Multiport USB-C Chargers and Hubs

2020-10-18, by Dmitri Zdorov

Multiport USB-C Chargers and Hubs

USB 3 Type C, or simple USB-C, was introduced many years ago. The first device was a tablet by Nokia, closely followed by Apple with Mac Book. This single-port ultra-light laptop was truly adorable but underpowered and had only a single port for both charging and accessories. Not a very convenient limitation, you might notice.

Then it was also expanded, and another standard adapted the port — Thunderbolt 3. Great promise, single compact, symmetrical port for all the needs: Power up to 100W, Video, data, etc. But as we all know, in a way, it's a failure. Because it all looks the same, yet not all devices, cables, and accessories support all possible features of USB-C, it's hard to know what is supported. I am surprised that at least a simple color scheme was not introduced, like black for Thunderbolt 3 speeds, USB 3.2 speeds, Video, and 100w power delivery, then gray for just 100W power, dark green for only Thunderbolt, navy blue for USB 3.2, blue for USB 3.0, light blue for 2.0, etc. In other words, the complete lack of common sense, pretty much like lots of missed opportunities for a good UX. With Apple finally providing Lightning to USB-C cables for all new iPhones around 2020, I'm not able to buy a simple multiport charger that would allow me to plug in more than one USB-C cable in order to charge my devices at once. Fast forward to 2020, Apple finally providing Lightning to USB-C cable for all new iPhones, but I can't really go and buy a simple multiport charger that would let me plug a bunch of USB-C cables and charge my devices using only one electrical outlet.

There is a huge demand, the market is ready. But we see a complete failure of supply. This happens left and right. Invisible hand fixes things when there is enough commotion, but markets stay empty for years or even decades when it is too little. Usually, it manifests in a lack of design. When all heads of manufacturing parties would say that "in our particular case design is not that important and customers are looking for lower prices and new features," what usually means that they have no taste themselves and too greedy and shortsighted to pay for a decent designer, and ready to add dark pattern features that would help them extract more money from customers that have few alternatives.

Basically, Apple is one of the guilty parties. They decided to push hard, removed quite used and useful ports from all new portables, and totally failed to provide some essential accessories. I understand that their plan was to expect that third parties would do that. But I, as a user, do not care. If small vendors do not make it, the first party should make it long enough for the market to mature. I understand that there could be some technical difficulties, but come on, fix it.

And actually, I really think it's difficult or just expensive to make an outstanding all-powerful and convenient multiport hub that can charge many devices and provide excellent data throughput. But a simple, compact 5 port charger can power a couple of smartphones, and maybe a smartwatch, headphones, and a power bank that should be totally doable. I simply can do it now, in a very inelegant way, but taking my 5-year-old 5 port USB-A charger and plugging 5 little USB-A Male to USB-C Female adapters. It's just idiotic that it's so easy and yet so hard to buy something that has it done right.

Tags: hw, ideas, gadgets

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