How many dongles?

Test your gadget know-how with our pop quiz

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Consumer technology has brought accessibility, efficiency, and simplicity to our daily lives. But now we are just as often faced with interoperability. New features and hardware often mean new ports and standards. Even if you have the means to keep all your gear up to date, there are still gaps in compatibility — whether it’s transferring data, using outdated equipment, or simply listening to music.

To keep using products made obsolete by newer technology, you might need to buy an additional cable, adapter, or converter box. We live in the future, and it’s a pile of dongles.

Sometimes the solution is not so simple, so The Verge has assembled a test to help you prepare for your next dongle dilemma. 

Please answer the following questions with the fewest dongles needed to perform the action. 

Note: we’re being liberal with the definition of dongle here. We consider a cable or an adapter to be a kind of dongle.

1. You want to listen to the remastered version of Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction at a 96kHz sample rate on your iPhone XS Max with your Grado SR325 headphones while you are being driven to a family reunion out West. How many dongles will you need?

That’s correct!

Here’s what you can use:

  1. Lightning DAC ($199 on Amazon)
  2. 3.5 mm to ¼-inch adapter ($14.95 from B&H)

The correct answer is two.

Here’s what you can use:

  1. Lightning DAC ($199 on Amazon)
  2. 3.5 mm to ¼-inch adapter ($14.95 from B&H)

2. Your uncle asks you to digitize his record collection of Beatles stereo remasters using the 2020 iPad Pro you got him for Christmas. You dust off his record player. There is an RCA output and no preamp. How many dongles will you need?

That’s correct!

Here’s what you can use:

  1. Behringer U-Phono UFO202 USB/Audio Interface with Built-in Phono Preamp ($38 on Amazon
  2. USB-A to USB-C ($18.73 from B&H)

The correct answer is two.

Here’s what you can use:

  1. Behringer U-Phono UFO202 USB/Audio Interface with Built-in Phono Preamp ($38 on Amazon
  2. USB-A to USB-C ($18.73 from B&H)

3. You are visiting your parents after you have all received the coronavirus vaccine, but you weren’t able to get time off from work. You set up your office on their kitchen table. In order to do your job efficiently, you need a second monitor to hook up to your 2017 Windows Surface Laptop. You look around your parents’ house and the only monitor available is a 1976 Zenith 10-inch CRT. How many dongles will you need? Hint: the only input on this TV is flat antenna leads.

That’s correct!

Here’s what you can use:

  1. Antenna transformer to coax ($4.98 at Lowe’s
  2. HDMI to coaxial RF converter ($43.49 on Amazon)
  3. Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter ($15.91 on Amazon)

The correct answer is three.

Here’s what you can use:

  1. Antenna transformer to coax ($4.98 at Lowe’s
  2. HDMI to coaxial RF converter ($43.49 on Amazon)
  3. Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter ($15.91 on Amazon)

4. Your cousin has flown in to visit you this weekend. Upon her arrival, she confides in you that she left her headphones at the Margaritaville at her departure airport. She was really looking forward to listening to the new Fiona Apple album on her Microsoft Zune while you are busy catching up on The Good Wife on Paramount Plus. The only set of headphones you can lend her are Beats Powerbeats wireless earbuds. How many dongles will you need?

That’s correct!

Here’s what you can use:

  1. 3.5mm Bluetooth adapter (Twelve South AirFly $30.07 at B&H)

The correct answer is one.

Here’s what you can use:

  1. 3.5mm Bluetooth adapter (Twelve South AirFly $30.07 at B&H)

5. You’re running late for your son’s baptism. Your boss just called you and said that you need to upload your footage from a tech event of a new phone with three screens (front, back, and pop-out). If you hardwire your internet connection to your laptop, you may be able to upload it before the ceremony starts. You have a 2012 MacBook Pro. How many dongles will you need?

That’s correct!

There is an Ethernet port, hallelujah.

The correct answer is zero.

There is an Ethernet port, hallelujah.

6. You are preparing a Twitch stream on a 2020 MacBook Pro. Your loyal subscribers are requesting you play Jet Set Radio on your Dreamcast. You’re using a RodeCaster Pro with an Electro-Voice RE27 for your audio, a Logitech C920 HD Pro webcam for video, and a Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Express to plug your Sega Dreamcast into. You need to make sure you are plugged into your modem so you don’t drop frames. The graphical assets of your stream are stored on a LaCie external hard drive. How many dongles will you need?

That’s correct!

Here’s what you can use:

  1. Satechi Aluminum Multi-Port Adapter V2 ($79.99 on Amazon)
  2. Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 Adapter ($49 from B&H)

The correct answer is two.

Here’s what you can use:

  1. Satechi Aluminum Multi-Port Adapter V2 ($79.99 on Amazon)
  2. Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 Adapter ($49 from B&H)

7. Your childhood best friend Tina found all the old videos that you filmed together on her Canon miniDV camcorder. In order to get the videos off the camcorder, she needs to connect the mini Firewire port from the camera to her Dell XPS 2-in-1 laptop (2020). How many dongles will she need?

That’s correct

Here’s what you can use:

  1. Four-pin mini Firewire 400 (also known as IEEE 1394) to Firewire 800 cable ($9.55 on Amazon)
  2. Firewire 800 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter ($29 from Apple)
  3. Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter ($49 from B&H)

The correct answer is three.

Here’s what you can use:

  1. Four-pin mini Firewire 400 (also known as IEEE 1394) to Firewire 800 cable ($9.55 on Amazon)
  2. Firewire 800 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter ($29 from Apple)
  3. Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter ($49 from B&H)

8. Your video producer Phil says he needs you to record Samsung’s live presentation debuting a new Bixby-powered washing machine so you can edit a supercut of the event for your team’s YouTube channel. He gives you the following: a MacBook to play the live stream, an UltraStudio Mini Recorder to record the output of the MacBook, and an iMac to ingest the video so you can edit it. How many dongles will you need?

That’s correct (kind of)!

Here’s what you can use:

1. USB-C to HDMI adapter ($67.11 from B&H)
HDMI cable into the UltraStudio
Thunderbolt 2 out of the UltraStudio
2. Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter ($44.95 from Amazon)

The correct answer is two (kind of).

Here’s what you can use:

1. USB-C to HDMI adapter ($67.11 from B&H)
HDMI cable into the UltraStudio
Thunderbolt 2 out of the UltraStudio
2. Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter ($44.95 from Amazon)

9. Your spouse’s relatives from West Virginia were not able to attend your wedding. You want to send them a copy of the wedding video so they can watch it. They live in an area without reliable broadband and prefer you send them a copy of the video in the mail. They own a Betamax player only. You have the video on your Lenovo Chromebook Duet and managed to find a Betamax player with the record function on Craigslist. How many dongles will you need?

That’s correct!

Here’s what you can use:

  1. Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to HDMI adapter ($67.11 on B&H)
  2. HDMI to composite RCA box ($14.39 on Newegg)

The correct answer is two.

Here’s what you can use:

  1. Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to HDMI adapter ($67.11 on B&H)
  2. HDMI to composite RCA box ($14.39 on Newegg)

10. You finally upgraded your computer and just got the new M1 Mac Mini from the Apple Store. You didn’t want to spend the extra money getting a new monitor, but all you have is an Apple Cinema Display from 2006. How many dongles will you need to hook this up?

That’s correct!

Here’s what you can use:

1: USB C to Dual Link DVI Active Adapter ($34.99 on Amazon)

The correct answer is one.

Here’s what you can use:

1: USB C to Dual Link DVI Active Adapter ($34.99 on Amazon)

You got 0 out of 10 right!


Design and layout: William Joel
Copy editing: Adia Watts
Distribution: Esther Cohen

Correction: An earlier version of this quiz listed the Grado SR325e headphones in question number one. It should have said Grado SR325 instead. We regret the error but will not be able to give you points back if you got it wrong as a result.