After being introduced unceremoniously in the Retina Macbook and a handful of Windows laptops, USB Type-C (referred to as USB-C onward) has been gradually gaining a foothold in the world of universal connectors. Many companies, including Accell, are seeing the potential and their USB-C Mini Dock offers a unique solution for connecting multiple devices to one hub. And when you’ve got an enviously-thin machine but want to keep your existing gear, this is pretty critical.
There are a wealth of hubs to choose from that cover simple utility all the way up to absolute connectivity, so you’re literally swamped with choice. Accell in particular, prioritizes the basics and discreetness with their Mini Dock, which the size of the palm of your hand and fits easily in your pocket. A flat, foldable USB-C dongle conveniently hides into place when not in use, and has USB-A (keyboard/mouse/external HDD), HDMI 2.0 (monitor/4K TV), and USB-C (for pass-through source charging) all situated on one side.
Using the Mini Dock couldn’t be easier. Grab your micro-thin device of choice: a current Macbook, laptop (Lenovo Yoga 900, Dell XPS 13, Razer Blade Stealth, etc.), or smartphone (Nexus 6P, OnePlus 2, etc.) and plug it in. Now have a hub that gives you what you need when away from your desk or complimenting your workstation. Granted, it’s not the most robust hub but handles itself well and is perfectly fine if traveling light or discreetness is required.
Many won’t mind having one port each if they’re acquainted, although I sometimes found myself looking for at least another USB-A port when I wanted to hook up more than a mouse. This port is also capable of 0.5A charge output but is only USB 2.0 compliant for 480Mbps data transfers, so you might want to keep access of larger files down to a minimum.
HDMI is a feature that works as intended for screen mirroring or projection up to 4K/UHD. I used a Dell XPS 13 and the image appeared to be upscaled from the native 3200 x 1800 QHD+ resolution which isn’t bad, but not 4K. I expected as much since the Mini Dock is a bridge rather than image processor, so it’s going to depend on the display capabilities of the laptop source. Finally, the USB-C port on the dock is solely for charging (20V@3A) which Is ok, but it would’ve been nice if this doubled as another accessory port when your laptop battery is already full.
The biggest advantage of the Accell USB-C Mini Dock is its compact size. I like having the necessities at the ready, and its relative usefulness away from – and in addition to – the workspace is great. That said, adding at least one more USB-A port and opting for faster 3.0 specification would have made this package even sweeter. This criticism isn’t unreasonable since other travel-sized hubs do include these missing features at comparable prices, and looks like a missed opportunity on Accell’s part. Still, if you value a well-made USB-C hub for occasional usage, this is still a decent pick among the many also-rans.