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The new MacBook’s single USB-C port is a major talking point Should the New MacBook's Single Port Scare You Away? Should the New MacBook's Single Port Scare You Away? Apple recently revealed the new MacBook, and it's a jaw-dropper — but it also has only a single port. Was this a blunder, or a sign of the future? Read More —it’s limiting, but it might not be too bad as more and more things become Bluetooth-compatible and USB-C increases in popularity.

However, sometimes you just need more ports. Here’s how to add them to your new MacBook.

Do You Really Need More Ports?

Before deciding on the best solution for you, take a moment to think about whether or not you actually need extra ports. You can do most of your printing over your Wi-Fi network. Phones and tablets can usually be synced via Bluetooth. External storage is easily done via networks, requiring no cables.

And even if you do need to plug in one of these devices, you probably only need it for a few minutes, so it’s not a big deal to unplug your power cable for a bit. In the vast majority of situations, you can probably get by with a single port (especially if you have USB-C devices What Is USB Type-C? What Is USB Type-C? Ah, the USB plug. It is as ubiquitous now as it is notorious for never being able to be plugged in right the first time. Read More and you don’t need a USB-C to USB-A adapter).

usb macbook

However, there are limitations. You can’t charge up your phone or tablet from your computer. You can’t hook your laptop up to a display. And there are some devices that just need to be plugged in (small portable storage, for example). In those cases, you might need more ports. Before you decide which of these solutions is for you, though, think about exactly what you’ll need it for.

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For Stationary Workers

If you do most of your work from one place, you can use a robust solution that’s a bit less portable. These docks are bulky, but they’ll give you all the connectivity you could need.

OWC USB-C Dock ($129)

usbc_color_gray_sd

The OWC dock packs 11 different ports:

  • 4 USB-A ports
  • 2 USB-C ports
  • SD card slot
  • HDMI with 4K display support
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • Audio in and out

The SD card reader, audio out, and one USB-A port are on the front of the dock, while the rest of the ports are on the back. The back also includes a DC in port to plug in an 80W power source so you can power all of the things attached to the dock.

Although it comes in all of the colors of the new MacBook, the dock is a bit clunky. However, at $129, it’s tough to beat the price.

HydraDock ($169)

hydradock

Another 11-port dock, this one provides the following:

  • 4 USB-A ports
  • 2 USB-C ports
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • SDXC card slot
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • HDMI
  • A wired USB-C connector for your MacBook

With a sleeker profile and six USB ports, this is a great option if you tend to use a lot of USB connections. Because it draws power from your MacBook, it could place a big drain on your battery if you’re charging more than a couple things.

With a $169 price tag, it’s a bit more expensive than the OWC dock, but it’s also notably more portable.

For Travelers

If you move around a lot with your MacBook, you’ll need a more portable solution than a dock. There are plenty of solutions that add just enough ports to your MacBook to get you through a work trip or a coffee shop work session How To Rock The Coffee Shop Cubicle How To Rock The Coffee Shop Cubicle Thanks to the Internet, we work where we want to, when we want to, and how we want to. Read More .

Hub+ ($99)

hub-plus

The Hub+ is getting a lot of attention for its compact form, built-in battery, and 7 ports:

  • 3 USB-A ports
  • 2 USB-C ports
  • 1 SD card slot
  • 1 Mini DisplayPort

One of the USB-C ports is used to connect the Hub+ to your MacBook, and you can use the other port to plug in your power adapter so you can charge your computer while using the Hub+. The built-in battery also allows you to charge a phone — you should be able to get about 2.5 hours of additional talk time on an iPhone 6. Mini USB-A to USB-C and Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapters are also available.

The regular retail price of the Hub+ will be $99, but you can pre-order one from Kickstarter for a very reasonable $79.

Branch (from $79)

branch

Instead of connecting to your MacBook via a cord, the Branch adapter actually connects directly to the USB-C port and behaves as an extension of your computer. The small form factor limits it to four ports:

  • 2 USB-A ports
  • 1 USB-C port
  • Mini DisplayPort (an HDMI port is pictured above, but the latest version will have a Mini DisplayPort instead)

There’s also an option to add 64 GB of storage to Branch, significantly increasing the amount of storage space available on your MacBook and obviating the need for a portable hard drive The 8 Best Portable Hard Drives You Can Buy Right Now The 8 Best Portable Hard Drives You Can Buy Right Now Read More . While it doesn’t have the flash of the Hub+’s 7 ports, this will get you the basics, which is what many people need.

The simplicity of the Branch also brings the price down: it’s only $79 (or $69 with a Kickstarter pre-order). If you want the 64GB version, you’ll $139 (or $119 via Kickstarter).

InfiniteUSB-C ($20)

infinite-usbc

While the other solutions discussed in this article have a specific set of ports, the InfiniteUSB system allows you to customize the ports that you add (to a degree). Each InfiniteUSB-C cable has a single port on the other side of the cable, but the cables are meant to be daisy-chained, much like Apple’s Thunderbolt system Why Apple's New Thunderbolt Port Is Awesome [Technology Explained] Why Apple's New Thunderbolt Port Is Awesome [Technology Explained] I/O ports aren’t a technology that folks spend a lot of time thinking about. Let’s face it – they’re not sexy. Still, ports are important. As the interface between your computer and everything else, your... Read More .

This means you can use as many cables as you need. Use a single one to plug in your phone, add another to connect a printer, and add a third to connect your iPad. At the moment, only micro-USB, USB-A, and Lightning are available, but it’s possible that there will be more options in the future.

The biggest advantage of this system is the price: each cable is only $20

What’s Your Plan?

Will you be buying a dock, portable hub or some combination of both? Or is it time to rely solely on USB-C and Bluetooth? Now that you’ve seen some of the options for adding ports to your new MacBook, what do you think?

Image Credits: Cable wire icons Via Shutterstock

  1. Hildegerd Haugen
    August 7, 2015 at 3:53 am

    Not buying the new Macbook.

    • Dann Albright
      August 10, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      Is it because of the lack of ports? Or another reason? Is that why you posted this comment on this particular article?

    • Leo Iannelli
      August 16, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      If not, just buy a second-hand Aluminum Late 2008 one off eBay.

  2. peter collins
    August 5, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    The easiest way to get the ports you need? Don't buy a mac. Buy pretty much any other laptop and you're already outfitted with everything you need.
    That would also save you buying Boot Camp, which is, I believe, the most popular mac software.

    • Quinlan Moore
      August 6, 2015 at 10:41 am

      Bootcamp is free, as is the Mac operating system. If you want to use Windows on your mac, the only thing you have to buy is Windows.

      If you need ports, and want a mac, just avoid this mac. It's probably one of the worst products they've made.
      But their MacBook Air's are actually decent value, when you look at the specs, and the fact that something won't break after a year.

    • Dann Albright
      August 10, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      Peter, if this article was about "get[ting] the ports you need," that would be fine advice. But it's not—it's about adding ports to your MacBook. So "Don't buy a [M]ac" isn't helpful advice in this context.

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