A Pint-Sized Hub designed to enhance your MacBook productivity.
Over the past week, approximately 100 million people were affected by the Winter storm Landon, with a few sources reporting that more than 300,000 were without power. My family and I were lucky to maintain power throughout the Winter Storm, but we did not escape the poor roads. Due to the snow, sleet, and freezing rain, my office closed for business on Thursday, 2/3/22, and Friday, 2/4/22. Completing needed tasks proved to be more difficult without my in-office dual-screen monitors, mouse, and keyboard setup. Thanks to hubs/adapters from companies like Satechi, I improved upon my situation; I was able to approximate my in-office desktop setup with my MacBook Pro.
The Satechi USB-C Pro HUB MINI arrived in a visually appealing, light gray colored, 3 1/8 inches wide by 7 1/8 inches tall by 13/16 inches thick hanging-style retail package. The company name was printed along the top left in black/orange font, and the USB-C PRO HUB Mini adapter name was listed at the bottom left edge of the cover. Along the upper right quadrant, the company provided a bright-orange rectangle with USB4/USB-C Data/USB-A 3.2/Ethernet/3.5mm Audio Jack. Despite the eye-catching bright color against the gray background, the main focal point of the cover was the slightly raised, 1 5/8 inches wide by 4 5/8 inches tall, glossy image of the Pro Hub Mini. The image benefited from the age-old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words by directly showcasing two USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, and an Ethernet port. I liked the appearance of the machined/beveled edges, the metallic gray shimmering surface, and the promise of improved productivity.
Like the cover panel, each side panel listed the SATECHI name in black/orange font. The only difference was that the right-side panel had a small silver circle denoting the product color. The top panel was left unadorned, while the bottom panel provided the ST-UCPHMIM model number, product manufacturing labels, an SKU barcode, and copyright information. The rear panel did an excellent job describing the Mini Hub features but was a bit busier than the cover. The company name was listed along the top left, the address and email (www.satechi.net) was recorded along the top right, and four product feature icons were listed along the mid to lower section of the panel: 1. 1x USB4/1xUSB-C data Port. 2. 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 Ports. 3. Ethernet Port. 4. Audio Jack Port. Mirroring the cover, the main focal point of the rear cover was the large image of the hub plugged into a stunning MacBook Pro. The image seemed to show a newer device with a MagSafe 3 Charger, a feature that was sadly eliminated and then brought back by popular demand. Adjacent to the charger, you will see the hub plugged into the dual USB-C ports on the MacBook Pro. The image showcased the dual USB-A ports with installed memory sticks, the Ethernet Port, dual USB-C ports, and a bottom-facing 3.5mm audio port. I loved that the color of the hub matched the color of the MacBook Pro and appeared to be part of the machine instead of a plugged-in peripheral.
I retracted the hanging tab into the back panel, removed the tape along the top, opened the lid, and removed the black cardboard tray. Hidden beneath the tray, you will find a 3-page fold-out instruction manual for the Pro Hub Mini Adapter, with the same image presented on the cover panel. The subsequent pages provided a labeled adapter diagram and listed the functions in twelve languages, including English. The Hub Adapter was designed to plug into both of the USB-C ports on either side of the MacBook Pro. The manual detailed the audio jack connector hidden at the back of the adapter, and the audio jack port on the lower section of the adapter. Next, It detailed the USB-C data port, the ethernet port, the dual USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports, an LED indicator, and USB4 Port. The following section provided a multilingual warning to avoid exceeding a 900mA input for connected USB devices. The last two panels provided FCC/CE declarations, and instructions on the Plug and Play nature of the kit. The setup process could not be any easier than plugging into the MacBook Pro and connecting your favorite devices.
I removed the 1.44-ounce silver/gray adapter from the tray and appreciated the size/dimensions of the lightweight adapter. Measuring at 1 1/4 inches wide (1 1/2 inches to the tip of the USB-C connectors) by 4 inches tall by 15/32 inches thick, the device was not much longer than the width of my hand. I appreciated the matte metallic silver/gray coloration of the device and that there were no blemishes or add-ons to be seen. Additionally, I was impressed with the rounded/machined corners of the adapter. The bottom surface provided the SATECHI name and product manufacturing labels. By plugging the device into the left side of the MacBook Pro, the writing faced downward toward the table. If you plug the device into the right side of the MacBook Pro, you will need to invert the hub to access the USB-C ports. Due to the positioning, the adapter will follow the counter of the MacBook, but the Satechi name and labels will face upward. If desired, you can rotate the device to angle forward and toward the screen to enjoy the smooth unadorned surface. Even though the retractable plastic audio jack connector was designed with the latest MacBook Pro in mind, with MagSafe 3, dual USB-C, and 3.5 port on the left side, it will work with other MacBook Pro/Air models. My model of the MacBook Pro (2018 15″) does not have a 3.5mm connector on that side, but it did have the appropriately spaced dual USB-C and 3.5mm ports on the right side. Thus, If desired, I could use all three of the attachment points of the adapter.
With four children, ages 12, 10, 6, and 3-years-old, I cannot trust a naked MacBook. From rogue spills to random swipes off our table, to kicked power cords, and numerous other electronic hating activities, I have relied upon a UAG Plasma Series Case to keep my MacBook Pro in tip-top, pristine condition. Unfortunately, as seen with cased iPhones, peripherals do not tend to pair well. This is where I met my only hiccup with the product. Since the Satechi adapter was designed to fit flush against the MacBook Pro, the case did not allow the adapter to connect/pair properly. Luckily, the lower section of the UAG case was not difficult to remove and easily folded back and out of the way. If I wanted to use the device on the right side of the MacBook, I also had to remove the screen section. I thus removed the case, retracted the 3.5 audio jack connector, plugged the device into the left side of my MacBook Pro, and tested the utility. I first plugged a TOSHIBA 1 TB drive into the adapter via USB-A and then my iPad Pro 11″ into the adapter via USB-C. I utilized the sidecar feature to mirror my screen and used the hub to power my iPad. Simultaneously, I utilized the USB-A drive to transfer data to the USB-A portable drive. I used the Black Magic Disc Speed Test and ran a read/write test on the drive. I was able to get 103–105 MB/s read and ~104–105.5Mb/s write utilizing the speed test. I was able to transfer data, power the drive, and simultaneously power the iPad Pro 11″ through the adapter. The USB-A drives are not designed as power output ports and are not designed to charge devices (or power portable CD drives, according to the website). While my 3-year-old daughter slept, I plugged a pair of my 1MORE Over ear headphones into the 3.5 adapter and enjoyed some TNMT nostalgia from my 1 TB Toshiba drive.
Without USB-A ports on my MacBook Pro, I must rely upon hubs, adapters, and dongles. With four closely spaced USB-C ports (two on either side of the MacBook Pro), I often cannot afford to tie up several of the ports with peripherals. Additionally, I have numerous older USB-A external drives that I still need to access. I would have loved at least a single HDMI or display port on the $69.99 Type-C Pro Hub Mini, like those on the $99.99 Type-C Pro Hub Adapter(USB-C X2 PD, SD/Micro card reader, 4k HDMI), the Type-C Pro Hub Adapter with Ethernet (Ethernet, USB-C PD charging, USB-A data port x 2, and micro SD card reader), or the Pro Hub Max (USB C PD, 4K HDMI, USB-A data, micro/SD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet, USB-C Data, and 3.5mm port). Interestingly, the Aluminum Type-C Mobile Pro Hub ($59.99), made for the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pro, provided a 3.5mm port, 4K HDMI, single USB-A, and a USB-C PD 3.0. With so many options available from Satechi, you have the luxury of picking the device that best suits you. Like the variety of Iron Man Armors, one Hub may suit you better than another. Despite the minor limitation of the Pro Hub Mini, I do understand that the added features increase the cost of the device and the goal of this device was reduced size/footprint. Luckily, I was able to utilize a USB-C to HDMI adapter and USB-C to DisplayPort cable through the hub to enjoy dual monitors to work from home.
The easy-to-pocket Pro Hub Mini succeeded in expanding the features of my MacBook Pro, even though I did not have the latest M1 MacBook Pro. The Pro Hub Mini is an easy to use, plug-and-play device that should fit most modern MacBook Pro/Air thanks to the retractable 3.5mm audio jack connector. Even though I do not have a 6K 60Ghz display at present, many individuals want a hub that is capable of high-resolution output. I loved that I could utilize the USB 4 port to charge my iPad Pro (up to 96W) and that the hub’s space gray color matched that of the MacBook Pro. Additionally, the 3.5mm port proved to be an invaluable addition to this setup. The design allowed me to use the adapter on either side of my MacBook Pro, for added convenience. Furthermore, the 3.5mm port will allow both an input and output of data, and worked when I plugged in my 1More over-ear headphones to provide sound and microphone input. Lastly, I used an iRig 3.5mm Lavalier Microphone to input sound into iMovie for my son’s project and then utilized the hub to transfer the project to a USB-A jump drive. When complete, I removed the adapter, slid my Macbook Pro into a protective sleeve, then into my TimBuk2 messenger bag, and slid the Satechi Pro Hub Mini adapter into my BUBM electronics organizer.
If you are looking to expand the utility of your MacBook Pro beyond the base state, look to Satetchi for a plethora of hubs and adapters. You should have no problem finding a device to suit your need and price point. With quality machined, color-matched aluminum, high functioning ports, and a near-perfect matchup with the Macbook, Satechi should feel a great deal of pride in their device.