Hyper, the prolific third-party Apple hardware maker, has created a new device that addresses one of the biggest issues with the 2018 iPad Pro — the sheer amount of dongles needed for basic connectivity to external devices.

Apple makes several dongles, including the USB-C to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter, USB-C to SD Card Reader, USB-C to USB Adapter, and USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter. A single 6-in-1 HyperDrive USB-C Hub can replace all of those dongles, and look much better in the process.

Today marks the beginning of Hyper’s Kickstarter campaign to launch its USB-C Hub for iPad Pro. Early backers can score a space gray HyperDrive hub for $49. The company sent over a couple of units for some much-anticipated early hands-on time.

Is this the definitive peripheral that all iPad Pro owners should have their eye on? Watch our first look video walkthrough for the details.

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Specifications

  • 6-in-1 USB-C Hub (HDMI 2K60, USB-C Data & Power Delivery, microSD, SD Card, USB-A, 3.5mm Headphone Jack)
  • Aluminum Space Gray or Silver design to match iPad Pro
  • Slim design that sits flush with iPad Pro
  • Works with or without Apple Smart Keyboard Folio
  • Removable soft grip to work with other iPad Pro cases or devices
  • Works with 11-inch and 12.9-inch 2018 iPad Pro models

Design

Hyper is no stranger when it comes to creating good-looking peripherals, and the HyperDrive USB-C Hub shows that the company’s design priorities haven’t changed. The hub, with its iPad chassis color-matching design, is a better looking peripheral than any dongle that Apple offers for its tablet.

Video walkthrough

https://youtu.be/ryAPrw8o1tM

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Thanks to its removable soft grip, the hub attaches flush with the iPad Pro via its USB-C port. The soft grip, which is made of plastic, ensures that the HyperDrive USB-C hub fits snuggly without scratching the iPad Pro chassis.

The soft grip is a key element, not only because it protects the iPad Pro from metal to metal contact, but also because its lip grips the edge of the iPad Pro securely. If you’re using a case that doesn’t work with the grip, you can use a Philips screwdriver to remove it to expose slightly more USB-C connector length.

Ports

What makes the HyperDrive so compelling is the sheer amount of ports it adds to the iPad Pro via a single adapter. There’s HDMI, USB-A, USB-C with power delivery, SD Card (not UHS-II), micro SD, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. You get all of that I/O from a single adapter, while still being able to charge your iPad Pro via the USB-C pass through.

Needless to say, a single HyperDrive is significantly more convenient than having to carry around and keep up with several of Apple’s dongles. Its color-matched aluminum exterior that sits flush with the iPad Pro looks more professional than Apple’s dangling bright white adapters as well.

First impressions

Hyper makes quality products, and even this early preview of the HyperDrive USB-C Hub is well-designed and well-built. Not only is it functional as a 6-in-1 hub, but it provides that functionality without sacrificing on looks.

I was loaned a Silver and Space Gray USB-C Hub, and both look awesome. The connection to the iPad Pro via the USB-C port was solid, and I never worried about the hub inadvertently disconnecting. The removable soft grip ensures a good fit, and because the grip is made of soft plastic material, you won’t worry about it scratching your iPad Pro.

The hub connects to the iPad Pro with no issues, even when using the Smart Keyboard Folio. If you’re using some other sort of case, you can remove the soft grip to accommodate the need for extra USB-C port length.

When you connect the HyperDrive to the USB-C port on your iPad Pro, the length of the hub partially obstructs the speaker grills on the 11-inch Pro.

This initially concerned me, but after testing and comparing speaker output with the hub connected and disconnected, I wasn’t able to discern any noticeable difference in sound output quality or loudness. I haven’t tested the hub on the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but I imagine that the results are similar.

Hyper says that data and power delivery work over the hub’s USB-C port, and I was able to confirm this. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for display output passthrough via USB-C. The 2018 iPad Pro supports up to 5K display output when connected directly to a compatible USB-C display.

The good news is that Hyper’s hub has a built in HDMI port which will allow for display output. In its documentation, Apple notes that adapters are capable of supporting up to 4K60 connections, but like Apple’s current-get Digital AV Multiport Adapter, the refresh rate when connected to Hyper’s adapter is limited to 2K60.

Conclusion

Having all of this I/O in a sleek, well-designed package makes the HyperDrive USB-C Hub a compelling option for those of you who own the 11- or 12.9-inch version of the 2018 iPad Pro. It makes for a great alternative to the handful of floppy dongles that Apple offers.

We’ll be back with a full review of the hub once it begins shipping to customers. For those willing to back the product on Kickstarter early, you can score a HyperDrive hub for just $49. With the combined price of the aforementioned Apple dongles going for well over $100, my early conclusion is that HyperDrive’s USB-C hub looks like winner.

What do you think? Sound off down below in the comments with your thoughts and opinions.

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