Living With USB-C

I’ve had my MacBook Pro for a little over 6 months now. It’s the one with the touchbar and only USB-C ports. I was worried that those ports — no “conventional” USB ports nor an SD card slot — would be the most difficult part of the laptop. (It turns out that the most difficult thing to get used to has been the escape and arrow keys, but that’s a different story for another time.) The USB ports are actually quite nice. Being able to swap the power connection between the left and right side of the laptop has been extremely convenient.

Over this time, I’ve collected up some accessories — mostly useful, but a few less-so. I figured I’d share what I’ve discovered in the process.

Storage

The Kingston 128GB Micro Duo flash drive is pretty nifty. Storage on the laptop, at 250GB isn’t spectacular, so it’s nice to be able to offload media to a flash drive that can plug into a more conventional USB-A.

Adapters

The Aukey USB-C to USB 3.0 Adapter comes in a 2-pack. I have four of these scattered around, split between my home and my laptop bag. In a couple of them, as shown here, I have a tiny micro-SD card adapter permanently attached. With the adapter is useful for bringing up a Raspberry Pi or grabbing screenshots from the Nintendo Switch. And without, it’s a standard USB-A port that anything can plug into.

Cables

I have a few of these USB-C to Micro USB 3.0 cables around the house. The one end plugs into the laptop and the other is that micro USB that almost looks like two side-by-side connectors (because it’s carrying the extra USB 3.0 signaling). This gives me maximum speed when I plug into external USB3 devices, like fast hard drives or a portable Blu-Ray reader. The cable insulation is covered in cloth, so it tactically separates itself from all the other cables in the house.
The USB-C to Micro USB 2.0 cable is more what you think of when it comes to micro USB. It’s just the standard little connector that plugs into the Kindle, Raspberry Pi, newer Arduino variants, and so on. This one is not only cloth-covered (like the cable above) but red. It easily distinguishes itself from the other cables in the house and from the other cloth cable.

Nintendo Switch

The Switch is also USB-C powered, so I’ve expanded my scope to include it. The Anker USB-C 20100 mAh battery charges the switch (while playing, even!) as well as any other USB device in my bag. It gives you a USB-C port and two USB-A ports.
And while we’re talking about the Switch, get yourself a spare official charger. Last month, while trying to play as a group, with multiple docks and televisions, I discovered the hard way that the dock don’t like my Apple USB-C charger (despite it being able to push out more than enough wattage). I was stuck in handheld mode because the dock kept complaining about my non-Nintendo charger.

The Poop List

I work with large video files, so wired ethernet is sometimes important. Apple’s solution for wired ethernet (at the time of the laptop launch — I understand it’s better now) was to chain together two adapters. USB-C to Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt to wired ethernet. Lame.
The nonda USB-C to USB 3.0 adapter looked promising. It’s small, like the Aukey, and made of aluminum, so seems durable. In practice, it was a little flaky.

So that’s my list. Hopefully you’ll learn a little something from it. Some of the above links are Amazon Affiliate links and some go off to Monoprice.

Posted in: Gadgets

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Brian Enigma

Brian Enigma is a Portlander, manipulator of atoms & bits, minor-league blogger, and all-around great guy. He typically writes about the interesting “maker” projects he’s working on, but sometimes veers off into puzzles, software, games, local news, and current events.

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