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Reviews

Anker USB-C Dock

anker-hub-2

The right combo of ports, but a usb power problem for drivers

anker-hub-2

The Anker hub has built-in pass-through power over USB-C, HDMI support up to the 4K resolution supported by a 12-inch MacBook (via
DisplayPort 1.2/HDMI 1.4b), and two USB 3.0 Type-A ports. With a longer cord than Apple’s similar adapter, a brushed aluminum styling, and a better placement of ports, the Anker is my top choice for a portable hub to support an external monitor. (If you’re also, or instead, looking to use external drives routinely, pay special attention to the end of this review.)

These compact hubs have full-fledged computers in them to handle all this conversion, but their job should be to not get in the way of data transfer. In testing, the Anker hub did just fine. With an external USB 3.0 drive (a bus-powered WD My Passport Ultra HDD 2TB), I got 90MBps read and write rates through the hub’s USB 3.0 Type-A ports, just as fast as using Apple’s USB-C to Type-A adapter for a more direct connection. HDMI output worked as expected as well, providing a solid, stable signal.

One odd note, however: I wasn’t able to get the MacBook to recognize drives plugged into the Type-A ports initially; I had to reboot the Mac, at which point I had no further problems. That makes it seem like more of an OS X oddity than related to the dock, which requires no hardware drivers to work correctly.

The Anker measures 4.7 x 1.6 x 0.4 inches, and I particularly like that the USB-C port for pass-through power is at the end of the longest dimension. Coupled with a 6-inch integral cord to plug into your MacBook, this gives you a lot more flexibility in placement. It’s just 2.4 ounces, making it a slight addition to your satchel or travel bag.

Anker is admirably frank about the hub’s limitations, but, oddly, these limitations do not appear on its site nor in the product’s manual, but rather on the Amazon page for the product. (Anker sells and ships its products via Amazon fulfillment.) These disclosures are far more extensive than any I’ve seen from other pass through power docks. For instance, the dongles for wireless keyboards that use 2.4GHz unlicensed spectrum (whether Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or proprietary) might not work, and Apple’s SuperDrive can’t be used.

anker-hub-1

I can’t recommend the Anker as wholeheartedly as I’d like, because drive unmounting can result in lost data or drive issues, as well as being frustrating and a hassle. If you plan to attach unpowered drives routinely to a dock, this isn’t the right solution except in limited cases, potentially with just a single, non–Western Digital drive attached at a time.

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