used in the front port without too much hassle. You can grab Plugable’s USB Type-C mini dock for just over £130 on Amazon.

😀 I didn’t even recognise it until you made me take a closer look 😀 😀 – you folks are assuredly the real deal. @plugable

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) September 25, 2018

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018, Mini Computers, USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3.