Got a new USB-C device? 19 accessories that will help

If you have a drawer full of micro-USB accessories and a new USB Type-C laptop, tablet or phone, these add-ons will help keep you connected.

1 intro title

The new USB-C connection

There's a new USB in town -- the Type-C port. Smaller than the familiar USB Type-A, the USB-C plug uses the latest USB 3.1 specification, which means it's not only faster but reversible, eliminating the frustration of trying to insert a USB plug upside-down. Able to carry up to 100 watts of power (six times the USB 3.0 limit), a USB-C port can deliver up to 10Gbps -- double that of current USB 3.0 devices.

Although USB-C has been on its way for some time, there haven't been a lot of devices that use it -- until recently. Apple's 12-inch MacBook started the trend last year and was followed by other laptops (such as Lenovo's Yoga 900 and Dell's Latitude 12 7000), tablets (Asus's ZenPad S8 and Google's Pixel C) and smartphones (Google's Nexus 5X and 6P). And that's only the beginning.

The problem: All those micro-USB and mini-USB hubs, cables, chargers and adapters that you've collected over the last several years can't plug into your new USB-C port.

But don't despair. There are already a variety of USB-C accessories available, including adapters for your older equipment. So if you're using a USB-C device, here are some gadgets to help you use it.

2 hubs new


When you use a variety of USB-powered devices, a hub -- which plugs into a single USB port and lets you connect it to three or more devices -- is essential equipment. If you need to connect a bunch of older USB devices to a laptop that uses USB-C, try one of these small, lightweight hubs from Kensington and Macally. Neither needs an AC adapter (many hubs do), and both hubs top out at 5Gbps (rather than USB-C's maximum of 10Gbps).

The Macally has four USB 3.0 ports and matches the MacBook's brushed aluminum look, while the black plastic Kensington CH1000 provides three USB 3.0 ports along with a USB-C pass-through port for your newer accessories.

Macally USB Type C to 4 Port USB-A Aluminum Hub
Price: $30 (vendor price); $30 (Amazon price)

Kensington CH1000 USB-C 4-Port Hub
Price: $40 (vendor price); $40 (Amazon price)

3 docking stations

Docking stations

Docking stations make working with laptops a lot easier: When you get back to the office, just plug your laptop into the dock and you are immediately connected to your large display, full-sized keyboard and any other peripherals you use.

The Minix Neo-C USB-C Multiport Adapter provides a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a Type-C port along with a Gigabit Ethernet connection and readers for micro-SD and full-size SD cards. You can buy one of two models: one that offers VGA output up to 1080p or one that provides 4K HDMI resolution.

By contrast, the HydraDock is 4K-capable and has both HDMI and mini-DisplayPort jacks. It can sit under the back of a notebook, tilting it comfortably forward and delivers four USB 3.0 and two USB-C ports in addition to an SD card slot, gigabit Ethernet and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Minix Neo-C USB-C Multiport Adapter
Price: $90 (Amazon price)

Price: $169 pre-order; $229 after March 15 (vendor price)

4 adapters new


If you have a bunch of old-style USB cables, don't throw them out yet -- adapt them. You may not get the speed boost that you'd get with a USB-C cable, but at least you'll have an extra cable handy when you need one.

Kensington's CA1000 USB-C to USB-A Adapter has a three-inch cable between its USB-C and USB-A plugs; it supports charging up to 3 amps and you can transfer data at speeds up to 5Gbps.

Meenova's more minimalist USB Type-C to USB 3.0 Type-A Female Adapter also supports USB 3.0 high-speed data transfer of 5Gbps and comes in gold, silver or gray.

Kensington CA1000 USB-C to USB-A Adapter
Price: $13 (vendor price); $15 (Amazon price)

Meenova USB Type-C to USB Type-A Female Adapter
Price: $8 (vendor price); $9 (Amazon price)

5 cables


Of course, if you're committed to the USB-C format -- and want to take advantage of the advantages of the format -- you may want to just forget your legacy cables and simply stock up on new cables.

Two three-foot cables that support USB 3.1 SuperSpeed+ are the Monoprice USB 3.1 USB-C Male to USB-C Male, which claims data transfer speeds up to 10Gbps, and the Scosche StrikeLine USB-C 5Gbps charge and sync cable.

Monoprice USB 3.1 USB-C Male to USB-C Male Cable
$25 (vendor price); $27 (Amazon price)

Scosche StrikeLine USB-C
Price: $30 (vendor price)

6 thumb drives

Thumb drives

So what do you do if you want to use a thumb drive, but have both USB-C and USB-A computers? You use one of these drives from SanDisk and Emtec, which have a different plug on each end so they can fit into either type of port.

At 1.0 x 0.6 x 0.3 in., the Emtec Duo USB-C is the smaller of the two; you simply slide the case to reveal the port you want to plug in. By contrast, the 1.7 x 0.7 x 0.5-in. SanDisk Dual USB Drive Type-C has a rotating plastic case that covers the port that's not being used.

Emtec Duo USB-C
Price: 32GB: $20 (Amazon price), 64GB: $30 (Amazon price)

SanDisk Dual USB Drive Type-C
Price: 32GB: $24 (Amazon price)

7 external drives

External drives

LaCie's Porsche Design Desktop Drive is not only a reliable place to stash your digital life, but it will look good on your desk. The sleek sandblasted aluminum case includes a USB-C cable and a second adapter cable for USB 3.0 devices. While it requires an external AC adapter to power it, the pay-off is that the Porsche drive can charge your notebook, phone or tablet while it's connected.

The drive can deliver speeds up to 5Gbps in USB-C mode and will come in 4TB, 5TB and 8TB versions when it ships in late March.

LaCie Porsche Design Desktop Drive
Price: 4TB: $210 list; prices for 5TB and 8TB models to follow

8 displays


Sometimes it's nice to have more than one display -- but it may be hard to find one that's USB-C friendly. Try the Asus MB169C+ portable USB display, which is probably the first mobile display on the market to receive both power and video via a USB-C port. Weighing only 1.7 lb., the monitor's 15.6-in. Full HD screen offers 1920 x 1080 resolution. It is bundled with a protective sleeve that doubles as an adjustable stand; it will be available sometime in March for $199.

Asus MB169C+
List price: $199 list (shipping later in March)

9 display adapters

Display adapters

Want to connect your shiny new USB-C tablet, phone or notebook to your current display? You can with a USB-C video converter.

Take, for example, Belkin's USB-C to VGA Adapter, which plugs into a USB-C port on your system and can handle up to 1920 x 1080 resolution; Belkin is working on a 4K HDMI version.

Google's USB Type-C to HDMI Adapter and Accell's USB-C to HDMI 1.4 Adapter can each deliver up to 4K resolution output right now.

Belkin USB-C to VGA Adapter
Price: $40 (vendor price); $20 (Amazon price)

Google USB Type-C to HDMI Adapter
Price: $40 (vendor price)

Accell USB-C to HDMI 1.4 Adapter
Price: $35 (vendor price); $30 (Amazon price)

10 internal computer adapters new

Internal computer adapters

Why should phones, notebooks and tablets have all the USB-C fun? The next generation of desktop motherboards will have built-in USB-C ports, but older ones can upgrade to USB-C with Asus's USB 3.1 Type-C Card.

One of the first PCI Express desktop adapters with a USB-C port, the card works with most recent motherboards that have an x4, x8 or x16 PCI slot; it can move data at speeds up to 10Gbps, according to Asus. It measures 2.9 x 3.1 in. so it won't crowd out your system's monster graphics card.

Asus USB 3.1 Type-C Card
Price: $43 (Amazon price)

11 car adapter

Car adapters

If you treat your car as an office on wheels, Nomad's Roadtrip charger/battery can make sure everything is charged and ready. The device fits into a vehicle's cigarette lighter outlet and has both a USB-C and a traditional USB 3.0 Type-A port. It also has its own 3,000mAh battery, so you can unplug it and take it with you, and it will deliver up to 1.5 amps for each device.

Nomad Roadtrip
Price: $50 (vendor price); $50 (Amazon price)

12 backup batteries new

Backup batteries

When your phone, tablet or laptop runs out of power, you need a backup battery -- unfortunately, most of today's battery packs come with micro-USB ports.

With Anker's PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C charger and backup battery, you can keep working and playing. The 1-lb. device can dole out 2.4 amps through each of its two USB-C and single USB 3.0 connections. Inside, PowerCore+ has a 20.1 amp-hour lithium battery that, with Anker's PowerIQ current-stabilizing technology, can power three separate devices with no dangerous power spikes. The battery pack comes with both a micro-USB and a USB-C cable.

Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C charger
Price: $60 (Amazon price)

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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