REVIEW – Adding ports for a laptop or tablet that needs more connectivity options is part of Gadgeteer life. There’s even a name for it: DongleTown. Many newer laptops and tablets have USB-C ports (maybe exclusively), but you have an entire collection of things that predate this plug, but need to use them. You can carry a bag full of adapters, or you can invest in a travel USB-C adapter. IOGear recently sent us their Travel Pro USB-C Mini Dock, and I have found it to be an express ticket out of DongleTown. Let’s take a closer look.
What is it?
An unpowered USB-C hub that has ports for USB-A, HDMI, sound, and USB-C power pass-through.
What’s in the box?
- Travel Pro USB-C Mini Dock
- Quick Start Guide
- Warranty Card
- Video Output HDMI Up to 4K @ 60hz
- Audio Output 1x Mic/Audio Combo
- USB-A 1x USB 2.0
- Downstream USB-C Port (Charging only Up to 60W)
- Height 1.22″
- Depth 0.31″
- Length 2.8″
Design and features
The design of the Travel Pro mini hub is simple. The unit is 2.8″ x 1.22″ x .31″. There’s a USB-C plug centered on one long edge of it and four ports spaced out along the opposite edge. That’s it. The size belies it’s weight at 1.25 ounces (36 grams). The sides are flat right angles to the top and bottom, with rounded corners all ‘round.
With the plug centered, this is going to block other ports on devices with multiple ports on one side unless there is more than 1.25″ between the two ports. By having the pass-through power and video out ports, in addition to a USB port that can handle external media or input devices, you probably won’t miss that second USB-C port. (If you’re someone who regularly needs many more ports than these, IO Gear makes larger docking stations for those who want to wring all the power from their devices with add-ones, especially those that have two adjacent ports. This one, however, is for travel.)
- Ultra-portability packed with functional feature set
- Charge your USB-C device (laptop) with up to 60W PD pass-through
- Supports video resolutions up to 4K @60Hz via dock’s HDMI® port
- Single USB-A port supports a flash drive or other device
- A 3.5mm jack connects a wired headphones or headset
- Capable of simultaneous charging and A/V output.
- Universal design allows connection to any USB-C device
- Compatible with iPad Pro
I tested the Travel Pro on a new 12.9” iPad Pro 2020 with an HP monitor that is usually connected to my Mac mini through HDMI. It works as expected, although I’ll like it more when iPad OS finally allows us to use external monitors to extend, rather than just mirroring. I found the AUX connection a bit temperamental. I was using a set of wired Apple Earbuds, and had to really jam them into the port to make the sound not play through the iPad speakers. Also, the inline volume control and play/pause control doesn’t work on the iPad. Also, if I happened to plug into an HDMI display while using earbuds, the sound was routed to the display system, and there was no obvious way to get it back to the other port.
What I like
- Small, but has several popular ports
- Unpowered operation means fast deployment
- Driverless operation, no configuration
What I’d change
- HDMI forces audio through display, rather than using Audio port
- Audio port doesn’t respond to inline controls
The world is moving forward to USB-C. Finally. I’ve been frustrated by every USB device I’ve ever used for a single reason: I almost always try to plug it in upside down. Since I’ve started using USB-C, obviously, this hasn’t happened once. Being a longtime Lightning cable user, I have long ago appreciated the benefits of the no-orientation-difficulties lifestyle. This is the first dock/port extender I’ve used with my new iPad Pro, so I’ve been really pleased that it is just as magic-feeling as the hype promises. Sound issues notwithstanding, having a single unit that provides larger display and USB, as well as allowing charging, is pretty nice in such a small, inexpensive device.
The IO Gear Travel Pro mini dock is a solid little hub that will quickly earn a place in the bag of anyone who travels and presents. Being able to quickly add an HDMI, AUX, or USB port to your phone, tablet, or laptop is huge when you’re needing to set up in a new place, or even just showing your vacation shots to family on your TV.