An interesting concept with less than positive results
For quite a while I’ve struggled with how to work remotely with the newer MacBook Pros. As you are probably aware, they are only equipped with USB-C ports and it can be quite difficult to set up a mobile workstation when you have multiple adapters connected to your computer. So, I’ve done a lot of research into portable docking stations and found that DockCase recently released the DockCase P1 QC Adapter for the 15-inch MacBook Pro and I finally thought I might have found the ‘best’ solution for my quandary.
The DockCase P1 QC Adapter is designed to not only provide power to the laptop and other devices that are connected to the adapter, but it’s also designed to be a dock between your computer and the connected devices. This particular DockCase adapter is compatible with the MacBook Pro 87W charger.
There are three distinct modes available with the adapter:
- Multiport Wall Charger Mode – when you connect the adapter to a power socket and not to the MacBook Pro
- Dock Mode – when you connect the adapter to your MacBook Pro and the connected devices
- Power Dock Mode – when you connect the product to your MacBook Pro and a power socket simultaneously
- Compatibility: Apple 87W USB-C Power Adapter (for 15-in MacBook Pro)
- Output Ports: Type-C Female x 1; USB-A 2.0 x 1 USB A 3.0 x 3
- Support Protocols Input: USB PD 2.0 (Type-C Male); USB 3.1 Gen2 Data(Type-C Female)
- Support Protocols Output: USB PD 2.0; USB 3.1 Gen2 Data (Type-C Female); QC3.0 (USB-A 2.0) USB 2.0+USB3.0+BC1.2 (USB-A 3.0)
- Input Power (Max): ≥87W
- Type-C Female Port Output: USB PD2.0 / 70W Max
- USB-A Fast Charger Port: QC3.0 / 5~12V / 0~3A
- Single USB-A 3.0 Output (Max): 5V / 2.5A Max
- Total USB-A 3.0 Output (Max): 5V / 4A Max
- USB Data Transfer Speed: Type-C Female Port: USB 3.1 Gen2 (10Gbps); USB-A 3.0 Port: USB 3.0(5Gbps) + USB 2.0
The DockCase P1 QC Adapter has a lot going for it. The packaging it comes in is fairly minimal, but clearly shows the product on the outside of it. The adapter rests gently inside of a plastic tray on the inside of the box while its cable and instructions are beneath it. The cable that comes with the adapter is quite thick. I would say it’s at least twice as a thick as a standard Apple USB-C cable. This makes it a little harder to wrap up than a standard cable.
The first thing I noticed about the adapter was how lightweight it was. It’s made out of heavy-duty plastic but the unit as a whole is much lighter than the Apple power brick itself. DockCase makes it very easy to install your power brick by incorporating a clip style piece of plastic on the end that helps to lock the adapter into place. This part is actually very flexible but there were a couple of times that I felt like I might snap the clip in half because it wouldn’t slide into place easily.
The Apple power brick lines up perfectly with the male USB-C plug on the inside of the adapter. You simply push the power brick into the adapter case until you feel it click into place. The power adapter was a really tight fit in the case. This was a bit off-putting to me. Even though I want to see it be a secure connection, I also want to be able to use the power adapter independently from the adapter.
According to the manual, you should be able to use the DockCase adapter in three ways – as a dock, as a charger, or as a dock-charger. So, the first thing I did was to plug the laptop into the adapter using the provided USB-C cable. I didn’t connect the power brick at this point because I wanted to see how well the adapter would work as a dock. I connected an external hard drive by Western Digital into one of the USB 3.0 ports. After about 20 seconds, the drive mounted to my computer and I was able to interface with it normally. I ran a speed test on the hard drive and its speed was comparable to other USB-C to USB-A adapters I’ve used.
With the hard drive still plugged in, I plugged in my iPhone XS and at first, it seemed as though the phone might charge directly off of the laptop, but then the hard drive disconnected from the laptop automatically and I got the error on the desktop saying it had been ejected incorrectly. I also noticed that the iPhone was not charging as indicated by the flashing charging icon. I thought that might be because of the cable I was using, but when I used an Apple-certified Lightning cable, I got the same result. The phone was not recognized by the computer when the DockCase adapter was connected to the computer without being also plugged into a power source.
Next, I installed the power brick and tried to see how well devices would connect to the laptop using this mode. As it turned out, the iPhone had no problem connecting to the MacBook Pro when the power brick was plugged into a power source, but the laptop wouldn’t charge. The battery indicator on the computer showed that the Power Source was a “power adapter” and “not charging”. I did a voltage test on the USB-C port of the DockCase adapter and got the same reading that I got when I tested the power output of the Apple Power Brick when it wasn’t installed in the DockCase. After seeing that the laptop wasn’t charging, I removed the power brick from the adapter and plugged the laptop into the power brick using the same USB-C cable I was using with the adapter. The laptop started charging right away. I don’t have a good explanation of why the computer would charge with the power brick, but not the adapter given that the same cable and power source was being used. The only difference I saw was that the iPhone was plugged into the DockCase Adapter at the same time I was trying to charge the laptop. So, I duplicated the test but didn’t plug in the phone and I got the same result.
While I really love the concept of this accessory, I think it needs some improvements made in order to be 100% functional for me. I like the design of it, but don’t like that it is difficult to take my power brick out of it and the fact that my laptop wasn’t gaining a charge while connected through the DockCase adapter but would when I was connected directly to the power brick really shows that this isn’t a product that’s for me at this time.