All The Dongles!

There’s been lots of talk about the new MacBook Pro’s lack of “legacy” ports and the need for a slew of “dongles” to adapt existing technology to the new MacBook Pros.

My new MacBook pro is currently “Preparing for Shipment” and is expected to arrive sometime this week. At this moment, I don’t have a single USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 device that I can natively use with it. Everything I connect will have to be adapted in some way to work with my new MacBook Pro.

It’s frustrating, but it’s also the Apple way. In fact, I seriously considered canceling my MacBook Pro order and perhaps keeping my current Air and buying a desktop iMac while I wait a few years for things to settle down or my workflow to change. Ultimately, I decided to stick with my plan of using a laptop as my primary home machine and keep the MacBook Pro. If you’re in the same boat as I am, I thought I’d offer up this list of “dongles” and cables I’ve bought to allow my new MacBook Pro to fit into my life:

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Rankie 2-Pack Hi-speed USB-C to USB-A 3.0 ($7.99) - These adapters will convert USB-C ports to more standard USB-A ports. Although I don’t have any experience with the manufacturer, they come well reviewed on Amazon and the price was right. At $7.99 for a 2-pack I purchased four adapters in total. Since USB-A is probably the most common connector on devices I own (flash drives, hard drives, etc.) I wanted to make sure that I kept one of these adapters in each of my travel bags and a spare at the office so I would never be without.

Update: The Rankie dongles only had about a 50% success rate. Two of the Four adapters I received would  not power a 2.5" USB hard drive. The other two worked fine.  I returned the two flakey dongles and instead bought two of Apple's first party adapters, especially considering they were on sale for $10. When the seller saw my 3-star review posted on Amazon mentioning the inconsistent performance of the adapters they refunded my money for all four adapters.

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USB 3.1 Type C to Type B Cable ($8.99) - I intend to use this cable to replace the USB-A to USB-B cable on my existing USB 3.0 Hub. At my desk at home I have a number of USB-A devices including a ScanSnap, several hard drives, DVD-burner, iPhones, iPads and the like all connected to a single USB 3.0 Hub. Rather than trying to replace all these devices or buy adapters, I realized the easiest thing to do was buy a replacement cable for my existing USB hub. Now, swapping a single cable should make everything plugged into the hub compatible with my new MacBook Pro.

USB 2.0 Type C to Type B Cable ($7.99) - This cable is similar to the one mentioned above - however it is an older-style USB 2.0 cable and has a slightly different connector at the USB-B end. Most people think of this as a “printer cable” but it’s the same cable I use to connect my Rode Podcaster microphone. I'll use this to replace the existing cable on my microphone for use when podcasting.

Belkin USB Type C to VGA Adapter ($28.99) - This adapter is still unfortunately a necessary evil. I regularly give presentations with my Mac in places that have older projectors so having a VGA adapter in my bag is a must. I opted for the Belkin adapter as it’s a single-purpose adapter and less expensive than the Apple multi-port adapter that includes VGA.

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Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter ($49.00) - As noted above, I regularly give presentations with my MacBook Pro and thus a USB-C to HDMI adapter is a must. I was looking at third-party solutions, but when Apple dropped the price on their adapter I opted to go first-party for this one. This adapter will be a good addition to my travel bag because it comes not only with an HDMI adapter but also USB-A.

Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter ($29.99) - This adapter is the one that gives me the most concern and will perhaps be returned. I bought this adapter for a specific purpose - to temporarily connect my Apple 24" Cinema Display with DisplayPort (not Thunderbolt) since the new LG displays won’t be available for a few months. Unfortunately, according to Apple’s support site the Thunderbolt 3 adapter is not compatible with Apple DisplayPort displays. My saving grace might be that I connect my DisplyPort display through a Belkin Thunderbolt Dock (1st Gen) but at this point I’m not holding my breath that it will work.

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LG UltraFine 5k Display ($974.00) - Okay, this one may not technically qualify in my list of “dongles” but nevertheless it was a purchase that was based on the purchase of the new MacBook Pro. This new MacBook Pro is my first Retina machine, therefore it really doesn’t make sense to use it with a non-retina monitor. As noted above, my existing display is not compatible anyway. While there are certainly less expensive 4k and 5k monitors that can be used with the MacBook Pro, this is the one that is most similar to the Apple Cinema Display that I am replacing including built-in power, FaceTime Camera and USB-C ports.