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OWC's USB-C multiport hub is constructed like a tank [Review]

The OWC USB-C Travel Dock has five ports to extend the capabilities of your MacBook or iPad Pro, including HDMI and dual USB-A. Wrapped around these is a casing of aluminum and plastic thick enough to stand up to the kind of punishment many of us subject our gear to. Yet it still looks professional.

We used this multiport hub on several business trips. Here’s how it came through.

OWC USB-C Travel Dock review

Putting only USB-C ports in MacBooks allows them to be very sleek, but it forces anyone who wants to use USB-A accessories or an external display to use adapters. Naturally, these adapters have to go almost everywhere with the computer, so it’s very helpful if they’re designed to take some punishment.

All the edges and corners of the OWC USB-C Travel Dock are covered in a relatively thick layer of aluminum. It’s not so tough you could hammer a nail with it, but it should easily survive riding around in a backpack with some hefty textbooks. It’s certainly the toughest such hub we’ve ever used.

The USB-C connector is on the end of a 6-inch cable. This is long enough that this hub can be easily used with an iPad Pro with an Apple Smart Keyboard attached, not just a MacBook.

And the cable is thick enough to feel like it can put up with long use. Especially as it can be inserted into a slot on the bottom of this accessory so it’s protected in transit.

Please note that there’s an earlier (and cheaper) version of this product that doesn’t include built-in cable storage. Be sure you’re buying the one you want.

OWC USB-C Travel Dock review
OWC’s USB-C Travel Dock has the ports many people need on the go.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

There’s a downside to this accessory’s ruggedness: the Travel Dock is the opposite of slim and light. It’s 3.2 inches square and 0.9 in. thick. It weighs in just under 0.4 pounds. It fits well in that backpack mentioned earlier, but is not pocketable.

The combination of space-grey aluminum and black plastic makes this accessory match well with a MacBook or iPad Pro. It would look right at home on an executive’s desk, despite its toughness.

Ports

The OWC USB-C Travel Dock has five ports:

USB-A: Two of these are USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, allowing a range of accessories to be plugged in, like external drives and keyboards. Either of these ports can transfer data at up to 5Gbps.

SD: There’s also a full-size SD card reader, useful for copying images from a camera onto a Mac or iPad. There’s no microSD slot so you’ll need an adapter.

HDMI: Anyone wanting to give a presentation from their MacBook or just use a larger screen is likely to need an HDMl port, and the Travel Dock delivers 4K.

USB-C: The USB-C port is entirely to pass power to the host computer. It can handle up to 100W for fast recharges.

This is a useful collection of ports, but there are multi-port adapters with far more. Most notably, OCW didn’t include an Ethernet port, while many of its rivals do.

OWC Dock Ejector

The Travel Dock enables a Mac to connect to two external drives and an SD card all at once. Safely disconnecting from all of these doesn’t have to be a hassle with OWC Dock Ejector, a macOS (or Windows) app that ensures that data transfers are finished before disks are unmounted.

iPad Pro users will just have to be careful.

OWC USB-C Travel Dock performance

We put the Travel Dock through extensive testing simply by using as our USB-C hub for several weeks. It delivered everything we asked it to.

There were no problems transferring files betweem USB drives. The same goes for moving files off an SD card.

We hooked a keyboard and mouse to it, and they performed flawlessly.

Streaming a movie from a thumbdrive to a TV through the HDMI port went off without a hitch.

OWC USB-C Travel Dock
This Travel Dock can store its USB-C cable in a protective groove.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

OWC USB-C Travel Dock final thoughts

OWC’s multi-port hub manages to be relatively rugged while maintaining a professional look.

The Travel Dock has the ports most people need to add to their MacBook or iPad Pro, if not as many as some rivals. Still, those other hubs almost always cost more than OWC’s, and people who don’t need additional USB-A ports or Ethernet can save some money.

Pricing

OWC’s official price for the USB-C Travel Dock is $54.99

Buy from: OWC — $54.99

 

Comparable products

The Satechi Aluminum USB-C Multiport Pro Adapter ($64.95) has a similar collection of ports and is a bit more portable. It’s not as rugged, though.

Those looking for additional ports should consider the rival the Twelve South StayGo ($99.99) which has three USB-A ports, SD/microSD, Ethernet and more.

OWC provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.



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