Dongleworld? We’ve Always Lived in Dongleworld

Posted on November 6, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware, Microsoft Surface, Mobile, Windows 10, Windows Phones with 72 Comments

Dongleworld? We've Always Lived in Dongleworld

Oh no! It’s a dongle!?!

The FUD I see around the move to USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 is overwhelming but is likewise without merit. Folks, dongles are nothing new. And the benefits of USB-C/Thunderbolt are undeniable.

Dieter Bohn just wrote about this topic for The Verge, but I thought I’d present a more PC-centric view here: Dieter is one of the good guys, but he’s also made the conscious decision to live in the future, and his Mac-centric computing ways may make his message less welcome in these parts. I want to assure those of you living in the past—that is, those still clinging to old-school PCs with non-touch screens and legacy ports—that you don’t have fear that future.

Because you don’t.

Granted, I just wrote about this in Welcome to the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 Era too. But one of the issues I didn’t address there was that the worry over dongles is misplaced. There is nothing unique about the dongles you will or will not need with USB-C/Thunderbolt, but there is one thing that is quite unique about USB-C/Thunderbolt: For the first time ever, we have a single connector that replaces everything.

But, please. Let’s talk dongles. You know, those annoyances that just make USB-C so unbearable. For some reason.

This is the ASUS Zenbook UX31E. It’s the first Ultrabook ever made, and the first PC that took on the MacBook Air from a looks and form factor perspective. It dates back to 2011, the year after the current-generation MacBook Air first shipped, and it has a combination of ports: USB 2.0 and SD on the side you can’t see. And USB 3.0, mini-VGA, and microHDMI on this side.

asus

Both of those video-out ports—mini-VGA and microHDMI—will require a special cable of some kind, since both are actually pretty rare even today. But more likely, you’ll need a dongle for either. For example, a microHDMI to full-sized HDMI so you can use that weird little port with the HDMI type that is commonly available. This situation was so obvious to ASUS that they even gave Zenbook UX31E a little goody bag that included two dongles: USB 2.0 to Ethernet and mini-VGA to full-sized VGA.

Which reminds me. Anyone with a modern PC Ultrabook will probably need a USB-to-Ethernet dongle if they intend to wired up their device. I travel with one that’s part of a USB hub in order to use more USB peripherals with USB port-constrained devices like Microsoft’s Surface tablets.

Let’s look at one more example. ASUS might have been first out of the game in copying Apple’s MacBook Air, but Samsung really nailed it with its Series 9 Ultrabooks. I still own both 13- and 15-inch versions of this incredible device, and here’s the 13-inch version. Like the ASUS before it, it has one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port. But it offers miniHDMI (as opposed to microHDMI) for video-out, and it has proprietary ports for Ethernet and a second video-out. Dongles everywhere, but in this case you need Samsung dongles.

sam

USB-C is an improvement over everything that came before. Everything. And it benefits everyone, even when you factor in dongles. Which again, is nothing new.

But the dongle situation is better with USB-C than it was in the past. It’s a standard, so everyone is using it everywhere, on PCs, on tablets, and on phones. (The only exception is the iPhone, which is ironic or whatever. Who cares?) Device makers no longer need to make their own power supplies, plugs, and connectors. They no longer need to worry about proprietary plugs or ports of any kinds. And you, as the consumer, can simply focus on the one true standard.

Yes, for the short term, you will need to deal with dongles, and even with minor inconveniences like sub-standard USB-C parts from faceless Asian budget retailers. But unlike in the past, this situation really is short-term: Soon, everything will simply use USB-C connectors: Your next display, your next storage device, your next whatever. And if you buy carefully, you can put one foot in the past and one in the future: For example, HP’s excellent new Spectre x360 offers a USB 3.0 port and two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports. Bam.

Put simply, dongles are nothing new, we’ve been dealing with them for years. We should view USB-C/Thunderbolt as the end of Dongleworld, not some terrible new era of dongles. This is about moving forward, not about complicating your life. And hopefully, this is the end of the dongle conversation.

 

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Comments (72)

72 responses to “Dongleworld? We’ve Always Lived in Dongleworld”

  1. Avatar

    8107

    I look forward to the iPhone 8 abandoning the Lightning connector and moving to USB-C/Thunderbolt. Then we'll know we're moving forward.

  2. Avatar

    4288

    Let's make a working assumption that I possess the peripherals I need already and have been plugging them in via USB-A.

    Right now, if I purchased a laptop with legacy ports, all my peripherals would continue to work, nothing would have to change.

    If I purchased a USB-C laptop, I would have to live #dongelife until such time as my peripherals were naturally worn down and replaced with new USB-C ones. (I wouldn't want to have to buy new peripherals early just to get rid of the dongles).

    The longer and longer life cycle of laptops and peripherals is why, although USB-C is a great idea; it really should be a ten year journey and Apple's forcing of it isn't just early, it's premature. 

    The other thing Paul's article doesn't really address is that the capability of the port depends on what capabilities the motherboard controller has. E.g. on the Macbook Pro, the left side has faster ports than the right side. Then there's confusion around thunderbolt vs mini-displayport and other alternate modes. Unless everyone adopts every standard possible for USB-C; there's going to be this journey to figure out what a port can and can't do and that's going to be massively confusing to normals who are used to 1:1 between connectors and protocols

    • Avatar

      1753

      In reply to BigM72:

      For me, the use of dongles isn't the problem, it is the lack of dongles in the box. Asus had the right idea by including a couple of the most common dongles in the box. I think if Apple and Co. included a USB-C to USB-A dongle or a voucher for a couple of dongles in the box, there wouldn't be much to complain about. 

      But paying over $2000 for a notebook and then having to invest in either a plethora of dongles or new peripherals, just because you can't plug them in is not good.

  3. Avatar

    6844

    The fact that it's not new doesn't mean it's acceptable. I've no problem with new standards....but something so ubiquitous as USB need to be phased out not just swapped out.

    • Avatar

      5485

      In reply to kenhes:

      It is being phased out. That is why adapters for legacy tech is supported.

      This  just a temporary solution. As such I agree with you that its not a perfect solution, but a the alternative leads to a far slower adoption and drags down innovation.

      For instance I wish TV manufacturers, gaming consoles and so on and so forth  drop HDMI for this. Imagine all you need is a cable that connects your setopbox, console or whatever to TV, One single cable. No more a cable for optical audio output, power, and display out put. Its the perfect plug and play solution. Also think the potential of TV's with integrated GPU units.

      This is just the beginning to a simpler cable connectivity world. What Apple sampled with the new MacBook Pro connected to the new LG TV over USB-C is the model to follow and will spread across multiple areas, not just connecting a PC to a monitor. It works really well. This is not beta tech, with rings around it!!!!

      Considering that whoever follows the tech world so closely are enthusiasts of some form, I don't get why all the heat? If it did not work, I would understand, but if it works, why is this so bad son on and so forth? The inconvenience is really minor considering the current status quo.

      This is the same thing when Apple dropped floppy disks, DVD/CD players ... Critics of the Windows PC world came out ithe same kind of observations, if it was not dongles was something else, like external DVD/CD players, floppy drives ... etc etc. But now, all that is past and Apple and still they argue that the company did not innovate, did push for innovation across the board, did nothing for those Apple angry people. Its really a simple step, rather than dreaming with mirages such as the HoloLens.

  4. Avatar

    6115

    Good to know that Paul likes dongles.  I don't.  I think the transition to USB-C is critical, but is better achieved by a gradual transition that includes both types of ports on computers.  Just like the gradual phase-out of the VGA port and serial ports happened.  OEMs didn't just rip out the ports and say "Adapt".  They included both sets of ports until a critical mass was achieved.

    Frankly, I think Paul just takes whatever the contrarian position is on everything because it is good for readership.  Nothing wrong with that, I guess, but it really begins to wear down my tolerance for being yanked around.

    • Avatar

      8043

      In reply to Speednet:

      Adding yet one more port or multiple ports onto new computers will raise the cost of the computer. (Money that you would be smarter to use for purchasing a dongle.) Plus can you imagine those extra ports on the side of the computer as well? What a mess you are suggesting.

      • Avatar

        6014

        In reply to Robert_Ameeti:
        That's how it was done for years, and that's how it's still done on the desktop. It's not a problem unless you judge the value of the device primarily by appearance.  And let's be honest... If that's the case then dongles are even worse.

         

  5. Avatar

    6358

    Dongles are evil. Just because we have to live with them today doesn't mean we should have to use even MORE of them just because someone decided we should go all-in with a type of port that is very rare. Dongles are evil because you have to keep track of them, remember to bring them (it happens so easily that you forget to put one back once used), and every time you need one, bring it out of the bag or wherever it is.

     

    Besides that, I really really don't trust anything USB/C right now, because of all the bad cables out there that can fry your computer or devices. Furthermore, furthermore, we'd have to replace all of our current dongles with ones that work with USB/C. How is that a good thing? USB/C may be the future, but it's not the future right now. Old ports are still needed!

  6. Avatar

    5631

    Dongles for ultra thin and light?  I get it.  Not that I love it, but I get it.

    Dongles for mainstream high-end "professional" machines?  Unacceptable.  A professional machine should have real ports.  In the case of the MBP, the loss of the SD card reader is particularly egregious.  And that it doesn't have ANY USB A ports is also a shame.  They could have easily fit at least one on there.  And they should have because USB A is what we are still using, for practically everything.

    Yes, USB C is the future.  But we don't live in the future.  We still live in the present, where USB A is still used by pretty much everything.  My phone uses USB C and I can't plug anything into it.

    You have no idea how many times I've been asked to help or been involved in an event where someone needs to hook a laptop up to a projector and they don't have their dongle.  It happens FAR more often than not.  It's a shame we've come to this.

    • Avatar

      5539

      In reply to doubledeej: Hmm, my phone uses USB-C and I can plug darn near anything into it, power, HDMI, USB Drives, keyboards, mice....

       

    • Avatar

      8043

      In reply to doubledeej:

      Hmm. You say that USB-C is the future, not now, yet your phone has it? How odd.

      As for a professional, I use my MacBook Pro about 16 hours a day and have for the last 4 years. I don't think I've ever used the SD card reader. As a consultant visiting several clients every day, I'm not sure that it is really needed. I'm glad that they dropped the USB-A port as I don't need for this conversion to take any longer than necessary. They only way to move mfgs forward is to give them an incentive. I'll use a dongle until then but you can bet that my next printer or scanner will have a USB-C port or I won't buy it. I've purchased all the dongles I need for the time being, but no new peripherals will be bought that are not working with these standards. I happen to love my latest thumb drive that has both USB-A & USB-C connectors.

  7. Avatar

    8113

    I've never had an issue with dongles, I've used many over the years. I've also been using macbook pros for nearly a decade. However, frankly the new "pros" simply don't stack and don't provide a good value for the price that Apple is asking. As a Nexus 6P user, I've already begun the transition to USB-C and I have no issue with using that exclusively.  I've tried and hate the new keyboards and the removal of the SD card slot simply make this a non-starter for me. With my 7-year old 15-inch macbook pro in need of replacement for some time now, I went shopping and found the new Asus Q324UA at Best Buy last sunday. At $1,149 it included a 13-inch 1080p touchscreen, 512GB ssd, 16GB ram, 2.7 GHz Kaby Lake chip, 2 USB-A, 1 USB-C, HDMI and an SD card slot. Oh and it weighs less than the new macbook 13. 

  8. Avatar

    7063

    Back in 2010 I carried a MacBook Pro along with the charger, a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable and a standard RJ45 cable. And that was it.

    If I were to stick with Apple today I would need the same basic thing pus 3 extra dongles on a weekly or daily basis. Personally I would rather have a laptop that is a few mm thicker and a few oz heavier with a couple USB-A, USB-C/Thunderbolt, a RJ45, and an SD card reader built in, rather than having 4 different dongles to deal with.

    When you use each of those every week, sometimes multiple times a week, you basically end up carrying them with you at all times. So you are carrying more weight (plus bulk and chunkiness) than if they were integrated. I don't see the RJ45 port in the back of routers and security panels being replaced anytime soon, nor SD cards from cameras. USB drives may eventually all move over to USB-C, but it will likely be more than 4 years (not until we see the price drop enough to be branded give-away items).

    I don't see why Apple couldn't offer two models during the transition period for another 4-8 years. Most vendors on the Windows side have multiple lines. Lenovo has a slim line with limited ports and some thicker more versatile models. In my opinion Apple just removed itself from the actual "Pro" realm of I.T. and graphic design users that deal with these formats on-the-go.

    • Avatar

      5592

      In reply to DataMeister:

      Exactly. Product lines actually designed for working Pros in other industries typically focus more on reliability and compatibility and sacrifice having the latest new technology. For example, true Pro-grade DSLRs such as a Nikon D5 or Canon EOS-1D X Mk II are missing a LOT of features that are present on cameras from the same vendors at half the price. But those missing features are not the ones working pros use every day and are potential points of failure or backward compatibility. (Think things like scene modes or tilting display panels or built-in flash units)

      The MacBook Pro, if it is geared toward working professionals, should include what they need every day as the highest priority and leave introducing new features to the non-pro model. And if a feature turns out to be useful for professionals, they'll call for it to be added to the pro line in the next version in a reliable way that doesn't screw up their existing workflow.

  9. Avatar

    4370

    No Paul, the choice made by Apple was the wrong one. You know very well that devices like the new 360 etc leave at least one type A port. It's not true that everything will be USB C soon, no. Why should we throw away all the excellent mice and keyboards we have for instance. This is stupid and against the environment. Let alone the fact that so far where are the USB-C peripherals? So not only those we have bought over the past years, also those we are still buying over the foreseeable future. And and HDMI (VGA etc) port is not the same. You are generally sitting at a desk when you connect to a monitor. How about having to plug a pen drive for storage or for internet, while on the go. And don't tell me to tether my phone, that kills the battery unless it's for a few minutes... Even a single type A would have been enough for most uses. So no, I won't be buying any PC that only has type C, as well as none that only has type A.... I want both, that's best of both worlds. Fullstop.

    • Avatar

      2

      In reply to digiguy:

      So, to be clear, I wasn't defending Apple. Just the move to USB-C/Thunderbolt 3.

      • Avatar

        4370

        In reply to paul-thurrott:
        Nobody is against the move to USB C. I said my next pc has to have USB C or I am not buying. But I don't agree with the brutal push towards type C. It's a bit like Windows 8. It was a move in the right direction (touch), but implemented in a brutal way that lead most people to try to avoid it. Look around the web how many apple fans are now thinking of moving to a pc, or keeping their old macs as long as they can... Microsoft tried to use its leadership in PCs to impose the "new standard" but it didn't work. They just lost clients. Same with Apple, they are simply going to lose clients (not just for the ports but also for the crazy price increases)
      • Avatar

        442

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        USB-C will get here soon enough, no need to rush things.  Though, Apple may have some backlash slowing it down rather than speeding it up.  Sad.

    • Avatar

      1753

      In reply to digiguy:

      There is nothing wrong with the move to USB-C/Thunderbolt, it is the lack of dongles in the box, for me, that is the clincher. Throw a couple of dongles or vouchers to get the dongles you need and they will silence most critics. 

      USB-C is the future, but we are at the beginning of a transition period.

    • Avatar

      399

      In reply to digiguy:

      " This is stupid and against the environment."

      By that logic, we should have stuck with PS2 ports.

      "How about having to plug a pen drive for storage"

      Type C pendrives already exist. And if you must use an old one, Type C to Type A dongles exist and are fairly cheap.

      • Avatar

        4370

        In reply to maethorechannen:

        "By that logic, we should have stuck with PS2 ports."

        Bad comparison. USB A has been there for 20 years during which laptops entered everybody's house. And you have billions of peripherals. It's immensely more widespread...
        "Type C pendrives already exist. And if you must use an old one, Type C to Type A dongles exist and are fairly cheap."
        Yes, but they are inconvenient on the go... It's stupid to have to have a dongle hanging from your laptop in a train or plane. I'll let the others leave with dongles. My next pc will have both type C and type A.

  10. Avatar

    7102

    The dongle/port issue is only one part of the new Mackbook Pro lineup. I must say I have rarely seen so big complaint of a Apple product among the real hard core professional Mac users. Basicly its underpowered/overpriced for real professional videoeditors with 4k content etc..

    Apple have lost the school market to Chromebooks, and now they might lost the real professional market to. The Mac Pro (the round desktop device) have not been updated to for a very long time. I think Tim Cook have no clear vision or direction what Apple want to be.

  11. Avatar

    4504

    I understand and agree that we do need to move forward, and clearly USB-C/TB3 is the future. However, I only live in the dongle world when I'm at the office or home and when I take the laptop out, the dongles stay where they are - on the desk or attached to the cable that needed the adapter. So at the moment, if I'm travelling for work, I don't worry about bringing a video adapter for presenting stuff, or if I'm on a holiday, I don't worry about bringing an SD card adapter for my photos.

  12. Avatar

    8112

    I respectfully disagree with this viewpoint.

    USB/C will not be the end of dongleworld. There will be another port, another standard, more cables and dongles to buy. As our data needs increase, USB/C's capacity will no longer suffice and we'll come up with something else. There is no reason to believe otherwise.

    Also, as a DJ/VJ (one of the prime candidates for a MacBook Pro and other ultra-slim laptops, I might add), I have to connect to a USB DJ controller. Each plug and dongle is one more connection to accidentally vibrate loose from high volumes, accidentally be spilled on or bumped by a drunk bar patron, accidentally unplugged when I put the microphone down on the table. When that happens, you're looking at a minimum of a minute of silence - a fireable offense in the DJ world. Dongles are absolutely, positively the enemy of the DJ, and USB/C controllers are years away.

  13. Avatar

    5592

    The problem with the MacBook Pro is not that it has USB-C connectors.  (And let's be honest here, the controversy isn't about USB-C or USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt. It's about Apple's flawed design decisions on the latest MacBook Pro models.)

    The problem is that the flawed MacBook Pro ONLY has USB-C connectors. (And a headphone jack because, apparently, that port is both too far in the past to be tolerated on the iPhone and too irreplaceable to be removed unlike every other port known to humanity on the MacBooks)

    • Avatar

      8121

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Please point out where this article focuses at all on Apple design. Try to keep up people.

      • Avatar

        5592

        In reply to Sectime:

        Yes, that was the point of my saying " (And let's be honest here, the controversy isn't about USB-C or USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt. It's about Apple's flawed design decisions on the latest MacBook Pro models.)"

        You'll note that Paul, quite rightly, pointed out that the latest HP Spectre did the job well (without explicitly mentioning that it's Apple's poor design decisions that raised the controversy).

        • Avatar

          5485

          In reply to MikeGalos:

          When Apple dropped integrated Floppy drives, DVD drives and so on, was also a flawed design. Tell me, when did ever Apple did a good design decision for you? I guess, probably never.

          Of course HP did a good design decision (sarcasm). HP is historically really well known for brilliant designs pushing the industry forward. They even managed to make a USB-C port that ....

          • Avatar

            5592

            In reply to nbplopes:

            Magsafe was  a brilliant design decision by Apple and I said so at the time and still think so (Even if Apple thinks tripping over cords and launching laptops is now a "legacy" problem that apparently can't happen thanks to the magic of the USB-C connector).

            As to HP, they've been the ones doing great designs for the last couple of years now. That's one of the changes that happened when they changed management of the consumer PC group. And that's actual industrial design and not just "Let's make it thinner again, add another color and, hey, what if we give the color a cool name rather than call it pink or dark gray" but real thought into using design to improve the product's engineering and usability. See the Spectre 360 or the Pavilion Wave or the Omen X.

  14. Avatar

    1584

    The message I get is that Apple has designed for the future to catch up to the device. Corollary: we don't intend to deliver a new machine for 3-5 years.

  15. Avatar

    5486

    Apparently Apple now offer 19 different types of dongles for all their devices. If that's not stupid (or just pure profiteering) I don't know what is. USB C stands the best chance of being the single 'do it all' type of port, but until all the major manufacturers adopt it, we'll remain in dongle hell.

    • Avatar

      8043

      In reply to ghostrider:

      So you'd rather they not offer those adapters? You are thinking that they created all these new interfaces to make money on dongles? Get real. It is purely a pleasure that you can go to one place and get whatever you need. As for moving to the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port, there is nothing but goodness there.

  16. Avatar

    7062

    IMHO many dongles simply do not work or they are unreliable, even the ones that come from the manufacturer. For example, I purchased an Apple USB to Ethernet dongle that I could never get to work. I try to use an HDMI to display port dongle with a display I really like, but the dongle fails 50% of the time to make the connection. I have all sorts of mini USB to USB dongles for various phones I have owned, and it is impossible to tell without careful labeling which one will work as a data connector as well as a power source, and I inevitably grab two or three of the wrong ones before I find the one that works. For some reason some devices don't seem to play well with USB hubs. Ethernet is still the standard in every office building in America, so you have to have something for that. Even if your office has some sort of USB-C thunderbolt setup you know that you will need Ethernet when you travel. I have bags of dongles from the past that I remember many struggles with. Of course the worst thing is that I do have numerous perfectly good USB peripherals that I would hate to just junk because I need a new connector type or a port. Why should I have to junk various keyboards, monitors (usually HDMI), printers, mice, portable CD drives (yes, some of us do need to use CDs and DVDs regularly), and of course a huge collection of USB thumb drives and SD cards that are extremely useful.

    • Avatar

      8043

      In reply to TenFour:

      You really do not get it. Why would you junk anything? Just get an adapter and move on. No junking required.

      And you also whine about having all sorts of mini USB & grabbing 2 or 3 of the wrong ones, etc. Do you not see that this USB-C is going to make all of that go away? There will no longer be a data cable, a power cable, a video cable, etc. One cable fits any device, any port. Drop the whine and move past all of your current problems.

  17. Avatar

    2233

    I agree for the most part.  I read 'The Verge' article the other day.

    I will say I would be more likely to get a Spectre360 or XPS13, if I were buying now.  Having that ONE legacy port is nice.  The Kaby Lake XPS even gives two and a card reader.  I know you are not a fan, but I never use web cams so it's what I typically recommend at work when we need a new one. I would, however, purchase an all USB C device if a 3.0 dongle was included.  I just don't feel I should be forced to buy one.

    However, I do think by mid 2017, there will be no reason to worry about a legacy port as the market will catch up with what's going on.

  18. Avatar

    1545

    For the single Batchelor/Spinster living alone this is not an issue, or not much of one until they step outside of their house/flat and interact with the REAL world.

    For a family man like me, with 2 teenage children with different laptops and phones and a wife the same plus the family shared AIO, plus my latestest and greatest, plus the Xbox, the TV, the sound system, the TiVo, the Sony SLR, etc., etc.,....

    All of it bought over multiple years.

    All of it actively used.

    Not all supporting WiFi.

    At this moment NOTHING is phased out and ALL still need potential connectivity until they do finally die...

    I have to support it all, often with duplicate and triplicate on hand of specific cables to support multiple concurrent activities across the users and devices.

    It's horrific.

    and F***ing expensive.

    Adding to the problem does not offer the solution.

  19. Avatar

    1753

    I think the biggest problem with USB-C is that USB is so universal and suddenly we have a different plug shape that is, for the first time, not backward compatible.

    In the long term, this isn't a problem, but in the short term, for those that have dozens of USB sticks, printers, scanners etc. that plug into USB, that is a big difference. On most Windows PCs it doesn't matter, yet, as they still have a couple of normal USB 3/3.1 ports as well as USB-C.

    But the MacBooks and similar Windows ultrabooks/convertibles that only have USB-C make the problem more glaringly obvious. I still have peripherals from the turn of the century that work fine today, but not on a new PC which only has USB-C. I think your example of the Asus is pertinent here, for the transition period Apple (and other manufacturers) should be throwing a USB-C to USB-A dongle into the box (or a voucher for a couple of dongles), to help users transition.

    Interestingly, have you noticed what this means for Apple? According to them, the iPhone 7 is a legacy device, when it comes to Mac connectivity!

  20. Avatar

    5539

    Two things are generally connected together with a cable, USB, BDMI, Ethernet, power. Buy the right cable and you don't need the 'dongle'. The dongle just lets you use the cable you already have. Big deal.

  21. Avatar

    6014

    I think the lesson here is that laptops have gotten too darn small. The transition to a new type of port should practically be a non-event, especially when moving from one very capable standard to another. The only reason that this would be an issue is if there is not enough room on the machine for multiple ports.

    I own a single USB hub and... Zero dongles. Have never needed one because I have never bought a tiny eye-straining 12" notebook as thick as a small comic book. If you have a PC small enough to have limited ports requiring dongles, that's the problem, not the new standard.

    I can't wait for USB-C to be universal. I'll build a new desktop and buy a new external hard drive dock in a few years and by that time it will all be nailed down and standard. Until then... USB 2 and 3 are just fine. No dongles required.

  22. Avatar

    8172

    We all agree that USB-C will eventually be the best standard and we'll all be using it everywhere, but it's not ready yet, so making it the only option is premature.

    We all agree that electric cars are the way forward, yet Ford, Chevrolet and BMW haven't abandoned gasoline and diesel cars... That would be stupid, because the infrastructure for electric cars isn't ready yet... Imagine if all service stations got rid of their gas pumps and only offered charging ports?... This is what Apple has done!

    USB-C will be great when it's ready for prime time, but right now it isn't, so other options still need to be available first!

  23. Avatar

    8068

    Agreed with kenhes, USB A needs to be phased out, not just replaced. There should have been at least one on the MBP.

     

    Hell, in the box there should have been one shipped for free with the MBP, A combination USB A, NIC, HDMI and maybe a MagSafe dongle to at least give the self respecting in us a base coverage of some of the most used ports right out of the box.

  24. Avatar

    1139

    To me, this is an excuse to upgrade my peripherals. Good stuff.

  25. Avatar

    399

    I just hope Type B connectors on peripherals disappear soon. It's the one type of USB cable I'm most likely to not have on hand when I need one.

  26. Avatar

    3216

    For many, it's not so much the issue of dongles as it is the issue of port types seeming to change every couple years resulting in people having to replace perfectly good gear or purchase (sometimes expensive) adapters. 

    While it may be true that the new connector is better in every way, it would still be nice if there were some consideration for the costs involved with the upgrade - I've lost count of the number of cables I have scrapped over the years.  The least a mfgr could do is to provide a few adapters when they switch to a new standard.

    That said, cables today are considerably cheaper than they were at one time.  Not that long ago (in geological terms) we were using parallel cables which ran about $25 each - that was about the price for a good steak dinner.

  27. Avatar

    5027

    Turns out there might be another problem is this new world of dongles Apple tries to create (yes it is a new world of dongles, because it is not something you have to use everyday normally .  I for instance use zero dongles on a daily basis .. and I intend to continue doing that, and I dont know many people, except Mac users, that use any dongles currently) 

    And that is the fact that there seems to be an issue with the new  MacBook Pro's and ...dongles. Recently saw a video where they tested the new MacBook Pro 13"  ..and as soon as they connected a USB A to USB-C dongle to the thing WiFi started disconnecting .. over and over. 

    They also had issues with using a HDMI to USB-C dongle  the image kept flickering, and the mouse cursor started lagging, massively .. as soon as you pulled out the dongle, everything worked fine again. 

    They of course tested the dongles in a Dell XPS 13 to check if the issue was the dongles ...nope .. worked fine on a PC, did not work properly on the new Macbook Pro 13" ....   I find it strange that not a single review have mentioned this .. at all.  

    So what is the point of creating a dongle world if the computer potentially cant even handle dongles correctly?  

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYVjIjBMx6o

  28. Avatar

    2788

    The trouble with the one-port-for-everything model is that now you have ports where a cable or device can be plugged in, but will not work:

    http://blog.fosketts.net/2016/10/29/total-nightmare-usb-c-thunderbolt-3/

  29. Avatar

    5027

    I come to think of this Lenovo X300 ad from 2008   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hnOCUkbix0  :) 

    Sure , Dongles are not a problem...  or are they

     

  30. Avatar

    442

    Less dongles = better

    More dongles = worse

    It ain't rocket science.

    The raw fact is computers are worthless to people if the computer doesn't have I/O.  So restricting or making I/O more difficult makes the machine more difficult to use.  No amount of obfuscation is going to change that very simple concept.  Who wants to use a more difficult computer?

  31. Avatar

    7209

    I'm hoping to get that HP Specture x360 with my tax refund. Hopefully, HP will release a version in a color other than "Same Old Silver" by then. They only have one model right now in 13 inch silver. Has anyone heard anything about a 15 inch or different colors? The previous version had an OLED screen option that is not available in the newest model. Does anyone know if/when these models might be available?

  32. Avatar

    1956

    USB-C is obviously the future, and I'm a big supporter of this cable - I love the port on my Nexus 5X, and I hope that all of my devices adopt it. One cable for everything is genius.

    With that said, here's my problem with Apple and Type-C right now - they went all-in. Look, one of my biggest complaints of the Surface Book is the lack of Type-C on it - I love the magsafe-like style of the Surface Connector, but the machine is not as future proof as it should be - BUT one of my biggest complaints of the new Macbook Pro's is the lack of Type-A on it. It would have been very easy for Apple to push Type-C with 3 or 4 ports, but have one Type-A on it for compatibility with older peripherals for the Pro market they build the machine for, just like the Spectre x360 you mentioned. Remember, desktops for years had a plethora of USB ports, but also maintained the PS/2 ports as well, or as many graphics cards for a long time maintained a combination of VGA, DVI, and HDMI.

    Now, maybe if Apple had included some dongles, or didn't charge crazy prices for their dongles (which they just lowered the prices of, and are not the only guilty ones - the prices MS charges for their Surface branded dongles are insane), it would be a different story. 

    I hope our transition to USB-C comes very quickly, and USB-A, micro-USB, etc etc are phased out rapidly. But it's not going to be overnight, and we need to allow for support for those older devices, or have Apple provide that USB-C to USB-A dongle with their computers.

  33. Avatar

    5234

    " And USB 3.0, mini-VGA, and microHDMI on this side"

     

    What?!?  That's clearly a mini-DisplayPort!

  34. Avatar

    214

    Agreed. Just add various wireless technologies to whip up a halcyon future.      

  35. Avatar

    639

    I don't do dongles. I would rather pay extra for a cable with USB-C on one end and the port I need on the other.  Now if someone could make NFC or Bluetooth as fast as USB-C with Thunderbolt and come up with a standard to power devices wirelessly, then we will be living in the future! No cables means no dongles.

    • Avatar

      1292

      In reply to cseafous:

      "I would rather pay extra for a cable with USB-C on one end and the port I need on the other."

      I think that is the exact definition of a dongle. Having to adapt the I/O port on the computer for the need rather than plugging the I/O cable into the computer directly.

  36. Avatar

    5027

    A Classic , in a new version for the MacBook Pro 2016, dedicated to dongles :)   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XSC_UG5_kU

  37. Avatar

    5394

    "Anyone with a modern PC Ultrabook will probably need a USB-to-Ethernet dongle if they intend to wired up their device."

    Everywhere has gone wireless 

  38. Avatar

    4567

    I agree wholeheartedly with this article.  I have basement drawers full of cables and dongles past.  Mini-usb, micro-usb, 30 pin iPod connectors, 24 pin  Zune connector, different forms of firewire, dvi, dual link dvi, ADC (remember the old Apple version of dvi that included power to the display), dvi to vga, dvi to hdmi, hdmi to dvi, display port, the list is endless.

    USB-C can fix this mess.  But we need to have the big players pushing it.  Going all-in on it.  Otherwise we'll never get there.  Displays still come with VGA and DVI ports (usually with the cables in the box).  Why?  Why in 2016?    

    All these Apple people complaining about dongles.  This is not uncharted territory.     

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