Surface USB-C Dongle Reportedly Shipping This Week

Posted on June 26, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Microsoft Surface with 22 Comments

Announced over a year ago, Microsoft’s utterly pointless Surface-branded USB-C dongle will reportedly ship this Friday, beginning with business customers. The bulky contraption costs $80. And you do not need it.

Microsoft first announced the dongle in May 2017, joking that it was for people “who love dongles.” The device is simple enough, if overly-large: It features a single USB-C connector in a box connected to a Surface Connector port on a non-detachable cable.

So what’s the point of this thing?

Because the Surface Connector port is used for power on all portable Surface PCs today, this dongle, combined with a USB-C-based power connector or dock could replace the power cable that comes with your PC. For some reason.

One might also use it to connect with USB-C-based peripherals while on the go. In the most awkward manner possible.

Also note that it only works with Surface Pro (2017) and Surface Laptop.

Regardless, you don’t need it. Any USB 3.0 to USB-C adapter would let you connect to those peripherals now at far less cost and with less size and weight. And since the Surface adapter provides only USB-C capabilities, and not Thunderbolt 3, it has no advantages when it comes to docking and expansion. Surface PCs remain limited to what you can do over USB 3.0. (The Surface Connector port is just USB 3.0 with a different, proprietary plug.)

Recent Surface PCs, like Surface Book 2, include both a Surface Connector port and USB-C, which tells us two things: Owners of these PCs especially do not need this dongle. And Microsoft will never drop Surface Connector, for what I assume are backward compatibility reasons. Our only hope for the future is that it adds Thunderbolt 3 capabilities to the USB-C ports on coming Surface PCs.

 

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Comments (22)

22 responses to “Surface USB-C Dongle Reportedly Shipping This Week”

  1. rob_segal

    That's not a dongle. That's a nunchuck.

  2. Stoicjim

    I'm curious to see if how this would work with the Microsoft Display Dock (of Microsoft 950(XL) fame). I have said dock and have tested it with the USB-C port on the Surface Book 2 and got USB devices and my HDMI connected television to work. Said dock also has a full-sized DP (DisplayPort) but I haven't got around to see if i can run two displays off of it on the SB2.


    I have a Surface Pro LTE and Surface Laptop so I probably will get this to do some testing.

  3. Jeffsters

    Gizmodo has a great article that came out last week on the quagmire that is USB-C "USB-C is a Mess-How to Navigate It" check it out!

  4. kjb434

    For the sheer size, you might as well just carry the latest version of the dock. More ports and a power cable is worth it over USB C

  5. Angela_WWW

    Linus Tech Tips had a story about a new ultrathin USB-C connector patented by Microsoft. It is meant to hold the cable better. I hope that it will be in the next Surface Devices with Thunderbolt 3.

  6. Ekim

    Blows me away that there isn't a USB-C port built into the Surface.

  7. bluvg

    "The Surface Connector port is just USB 3.0 with a different, proprietary plug."


    Huh? You mean rather that its support of downstream connectors is limited to USB 3.0? Functionally, it's more than USB 3.0.

    • Alex Taylor

      In reply to bluvg:

      Yes, I've noted Paul making this remark disparagingly on several occasions.

      The connector includes multistream displayport to connect two monitors (which "just USB 3.0" could not do without the overhead of Displaylink), not to mention powering the Surface, which USB 3 would not.


      The biggest thing for me is the form factor: the flush fitting magnetic connector is awesome and I would miss it greatly if a USB-C/TB3 completely replaced it in future iterations.


      • Werickson

        In reply to agt4:

        I concur - What is the most asked for change to MacBooks beside the butterfly keyboard - a return to the mag safe power adapter. And Surface book has one - and if you use the dock, you get 2 mini display port connections, ethernet, and 4 usb 3.0 ports through the connector. Paul has a hangup on the lack of thunderbolt 3 which most businesses could care less about.

  8. Silversee

    "Utterly pointless".


    Maybe, but I'm not sure you understand the use case, Paul. It is obviously not intended for connecting ordinary USB-C peripherals, for which a simple A-C cable or adapter will do just as well.


    This appears to provide full USB 3.1 alternate mode support for both power and display in addition to USB pass through. So presumably, this makes the relevant Surface devices compatible with third-party USB-C docking stations, displays, and power supplies, which would be alternatives to the proprietary Surface Dock. The advantage that it offers for "docking and expansion" is simply compatibility with non-Microsoft solutions. You and your readers might not value that, but somebody might.


    The fact that this is being offered through business channels should tell you that this isn't really aimed at consumers. It is likely a perceived requirement for some corporate and commercial customers.


    Edit: the other real possibility is that this adapter may offer forward compatibility with a future Microsoft Surface Dock replacement that is USB Type-C based.

  9. Polycrastinator

    It also looks, in the small print, as if it only works if it's receiving power over USB-C. This is a dock adapter. If you have a USB-C dock, you can use it with a Surface using this thing. But that's all it's good for.

  10. MikeGalos

    The real, unanswered question is what protocols it actually supports. As Microsoft pointed out, saying you have a USB C connector means almost nothing since that means you may or may not support USB 3.1 and you may or may not support USB Power Delivery and you may or may not support any specific combination of the various USB Alternate Modes such as HDMI or DisplayPort or Thunderbolt and virtually all of those Alt Modes have some compatibility issues with standalone versions of the same protocols, sometimes even by design.

  11. sott3

    Glad to hear there are no plans to drop the Surface Connector. Company has made a sizable investments in Surface Docks.

  12. ben55124

    Rube Goldberg award winning dongle.

  13. simont

    We will give you a USB C connector like you asked for, but you are not going to like it

  14. ivarh

    A dongle so you can use a dongle....

  15. Chris_Kez

    The market for this device does seem incredibly small, even by Surface standards. I guess this could let you use a basic Type C dock instead of a Surface Dock, while still enjoying the benefits of a single, magnetic, zero-insertion-force connection. Given the cost of this dongle, though, such a dock would have to be in the $100 range to be cost-competitive with the Surface Dock. Other than docking, I'm not sure what other circumstances would see you looking to take advantage of the Surface Connect port's ability to simultaneously carry power, video and data. Unless you are just really, really into the magnetic connection.

  16. roberto20

    Which is the best shipping service in USA? usps liteblue vs fedex vs UPS

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