As we transition from using USB-A to the USB-C standard, there will always be this period where you are still using a few USB-A devices that require a connection to your shiny new USB-C desktop, laptop, or even the latest 2018 iPad Pro.
If you have purchased a new Apple MacBook over the last few years, you may be looking for such a hub that allows you to connect older devices and peripherals to your USB-C only Apple laptop. The Anker 5-in-1 Premium USB-C Hub is such a device that features a number of ports that will allow you to connect your Apple MacBook or USB-C device to a variety of devices and peripherals.
The 5-in-1 in the name means you can connect the Anker hub, with its 5 ports, to a single USB-C port. It’s variety of inputs and outputs include an HDMI port that will allow you to connect to a 4K HDTV or display. You can also connect up to 3 USB-A devices to its 3 USB 3.0 ports. And finally you can skip Wi-Fi and connect your MacBook to the internet or a local network via its 1Gbps Ethernet port – handy for anyone without an ethernet port on their MacBook.
All of this functionality comes in a neat and tidy formfactor of just 10.4 x 0.9 x 0.7 inches, whilst weighing at a travel-friendly 52g/1.8oz. It’s space grey casing perfectly matches the aesthetic of Apple’s own MacBook laptops and looks every inch the part of an official product.
Connecting the Anker hub to my 2018 Apple MacBook Pro gives a reassuring physical click as it enters any of the USB-C ports on the side. Tugging on the USB-C cable doesn’t easily loosen or remove the hub’s cable; so it’s safe to say that anything connected to the hub will stay connected until you physically remove the hub from the USB-C port or disconnect any device from the hub’s ports.
At approximately 6-inches or 15cm long, its cable is a good enough length from the hub to not feel restricted when connecting devices or peripherals to it, whilst it is not too long that it feels like its flapping about when it’s connected.
Having the ethernet port on the very end of the Anker 5-in-1 hub makes it look more like an extension to the ethernet cable rather than looking like a hub. Whilst on the topic of the ethernet port, it is unfortunate that there is no data up/down lights on the hub itself. But this oversight does add to this device’s general minimalist aesthetic.
It’s full size HDMI port allows you to connect your MacBook to an HDTV or a display monitor with an output resolution up to 4K. Both sound and audio can be passed through the HDMI port on the hub, allowing you to watch the latest blockbuster movies on a bigger screen, use it on a display monitor that’s bigger than the laptop display, or in the office you can connect it to a projector for meetings or conferences.
Overall, the Anker 5-in-1 hub is a great travel companion for anyone that wants to connect to their older technology whilst be on the move. The hub, however, is not tech that I would want to be using on a daily basis if you’re limited to one single USB-C port, because of one major missing feature – USB-C power delivery passthrough.
This might not be as much of an issue for anyone that has a laptop that has more than one USB-C port, that they can continue to charge from. However, if your ports are limited to one, or you are trying this out on the latest 11” iPad Pro and 12.9” iPad Pro with its USB-C port, you’ll have to choose between using the hub and the devices connected to it, or actually powering/charging the device itself.
Charging limitations aside, the Anker 5-in-1 hub is a perfect companion for extending the life of older devices and connecting to new ones. It’s variety of ports lets you connect to older USB drives or Hard Disk Drives, display content to an HDTV or the latest 4K display via HDMI, or connect to a stable hard-wired network connection over ethernet. For just $59.99 from Amazon, either of these uses can be enjoyed from this single, tiny, sleek-looking hub. Well done Anker!