Satechi Review: Type-C USB Hub is Hit-or-Miss, Smaller Adapter is Reliable

by

When Apple launched the new 12-inch MacBook earlier this year, some of the first accessories for the laptop -- which uses USB Type-C exclusively -- were various adapters and dongles that allowed customers to expand the initially limiting capabilities of the hardware with access to traditional USB, HDMI, and SD card ports. Apple itself launched a line of expansion cables for USB Type-C devices, and now third-party accessory company Satechi has its own Type-C line of USB hubs and adapters for customers to choose from.

Satechi Drive 1

Satechi's Type-C USB 3.0 3-in-1 Combo Hub

Satechi sent me two of the company's new accessories focusing on the connectivity between USB-C devices and more traditional inputs, mainly USB 3.0. One of the accessories is a complex "Hub" ($39.99, on sale for $34.99) with three USB 3.0 ports along with one SD and one microSD card slot, while the other is a simple dongle ($14.99) with a USB-C connector and a traditional USB-A 3.0 port. Each product comes in three different colors to match the shades of the new line of Retina MacBooks: Gunmetal (Space Gray), Gold, and Silver. Because neither dongle offers an additional USB-C port, there's no passthrough charging feature.

Satechi Drive 3

Satechi's Type-C USB Adapter

Overall, Satechi successfully mirrors Apple's visual aesthetic with the two accessories, and although I was sent Gold accessories that didn't exactly mesh well with my Space Gray MacBook, it seems when color-matched the new USB hubs would blend right in with their respective MacBooks.

With its most basic functions, the Satechi 3-in-1 Combo Hub provides simple USB-to-USB-C data transfer with little hassle. Once the Hub is plugged into a MacBook, a small light on the top of the accessory illuminates to confirm its activation, and users can then plug any USB 3.0 device into the accessory for access on the Retina MacBook. The Satechi Hub does accept SD cards and microSD cards but I had none on hand to test so can't confirm their functionality first-hand.

Satechi Drive 4
I'd say it's safe to assume the SD cards work as well as the USB ports on the Hub, but I ran into some noticeable issues with the accessory that may cause potential users cause for concern. First, Satechi's accessory is oddly choosy on which USB devices it accepts to work through the Hub. With three separate USB sticks and an Apple-branded USB SuperDrive to test out, I discovered that one USB stick and the Apple SuperDrive simply didn't work with the Hub.

When plugged into a separate computer both functioned normally, but plugged into the MacBook through the Satechi Hub, the USB drive never appeared on the MacBook. In a similar vein, the Apple USB SuperDrive repeatedly displayed caution messages reiterating the need for a separate power source to use the device, suggesting the Hub is limited in the amount of bus power it can provide. Essentially the only USB-related product I occasionally dust off is the SuperDrive, so it's particularly disappointing that Satechi's 3-in-1 Hub doesn't work with it. The Hub also tends to heat up with extended use, but it didn't appear to affect performance in my testing.

SAT DR
Second, the slender dongle raises some issues in its design: when plugged into the MacBook, the only anchor tethering it to the computer is the small USB-C connector. The Hub itself is just over 3.25 inches long and because of the MacBook's design has no extra support down the length of its side on the opposite end of the USB-C adapter. Although any harm is unlikely if handled with care, it certainly feels like there is potential for damage to either the Hub or the MacBook if the combination is held or picked up awkwardly and significant torque is applied to the connection.

Satechi Drive 7
Satechi's cheaper, smaller counterpart for the Hub is arguably a better accessory for users who need only a simple 1-to-1 device. I tested it out with the same USB sticks and USB SuperDrive, and everything worked without hassle. Apple's USB SuperDrive never gave a single error message as it did during my time with the Hub.

It's a smaller device, far more easily susceptible to loss (similar to SanDisk's Dual USB Drive), but at a low-entry price and economical functionality, it's arguably a better investment. Its only real downfall is that due to its small footprint, any leverage needed to remove a USB stick from its port will nearly always require users to first remove the entire adapter from the MacBook.

Satechi Drive 8
Satechi's 3-in-1 Hub is a bit more difficult to recommend. Although the two devices are meant for different people and purposes -- the Hub aimed at someone needing more connectivity, the simple dongle at more of a casual user -- there are just too many issues with the design and hit-or-miss execution of the Hub to recommend the $39.99 device even to those in need of its three USB ports.

On the other hand, the $14.99 Satechi dongle is one of the lowest cost USB to USB-C devices on the market, and functions as advertised. It also comes in about $5 under Apple's $19.99 version of the accessory, which is a bit longer with a slender white cable connecting the USB-C end with a USB port. Anyone in need of basic USB-to-USB-C adaptability, and who wants to save a little extra money, would do well to look into Satechi's simpler Type-C USB Adapter.

Both of Satechi's accessories are available to purchase from the company's official website, although a few of the Hubs (Gold and Gunmetal) are currently unavailable.

Top Rated Comments

Gudi Avatar
68 months ago
I hate it. So ugly in both color and form factor. Apples white plastic adapter already looks much nicer.



I'd rather buy a big stationary docking station for the MacBook than this fancy USB hub.

Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jonny1989 Avatar
68 months ago

Jeez.. talk about serious workarounds..
The need for such an adapter surely proves that Apple is wrong about customers wanting a laptop with no useful ports on it.

The need for eyelashes on womens cars does not prove car manufactures are wrong about customers wanting a car without headlight eye lashes. I've had a macbook for 5 years and it's not had a disk or usb in either of them. This will be for people who need this for whatever reason, may it be they bought the macbook that doesn't suit them or they only need it rarely.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
alphaod Avatar
68 months ago
In other words, it's terrible.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BMcCoy Avatar
68 months ago
Jeez.. talk about serious workarounds..
The need for such an adapter surely proves that Apple is wrong about customers wanting a laptop with no useful ports on it.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DennisD7 Avatar
68 months ago
Just give me a USB-C hub/dongle with a long cable so I can hide it all under my desk. This is an extremely neat solution just waiting to happen, I don't know why it's so hard to figure out. Clean desk, one cable, I plug in my laptop and bam, I have keyboard/screen/mouse/charging/etc
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nick42983 Avatar
68 months ago

The need for eyelashes on womens cars does not prove car manufactures are wrong about customers wanting a car without headlight eye lashes. I've had a macbook for 5 years and it's not had a disk or usb in either of them. This will be for people who need this for whatever reason, may it be they bought the macbook that doesn't suit them or they only need it rarely.

LOL like there is any comparison between eyelashes on cars and USB ports on computers. "may it be" said that you're on the radical fringe pretending like it's normal.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
2019 mac pro side and front

Tim Cook Gifted Donald Trump 'First' 2019 Mac Pro

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:45 pm PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook gifted former United States President Donald Trump with the first 2019 Mac Pro that came off of the assembly line in Austin, Texas, according to a financial disclosure report that was released today (via The Verge). "Mac Pro Computer, the first created at the Flex Factory in Austin, Texas," reads the entry, which values the machine at $5,999, the base price for a Mac Pro....
Apple VR Feature

Bloomberg: Apple's First AR/VR Headset 'Pricey, Niche Precursor' to More Ambitious AR Glasses and Could Launch Next Year

Thursday January 21, 2021 3:27 am PST by
Apple's first virtual reality headset will be a "pricey, niche precursor" to a more ambitious augmented reality product, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view...
Flat MacBook Air Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on 'Thinner and Lighter' High-End MacBook Air With MagSafe, Could Launch in Second Half of 2021

Friday January 22, 2021 3:34 am PST by
Apple is working on a "thinner and lighter" version of the MacBook Air that the company plans to release during the second half of this year at the earliest or in 2022, according to a new report by well-connected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. It will include Apple's MagSafe charging technology and a next-generation version of the company's in-house Mac processors. Apple has discussed...
iOS 15 icon mock banner

iOS 15 Rumored to Drop Support for iPhone 6s and 2016 iPhone SE

Thursday January 21, 2021 11:58 am PST by
Apple's upcoming iOS 15 operating system, which we expect to see unveiled in June, is rumored to be dropping support for a few of Apple's older iPhones. According to French site iPhoneSoft, iOS 15 will not be able to be installed on the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 6s Plus, or the 2016 iPhone SE, all of which have an A9 chip. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were introduced in 2015 and are now more...
iphone 12 vs iphone 12 mini

Apple Shifting Some Production From iPhone 12 mini to iPhone 12 Pro to Meet Demand

Wednesday January 20, 2021 8:12 am PST by
Apple has reportedly cut production of the iPhone 12 mini by two million units to create more manufacturing capacity for the iPhone 12 Pro, according to a new Morgan Stanley investment note seen by PED30. Apple is believed to have made the switch for the first quarter of 2021 in an effort to combat continuing lead times for the more popular iPhone 12 Pro. iPhone 12 Pro lead times remain ...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Pro Model Cameras to Use Larger Image Sensor

Thursday January 21, 2021 1:38 am PST by
Apple's iPhone 13 series will feature a redesigned Face ID system that will allow for a smaller notch at the top of the screen, according to a new report today. The rumor comes via hit-and-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, whose supply chain sources also claim that the ultra wide-angle lens in Apple's next-generation iPhones is due for an upgrade. The next-generation iPhones'...
maxresdefault

Video Demos macOS Catalina Running on iPad Pro via x86 Emulation

Thursday January 21, 2021 11:36 am PST by
A video demonstrating macOS Catalina running on a current 2020 iPad Pro has been shared on YouTube, giving us a look at an interesting hack that has a Mac OS up and working on one of Apple's iPads. There's limited information about how the process of getting macOS Catalina on an iPad Pro works, but it uses x86 emulation and was done through the UTM software that allows virtual machines to...
iOS 14

Apple Seeds iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 Release Candidate to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Thursday January 21, 2021 10:14 am PST by
Apple today seeded the RC version of upcoming iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the new betas coming a week after Apple released the second betas. iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper profile has been installed on an iPhone or iPad. Paired with the HomePod 14.4 beta that is...
iPhone OIS Feature2

Sensor-Shift Camera Stabilization Rumored to Expand to Entire iPhone 13 Lineup

Wednesday January 20, 2021 7:46 am PST by
The entire iPhone 13 lineup will feature sensor-shift optical image stabilization, compared to only the iPhone 12 Pro Max among current models, according to a brief story preview shared today by Taiwanese publication DigiTimes. "Apple's next-generation iPhones slated for launch in the second half of 2021 will all come with sensor-shift stabilization technology, according to industry...