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


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

JSAUX OmniCase Pro Review

You might be familiar with JSAUX for their dizzying range of SteamDeck accessories, but these are far from their only strength. Enter the OmniCase Pro which, despite its name, is actually a USB Type-C dock. But, wait, it’s also a case; and it’s filled with goodies.

OmniCase Pro is a fairly typical USB Type-C travel dock with an ingenious twist. So ingenious that it began life as a KickStarter campaign back in 2021. While it’s not the most compact, or the most aesthetically pleasing of its brethren it’s the only one I have encountered that doubles as a case and connectivity toolkit. It’s truly the travellist of travel docks.

Managed to snap some photos before returning to hospital- @jsauxofficial don’t just make Steam Deck docks. Here’s the USB C dock that Batman would use.

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) October 22, 2022

OmniCase Pro is hewn from black plastic, making it a standout among the mostly aluminium travel docks I’ve tested. It doesn’t feel at all cheap and there’s only the slightest amount of flex in the dock and lid.

The rather bulbous form of OmniCase Pro conceals a collection of common cables and converters inside a magnetically attached lid which closes snugly with a satisfying snap and takes a fairly vigorous shake to dislodge. It includes a USB Type-C to Type-C cable. Type-C to Lightning (for charging your iPhone), a USB Type-A (that’s the bigger, rectangular port) to Type-C converter and – the unsung hero – a USB Type-C to microB converter for charging headphones and other gadgets which haven’t quite got the Type-C memo yet.

Joining these are a little utility kit for the business mobile phone user on the go- there’s a sim tray eject tool reminiscent of those supplied with the iPhone (do they still come supplied? I suppose they must!) and a little slot to store a spare nano SIM. If you swap between SIM cards while travelling to avoid roaming charges *cough*cursed brexit*cough* then this safe place to keep the eject tool and your alternate SIM will no-doubt be extremely welcome.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to grok what this little slot was for in the @jsauxofficial OmniCase Pro. Y’know, the one right next to the sim eject tool? ?

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) November 16, 2022

The two cables are snaked tightly into dedicated positions and keep their shape when removed from the lid. This leaves them looking a little dishevelled and makes them quite uncooperative when in use, but that’s a reasonable price to pay for such neatly organised convenience. The USB Type-C to Type-A adapter in particular can be quite hard to dislodge from its clips, perhaps a better option than being prone to loss. If you err on the dark side you can use the SIM eject tool to lever it out. The SIM eject tool slides out… if you try to lever it up you’ll have a bad day. Both of the adapters are slightly better quality ones I’ve bought elsewhere- they’re made from matching black plastic and are not prone to pulling apart.

And that leads us onto the dock side of the OmniCase. The connectivity features are as comprehensive as the supplied accessories, with a full-sized and microSD card slot, a Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 (5Gbps) Type-A ports, and an HDMI port.

HDMI is limited to 4k @ 60Hz, which is an unfortunate side-effect of having USB 3.0 ports included in the dock. There’s only so much USB Type-C bandwidth to go around and 4k @ 60Hz video uses half of it. Docks will sometimes drop USB 3.0/3.1 support in lieu of using all the available bandwidth for HDMI. I’ve even seen one with a switch to pick your priority! Since USB Type-C carries two slower USB 2.0 connections in addition to the high speed ones they can be used as a workaround. JSAUX have made the choice for USB 3.0 up front, and in my humble opinion it’s the right choice for a business centric travel dock. Those fast, 5Gbps USB ports can be extremely useful for backup drives and 30Hz – don’t hurt me, please! – is fine for periodic business use.

Topping off the list of ports are the upstream and downstream USB Type-C connectors. The OmniCase Pro – thankfully – does not have a captive USB Type-C cable so you can stow it quite neatly, swap out with your own cable, replace it if it gets damaged and so on. As is more or less the standard the input port (for the connection to your computer) is on the short edge of the dock and the power connection (for your computer’s USB Type-C power supply, if you’re powering/charging through the dock) is neatly on the back with the more permanent HDMI and Ethernet ports. At the front are the two USB 3.0 ports and the SD card slots.

The chunky but feature packed @jsauxofficial OmniCase Pro doing 4K @ 30Hz through my charge cable ?

It’s 30Hz because the dock has two USB 3.0 5Gbps ports taking up one of the USB Type-C lanes (or is it two? I forget) that would be required for higher video throughput.

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) November 16, 2022

I tested the OmniCase Pro with my StarLite MK IV and was somewhat unsurprised to find I couldn’t – for love nor money – charge my laptop through the dock. The Lite can be finicky with USB Type-C docks, and this one proved to be one of them. While charging didn’t work, everything else did. If I were to use a barrel jack connector in lieu of a USB Type-C charger then it would actually pair quite nicely. The black plastic of the OmniCase Pro and the black anodised body of the Lite match quite well.

Since charging was a miserable failure on the Lite, I grabbed D’s 2016 MacBook Pro to check I wasn’t using dodgy cables or doing something silly. The MacBook fared much better, charging through the OmniCase Pro with no trouble at all.

After much fun and games and remembering that the @starlabsltd Lite can be a bit finicky with USB C hubs and docks sometimes… (is anything not?) I tried a MacBook and it’s a go go!

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) November 16, 2022

Overall the OmniCase Pro is a unique and clever little dock that – while a little bulky – manages to store enough useful cables and adapters to keep your laptop connected and your devices charged on the go. It’s rounded off with a little velcro-sealed (sorry, hook and loop), leatherette travel pouch that keeps the dock protected in your bag and safe from accidental lid departures.

Wednesday, November 16th, 2022, USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3.