After a rough infancy of scattered compliance and confusing specs, USB-C is starting to, well, work. Most notably, USB-C PD (power delivery) has rescued our Nintendo Switch batteries, fast-charges our iPhone Xs (irony, yes), and at long last given us portable fast charging for the juice-hungry 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Griffin’s new Universal USB-C Docking Station (as spotted by 9to5Mac) adheres to the USB-C PD 2.0 spec, and provides up to 85W of power (Apple’s official charger for the 15-inch MBP does 87W). The dock provides a Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB-A 3.0 ports, HDMI, and an audio jack.
That’s not a lot of connectivity for $199. In comparison, OWC’s $299 dock includes some nice-to-haves like S/PDIF and FireWire 800, extra Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, and, most importantly, an SD card reader. Unfortunately, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock only provides 60W for laptop charging. Elgato’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock has 85W charging and a bunch of ports, but it costs $275 and also doesn’t include an SD card reader.
All of these options are an expensive way to make your laptop “whole,” while also offering a convenient plug-and-play scenario. One cable charges your laptop and also powers your USB hub, peripherals, and external monitor. The dream! An expensive dream, as it turns out.
I’m sure we’re only a few years away from Apple selling us a MacBook Pro that’s merely an inert slab of aluminum etched with an Apple logo, whose utility will be entirely reliant on dongles, docks, and the good graces of Griffin, OWC, and Elgato. I guess I’ll start saving my pennies.