This handy little (59x99x16mm) unit from the Apple-friendly US-based Sonnet supports an additional two 4K (up to 4096×2160 pixels) 60Hz displays via separate DisplayPort cables or one 5K (5120×2880 pixels) 60Hz display using both, adapting them into one of those USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports on a Mac.
The Sonnet Thunderbolt 3 to DisplayPort adapter runs at 40Gbps and supports audio over DisplayPort and gets its power from the built-in USB-C connector, plus it’s backwards compatible with lower-resolution displays down to 1080p, and other types of monitors and projectors can be plugged in also, including projectors, via adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA (there’s a list of compatible devices, apparently, at the Sonnet site).
I love how these things ‘just work’ on Macs, don’t you? The instructions for Mac are basically plug it in since macOS already has integral drivers (then launch System Preferences, choose Displays and configure). For Windows, it’s update your BIOS to the latest version, update to the latest Thunderbolt version, confirm it’s running the latest Windows and if not update that too, connect the adapter with your computer turned on and then tell it to approve’ the device. Yikes. I don’t even know what a BIOS is (don’t worry, I don’t really want to, either). Besides, not all Thunderbolt 3 Windows PCs support dual displays or 60Hz refresh rates – who knew? Also, this Sonnet display adapter is not compatible with USB-C-only ports. (I didn’t realise these existed either.)
Conclusion — There’s not much to say about this really, it’s plug-and-play, works perfectly and doesn’t even need a power supply. Sonnet always makes good stuff.
Sonnet Thunderbolt 3 to Dual DisplayPort adapter,NZ$195 (US$79)
MagBytes 91 is here,with all the news about Apple’s new iPhone 8s, the iPhone X, iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, new Apple TV, new Watch Series 3 and Apple TV, new operating systems for Watch and TV and more.
With a host of handy tips and three new products, this handy PDF reference should make your day.
If you have a new MacBook or MacBook Pro, you only have USB-C ports which are wonderful in every single way except one: hardly anyone uses them. Ouch. I mean, they’re faster, daisy-chainable, multi-functional … you know what I mean.
So, to get anywhere with these marvellous machines, you need dongles … dongles that basically step down all these marvellous new capabilities to the boring old tech everything else uses: USB, Ethernet, HDMI … but hey, you can go one better.
A Dock – one device, that only uses one of those precious be-all/end-all USB-C (AKA Thunderbolt 3) and parlays it into a veritable party of those old technology connectors so you can run everything you already have while, best of all, leaving three more of those USB-C ports (in the case of the 15-inch MacBook Pro) for newer technology. Once it shows up.
And these marvellous Docks will set you back a few hundred, but they do a lot of work for the money. I hope to look at Belkin’s and Kensington’s Thunderbolt 3 Docks soon (popularity seems to be affecting supply), but in the meantime, let’s assess this little Moshi contender, the symbus.
Small — The symbus is a very compact (by Dock standards) and thence portable (although it needs its own power supply) USB-C hub. It’s only about the size of a packet of cigarettes – remember those?
The symbus is silver and sits on a fairly substantial, non-slip pedestal and has a fixed USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 cable coming out of the back, about 25cm long, which goes into your Mac, and a power-brick with NZ/AU power supply that plugs in. As for ports, it can’t fit as many as a full-size Dock but its array is well considered and, for many, indispensable: 1000mbps Ethernet, HDM for an external monitor or projector, and 2x USB-A 5Gbps ports.
In turn, plugging in the symbus, since it has a power supply of its own, can push up to 65 watts – enough to charge a MacBook or MacBook Pro 13-inch (the MacBook Pro 15-inch with Touch Bar needs 87 watts, so it’s not up to that). But on compatible Macs, that means another port is released for you.
Symbus will provide power delivery up to 65W for laptop charging. This is enough for MacBooks and MacBook Pros up through the 13-inch model from late 2016, but the 15-inch MacBook Pro (late 2016) with Touch Bar requires 87W of power to charge it.
The USB ports carry different power too. The left-hand USB port is high-speed for charging smartphone and tablets (2.1A). This meant it also ran my Zoom UAC-2 Audio Interface; the other port did not, so the right one’s more for mice, keyboards and other low-power requirements.
App for that — Although this is a plug-and-play device, moshi has an an app in the Mac App store (free) called the USB-C Dock Utility which adds the features of letting you eject any USB devices plugged into the Dock at once, it indicates Ethernet status and lets you update firmware on the symbus should it be available.
This installs into your more amenable (to customisation) right-side menus at the top of your monitor.
Alternatives — Moshi also makes a USB-C Multiport Adapter, a 3-in-1 hub that supports 1080p and 4K video output to HDMI plus one USB port, with a pass-through USB-C port so it can also be used to charge a MacBook, for NZ$140. https://www.moshi.com/usb-c-multiport-adapter )
Conclusion —A handy compact Dock, in effect, that limits itself to the most useful features in a small form factor (Ethernet, HDMI and two USB ports). However, some devices need the high power port (some audio interfaces) and you’ll need to remember that’s the left-hand-one, not the right-hand-one.
What’s great —Attractive, small, portable, slick and very useful What’s not — Good luck finding one. Moshi is still setting up retail sales in New Zealand. It’s also expensive for only four ports, it’s getting near the prices of much bigger Docks with 10 ports like the Kensington (NZ$380, but only charges to 60w) or Belkin ($640 but charges to 85w) Needs — Anyone wanting to free up one or more ports, and those who prefer faster (than wifi) internet access, as I do, with Ethernet.
Moshi symbus Compact docking station NZ$269.99 (US$124.95) System — Any USB-C or Thunderbolt 3-equipped laptop – Thunderbolt-3 compatible and 100% plug-n-play, no drivers needed, although firmware updates are available through the free moshi app. HDMI port for adding an external display (4K@30Hz, 1080p@60Hz); Gigabit Ethernet port for wired data transfer up to 1000 Mbps; 2xUSB-A ports for connecting a keyboard, mouse, or hard drive; USB PD function for fast-charging USB-C laptops (up to 50W, which does not include the new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar) with integrated Smart LED charging indicator (for Macs that are supported) More information —Moshi
What to expect from Apple’s WWDC 2015 keynote: iOS 9, OS X 10.11, new Apple TV, more — Apple is gearing up for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, set to kick off with a keynote presentation next Monday where the company is expected to announce a number of new products, including the next generations of its iOS and OS X platforms, as well as an all-new Apple TV set-top box.
Apple recalls Beats Pill XL over fire hazard — Apple has issued a voluntary recall for the Beats Pill XL portable Bluetooth speaker citing the potential for the device’s battery to overheat and pose a fire hazard. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission says that of the 231,000 units sold, there were eight reports of overheating with one saying their fingers were burned and other saying their desk was damaged.
Thunderbolt’s future on the Mac could be saved by the USB-C port — Just when you thought Thunderbolt was dead, it comes back to life. Intel has announced Thunderbolt 3, offering more bandwidth, trademark Thunderbolt versatility, and a page from the old Thunderbolt playbook–plug compatibility with an existing connector. Thunderbolt 3 doubles the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2, to 40Gbps–the original Thunderbolt only supported 10Gbps of bandwidth. Luckily, Thunderbolt and USB-C are now allies.
Senate passes USA Freedom Act, restores some NSA surveillance powers — The US Senate on Tuesday passed the USA Freedom Act, a bill which restores certain surveillance powers to the National Security Agency while curtailing some of its greater excesses. [In other words, the Freedom Act seriously curtails various freedoms. Orwell would love this New Speak.]