Satechi’s new Type-C USB Hub announced in October at first glance looks like the perfect solution for using single-port Retina MacBooks with wired accessories and SD cards. It adds three traditional USB 3.0 ports like MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros so you can plug in flash drives, Lightning cables, and most other USB accessories. It also reads SD cards and Micro SD Cards, just not at the same time. And the sleek hub is offered in Mac-matching colors that look almost official…
Satechi’s Type-C USB Hub doesn’t completely solve the single-port limitation of Retina MacBooks however. When Satechi announced Type-C USB Hub a few weeks ago, I mentioned that as a daily MacBook user, the lack of a USB-C port for power passthrough could potentially be an issue. In testing, that was indeed the case and no adapter would pass power off to the MacBook.
It works great for quick tasks especially when your MacBook is properly charged, but don’t expect to use Type-C USB Hub for several hours without monitoring your Mac’s battery. Apple’s pricey USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter adds a single USB 3.0 port and HDMI with USB-C passthrough for power, but for $79.
A rather trivial issue that caught my attention is that Type-C USB Hub slants down unevenly from the back toward the front to match the wedge shape of the MacBook (see top photo). It doesn’t change how it works and you don’t notice when you’re using your MacBook, but the hub is big enough that it looks a little odd up close. Otherwise the hub looks and feels quite nice with it’s almost-official look. The top side’s clean with nothing but an LED status indicator interrupting the surface.
Since USB-C is reversible like Lightning ports, you can connect Type-C USB Hub facing outward like an antenna or inward like an extension. Satechi branding is visible when facing outward, but connecting USB cables feels more stable and SD cards face up. When connected with the LED status indicator light visible, which seems like the correct way, connecting and disconnecting USB cables tends to rock the USB-C connection loose as well. If you’re in the middle of a photo import and transferring data over another USB port, you’ll want to keep this in mind. There’s also what feels like two levels of clicks to securely connect the hub, although the first level dimly lights the LED.
Execution issues aside, Satechi’s Type-C USB Hub does work just as advertised. I connected and charged an iPhone 6s, iPad Pro, and Magic Keyboard with Lightning cables through Type-C USB Hub, which is one more than the MacBook Air I owned before my MacBook could do. That’s also more connections than I’ll likely ever need with my MacBook. Just don’t expect to be able to use USB accessories like Apple’s SuperDrive, which demands more power.
The SD Card slot is perhaps the most useful part of the hub for me as I’m able to snap photos on my Nikon camera and easily import them to my MacBook. Having that ability in a sleek hub that also has three USB 3 ports means I’m more likely to have it handy when I need it. I would gladly trade the third USB 3.0 port for a USB-C port with power pass through though.
If you’re only looking to turn your single USB-C port into a single USB 3.0 port, Satechi also offers small, color-matched adapters to do just that. I briefly tried one when testing Type-C USB Hub, and generally the same rules apply. There’s an LED status indicator and you can connect to iOS devices, flash drives, and other common USB accessories and devices, but no powering SuperDrives.
Satechi’s Type-C USB Hub is sold in three finishes: gold, silver, and gunmetal (which matches space gray) for $34.99 (reg. $39.99). Satechi’s smaller USB-C to USB adapter is also available in gold, silver, and gunmetal and goes for $9.99 (reg. $14.99). For the MacBook matching design and SD Card slot, I recommend Type-C USB Hub as long as you can manage not charging your MacBook while using the added ports.