Trying to work with USB-C/Thunderbolt devices like the MacBook Pro or iPad Mini can typically require dongles to use accessories you use fairly often.
Here are four of my favorite current USB-C accessories that obviously don’t require an adapter to use, and are well-valued accessories. Watch our hands-on video to see each of these products in use.
JTC425 wooden monitor stand
The first item in no particular order is the JTC425 wooden monitor stand from j5Create. It’s an 8-in-1 type-C docking station that’s perfect to use with something like a MacBook Air or Pro.
The port selection includes 5 USB 3.0 Type-A ports, 3 USB-C ports, and a HDMI port that supports 4K UHD up to 30 Hz. One of the Type-C ports has support for power delivery 3.0, allowing it to charge your MacBook while it’s in use.
Video: four helpful USB-C accessories for Mac users
The design is my favorite part of the stand overall. It’s built with a handmade grained wooden surface that’s sturdy and can support up to 88 pounds (40 kg). The stand’s legs are made with a solid silver aluminum. The stand has a very “Apple” aesthetic that is something I’m a big fan of. It was incredibly easy to set up, and took about five minutes to do so.
My only con regarding the stand is that all of the ports are connected to one module, even though the stand has a cutout for a module on both sides. I would have liked to have seen half the ports be a part of a separate module that you’d access on the other side of the stand. But as far as my usage goes, it isn’t that big of a deal and something I can live with.
For the price of $139.99, I’d say it’s worth it if the port selection and design pleases you, as it’s something you’d theoretically utilize on a daily basis. However, j5Create gave 9to5Mac a 15% off code (YTMS15) for all of you to use when purchasing the stand on their website. Given that discount, I’d highly recommend picking one up.
If you’ve been looking for a mid-range microphone with USB-C, look no further. The Beyerdynamic FOX is one of the best around in its class. It’s got a lightweight, sleek, and portable design. It even comes with a clip-on pop filter, which is something microphones like the Blue Yeti don’t have in the box.
The controls and button layout is nothing out of the ordinary. You’ve got a mute button and 3.5 mm port for headphone monitoring, as well as a a few dials for tweaking the mix and headphone volume. There’s also a gain switch on the back right above the USB-C port. The foldable stand, while made of plastic, is very sturdy, and shouldn’t break on you in the vast majority of use-case scenarios.
As far as audio quality goes, I’ve been very pleased with my results. It has better low-end audio quality than something like the Blue Yeti or the Rode NT-USB. The only issue that some might encounter coming from the typical USB condenser microphone is volume.
Compared to the Blue Yeti or Rode NT-USB, the gain is naturally very low, and something you can’t reasonably use for conference calls and things of that nature. It’s meant to be used mainly for instrumentals, vocal performances, and voice-over work. But for the current $140 price point, it’s a great buy if your needs fit within those parameters.
The Logitech Craft recently had a price drop down to $169.99 from its MSRP of $199.99. And at that price point, it’s still a very expensive keyboard, but well worth it. Here’s why.
The Craft is not only wireless and full-sized, it’s also backlit. The key travel is very similar to the Pre-Thunderbolt 3 generation of MacBooks. There’s plenty of travel, and each key is dimpled, giving your fingers a nice place to rest.
The star of the show with the Craft is the custom function dial. It can be programmed to provide shortcuts for the operating system and specific applications like Adobe Photoshop. In addition to that, using the Logitech Options software, you can customize a lot of other keys on the Craft.
There’s also a few shortcut buttons above the numpad for taking screenshots, opening the calculator and locking your Mac. These three shortcuts are all buttons I personally use on a daily basis. The Craft can also be paired with up to three devices at once, using either bluetooth, or the standard Logitech Unifying receiver.
Given the price point, the keyboard, while made of plastic, still feels very high end. And there’s an aluminum chassis on the top that houses the battery and provides the majority of the weight for the keyboard. The battery typically lasts about two weeks in my experience. But when you’re ready to charge or sync, there’s a USB-C port right on the back.
Overall, anything over $150 for a keyboard is a hefty investment, but if you’re looking for the most functional and reliable keyboard to use with a Mac that has USB-C, then I wouldn’t steer you in any other direction.
Nonda USB-C to USB-A adapter
Lastly on this list of USB-C accessories is the USB 3.0 Type-C to A dongle from Nonda. There really isn’t anything substantial about this dongle in particular, but it’s only $10 depending on the color choice and is very reliable.
It’s made with an aluminum build and has an LED indicator in the corner so you know when it’s on and in use. It also has a silver, space gray, and gold color option for those using this with a MacBook.
This is a really great product for the minimalist who only needs one USB-C port adapted, and I’d highly recommend picking one up for pure convenience’s sake. On a day where you’re only going to need your USB flash drive with you, you can throw this in your bag as opposed to a larger 7-in-1 USB-C hub.
Let us know your thoughts on these USB-C accessories in the comments below! Are you picking any of these up?
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