A portable hub for portable workstations.
If this past year has taught us anything it’s that we have to be mobile and we have to be flexible with our workspaces. I’ve worked off of a laptop for years and have had to modify the ways I work based on the peripherals I use. My laptop – a 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro – only has USB-C/Thunderbolt ports on it. Therefore, I have to use a dock or hub in order to connect to any outside devices. A lot of modern laptops have this problem now and so there are a lot of options for connectivity. Moshi, a designer of premium accessories, has a brand new 7-in-1 portable USB-C hub called the Symbus Mini and it’s perfect for working remotely.
The Symbus Mini is a compact, portable USB-C hub with full desktop connectivity. It features an HDMI port that supports 4K @ 60Hz and High Dynamic Range. There is also a Gigabit Ethernet port, SD/Micro SD card slots, and USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports. The dock is 100% plug and play and no drivers are required for its operation. The hub has an attached USB-C cable with SnapTo functionality (magnetic cable management) so that the cable is hidden away.
|HDMI 2.0 port supporting 4K @ 60 Hz, HDR and 7.1 surround-sound audio|
|USB-C charging pass-through port for Power Delivery (PD) up to 70 W|
|SD and microSD card slots (UHS-1) with transfer speeds up to 104 MB/s|
|Two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports supporting up to 5 Gbps|
|Slimline Gigabit Ethernet port for up to 1000 Mbps wired network speeds|
|Thunderbolt 3 compatibility with plug and play support; no drivers required|
In general, I like the form factor of the Symbus Mini, but in terms of practical use, there are a few things I would change. First of all, the USB-C port is only for PD passthrough. I think this was a missed opportunity to provide a higher data transfer rate than the USB 3.1 Gen 1 that is available through the USB-A ports. While I’m on that subject, it seems as though the USB-A ports could be rated for at least USB 3.2 speeds. That said, the USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports are faster than some other hubs I’ve tested. I plugged in several devices including two external hard drives, a flash drive, and an SD card, and ran some speed tests using Blackmagic Disk Speed Test. The read/write speed test results are listed in the tablet below.
|WESTERN DIGITAL MY PASSPORT SSD||425.4 MB/s||409.8 MB/s|
|WESTERN DIGITAL MY PASSPORT ULTRA PORTABLE HARD DRIVE||26.5 MB/s||49.4 MB/s|
|SILICON POWER BLAZE USB 3.0 64GB FLASH DRIVE||55.7 MB/s||204.8 MB/s|
|SANDISK ULTRA CLASS 6 SD CARD||9.2 MB/s||44.9 MB/s|
The build quality of this hub is very good. The design has solved one of my main complaints about docks like this – the extension cable. The Symbus Mini has a place for the cable to be tucked away and it magnetizes in its storage channel so that it can’t flop around. The body of the hub is a combination of aluminum and plastic. It doesn’t get too hot, but after running for a while, the top of the aluminum does get warm. It’s not too warm to be concerning, but it’s noticeable. The hub is quite durable and travels easily.
Moshi has reliable accessories and I would deem any device from them to be trustworthy. This hub is slightly larger than other UBS 7-in-1 hubs I’ve worked with, but it’s still very portable. I like that all the ports are located on one side because that makes it easier for cable management. All in all, I think it’s a good product to keep in your toolbox.