As a result, I’ve turned to various solutions, from simple cables to connect HDMI monitors to USB-C, to slightly more complex docks that add traditional USB (Type-A) and perhaps additional storage options to full-scale notebook docks. Each has its pros and cons. Here are some of the tools I’ve tried lately.
As laptops have gotten lighter and thinner, one notable tradeoff has been a reduction in the number of ports. It’s not unusual for me to see machines that have just two (or maybe even just one) USB-C port, with maybe an audio jack. But when I’m working with a laptop on a desk—something I’ve done much more often in these days of working from home—I often want more devices attached.
(USB-C is a great standard, promising a uniform port that can be used for everything from expansion storage to external displays to power delivery. It gets even better when combined with Thunderbolt 3 or 4, which use the same connector, and thus offers faster file transfers.)
Simple dongles, such as those that connect a USB Type-A connector to USB-C, are widely available with prices in the $5 to $20 range, and each I’ve tried has worked just fine. I have used these for both external storage and for connecting an external mouse and keyboard.
Similarly, cables that connect an HDMI monitor to USB-C are widely available with prices in the $12 to $20 range, and these have worked for me as well. The one downside is that each takes a port, and of course, you probably want to keep one port reserved for power, so you have to choose a single function. If you’re travelling, you may need to carry multiple dongles.
The next step up is a simple dock that offers USB power in, as well as an HDMI port and a USB-A port. I’ve used a Samsung multiport adapter (with a list price of about $70), and this has worked well with most laptops, as well as for use with plugging a monitor and keyboard into a Galaxy phone to use the DeX feature. Off-brand versions are available for as little as $20.
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