Hyperdrive, Thunderbolt USB-C hub for MacBook Pro

Ever since I got my swanking new MacBook Pro about a week ago, I had to deal with Thunderbolt 3 ports. The problem is, there is nothing I can do with Thunderbolt 3 ports on my MacBook Pro, since I have no peripherals at hand that uses them. So I can’t connect my external drives, my SD cards, charge my iPhone, or use my thumbdrives.

Getting the Hyperdrive Thunderbolt USB-C hub for the MacBook Pro seems like the most economical way to expand my ability to connect my ‘legacy’ devices using ‘legacy’ ports.

650dc514b27da7f2cbf564a3a6e07458_original

I purchased off from their Indiegogo website and within a week and a half it arrived at my doorstep. The Thunderbolt USB-C hub allows me to connect to an external monitor via HDMI, has an SD card and MicroSD card slot, and offers 2 USB 3.0 ports in addition to Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports just like what the MacBook Pro originally provided. The good thing about this hub is that it allows power passthrough, meaning you can charge the laptop while this hub is connected directly to it. The strange thing however, is that the hub uses both Thunderbolt ports to connect the hub. Once connected, only the top Thunderbolt port allows for charging and not the bottom one.

But still this hub greatly expanded my abilty to connect with other devices like I mentioned just now.

Another aspect of this hub that I really like is that the design of the hub is such that it sits flushed right next to the laptop. Buy the hub that matches the colour of your laptop, and it looked pretty natural – like an extension to your already great looking laptop. It doesn’t look bulky, or out of place and the build quality is pretty good, all aluminium, with pretty decent parts. Plus, it comes with a nice, snugly little leather pouch to safety store your hub away when not in use.

Dealing with such hubs can be annoying, but it is a necessity if you wish to walk down a path, using a laptop with nothing but Thunderbolt Ports. So for those who wish to walk down this path, know that you need a little bit more investment in choosing the right dongles or hub so that all your devices you currently have play nice with your new Macbook laptops. The Hyperdrive Thunderbolt USB-C hub manages to tick all the right things when it comes to portability, design and build quality without breaking the bank (US$69).

Advertisements

Google Chromecast (A quick impression)

130730122817-google-chromecast-620xa

On impulse, over the weekend, I bought the Google Chromecast. Not the new generation that was just announced about a week ago, but the little dongle that has been on the market for quite some time. Initially, I never really thought much about Chromecast, or its ability to make any TV with a spare HDMI slot transform into a truly smart TV. After all, its only main function is to push or handoff contents, be it music, or video or just about any other digital content to your TV. Using any smart devices at hand, either a tablet or smartphone, you can use that as your remote and push any supported content to your TV so long as the app in question supports it. A simple concept, but one that I underestimated its usefulness.

Now, after spending an afternoon with it and some of its various smartphone and tablet apps supporting chromecast, I must say, it is easily one of the best 65 bucks spend on a gadget. Coupled with Infuse app by Firecore, I can now push any video content from my WD MyCloud to my TV in a visually pleasing interface from either my smartphone or tablet. It is seamless, easy to use and mostly glitch free. And when I mention glitch free, it is true that it isn’t perfect, but far better than any other solutions out there in terms of costs.

The video streams smoothly to my TV with occasional stuttering and short pauses indicating buffering. I think this is due to certain video formats being handled by Chromecast. I am speculating here, but I think, that certain video formats are simply too demanding to be transmitted over wi-fi, due to its bandwidth demands. One thing I find strange though is that on newer devices such as the iPhone 6, the stuttering almost doesn’t occur when videos are being casted from it. But switching to an older model, like the iPhone 5, stuttering happens now and then. I am not sure if the devices capabilities are directly affecting the streaming quality, or if there are on-the-fly transcoding happening in the phone that the phone just couldn’t keep up when certain videos formats calls for on-the-fly transcoding. I am still quite hazy as to how Chromecast actually works in terms of where contenting is being push around and finally to the TV. It seems like battery drains noticeably when I used the app in the phone to push video streams to Chromecast dongle.

It is a minor gripe that happens only to small subset of video formats. Most of the time, it played fine, and I am happy with it. Video looks crisps, and the framerate being displayed on tv is of a much higher framerate. You can really tell the difference in the streaming quality that Chromecast is pushing to your TV.  It performs admirably.

I write a more detailed update when I have more time using it in the coming weeks. For now, allow me to enjoy my new gadget for the rest of the weekend.