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The 12-inch MacBook is the ultimate portable Mac, but that single USB-C port feels a lot less convenient when you want to connect to a bunch of devices at home or in the office. We covered a $79¬†portable hub yesterday, and now OWC has announced its $129¬†desktop model, available for pre-order today for delivery in October.
Available in silver, space gray and gold, to match your MacBook, the OWC USB-C Dock provides a total of 10¬†ports in a unit designed to remain on your desk, allowing you to instantly connect and disconnect via a¬†single USB-C cable …¬†
Unlike the Hub+,¬†the OWC dock provides Gigabit Ethernet and audio in/out, as well as built-in HDMI, supporting 4K displays.
- 4 USB 3 Type-A ports
- 1 USB 3 Type-C port
- SD card reader
- HDMI with 4K display support
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Audio in and out ports
OWC claims 11 ports, but includes the connection to the MacBook.
The dock comes with an 80w power supply capable of charging your MacBook as well as all attached USB devices.
Filed under: Mac Tagged: 12-inch MacBook, docking station, Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, MacBook, OWC, OWC USB-C Dock, Secure Digital, Universal Serial Bus, USB-C, USB-C Dock, USB-C hub
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Review: Kanex USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter solves the WiFi dead zone problem for the 12-inch MacBook
Adapters for adding thicker ports are nothing new for Apple’s modern line of notebooks. Even the high-end Retina MacBook Pro decidedly¬†excludes a direct Ethernet connection, and Apple’s MacBook Air and new ultrathin 12-inch MacBook are especially too thin for a wired connection to the Internet without relying on an adapter¬†in the middle.
While modern WiFi is fine for most everyday situations, even Apple acknowledges that a wired connection is necessary in some instances. To remedy this, it sells¬†a $29 USB Ethernet Adapter and a faster $29 Thunderbolt to Ethernet Adapter. The 12-inch MacBook has neither port, however, additionally requiring Apple’s $19 USB-C to USB Adapter to work with the slower adapter.
Fortunately with USB-C being a new industry standard, accessory makers like Kanex are ready with solutions like the $29.95 USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter made for the new 12-inch MacBook and other USB-C computers…
At first glance you may mistake Kanex USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter for some sort of mystical Lightning to Ethernet adapter for iPhones and iPads, but at its core it’s a USB 3.0 dongle with a super thin connector end met with a rather thick brickish end with an Ethernet port.
This is absolutely the first time my MacBook has been connected to a wired Internet connection since it shipped in April. That seems crazy but it’s handy to have a way to connect directly on occassion. Busy work days when streaming a spotty Apple live stream, when on the phone with technical support with my Internet service provider, and if I need to connect to another machine over the Ethernet line to name a few.
Kanex’s USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet adapter looks very similar to Apple’s own adapters, although the plastic shell is a shade closer to gray than Apple’s bright white cables and adapters; my first thought is that this might combat discoloring over time. The RJ45 end of the adapter is a bit bulkier than Apple’s standard USB adapters, measuring 1.25-inches wide by 2.5-inches long by 0.25 inches thick.
The overall length of Kanex’s USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet adapter measures 11.5-inches in total. In comparison, Apple’s USB Ethernet Adapter measures 8-inches long, or 12.75-inches long when attached to Apple’s USB-C to USB Adapter. The length of your data¬†cable is what’s most important when connecting directly to a router or modem, but Kanex’s adapter lets¬†the RJ45 end hang freely from the USB-C end with flexibility.
While most of the adapter resembles the USB-C Charge Cable bundled with the new MacBook, the RJ45 end of it makes it obvious why the ultra thin notebook doesn’t include an Ethernet port: it’s much thicker than even the thickest part of the entire MacBook. The thickness is comparable to two iPhone 6s stacked.
Not apparent until you see it in action, Kanex’s USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter hides two status indicator lights inside ‚ÄĒ something you won’t find in either of Apple’s USB Ethernet adapters. Both indicator lights glow soft green when connected. One presumably shows¬†connection in general as it remains solid when connected, although it remained green when I removed the Ethernet cable between the modem and the router. The other indicator light pulses at various speeds based on data transfer speeds. A mostly idle machine shows a slower flash while opening multiple Safari tabs creates a constant flash until all the pages have loaded.
Kanex’s USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet works entirely¬†as expected with the only surprise being the green status indicator lights. If flashing lights are too distracting and un-Apple for you, you can pay the premium and buy separate USB-C to USB and USB to Ethernet Adapters, but Kanex’s solution is one of the first available and provides a gigabit ethernet port for the same price that Apple sells its Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet adapter.
If you’re looking to add access to an¬†RJ45 port on your new MacBook for frequent or occasional use, especially during conference season (and for quickly downloading new software betas), Kanex’s solution is a fine one¬†for a reasonable price. The biggest issue comes when you need to use both ethernet and power, as the MacBook features only one port; a hub-style adapter like Anker revealed this week would be ideal in this instance, although it may be reaching edge-case territory.
Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: 12-inch MacBook, 12-inch MacBook accessories, Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet Adapter, internet, MacBook, MacBook accessories, MacBook Ethernet, MacBook Gigabit Ethernet, USB-C, USB-C adapter, Wi-Fi, wifi
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In iOS 7, Apple introduced nearby networking features called Multipeer Connectivity to allow iOS devices in proximity to talk to one another over WiFi or Bluetooth even without a traditional Internet connection. Developers have used the tech for everything from exchanging files and other data between devices, to remote control functionality, and multi-device experiences like the iTranslate Voice app¬†that sends real-time speech translated from one device to the other. It‚Äôs also the tech behind the local anonymous messaging service FireChat that got some attention earlier this year. Now, Apple is opening up the Multipeer Connectivity APIs to OS X starting with Yosemite and in the process allowing cross-platform nearby networking between Macs and iOS devices.¬†
With Multipeer Connectivity coming to the Mac, iOS developers relying on the feature for iOS apps could also build companion experiences for Mac, while for others it could provide a quick and easy way to implement sharing between Macs and iOS devices that are nearby. Apps like FireChat require users to be within 30 feet of each other to send messages, but also employs a mesh networking approach that can relay messages from one device to another and make the range of the network, in theory, limitless. The tech could also be used¬†for an experience like Apple’s AirDrop feature, which it just so happens to be bringing to Mac with Yosemite.¬†
During a developer session at WWDC, Apple showed an example of a Mac app that pulls in photos taken from an iOS app using Multipeer Connectivity. The benefit of¬†Multipeer Connectivity is that it doesn‚Äôt require nearby devices to connect to same access point or an access point at all.
Apple is using the same API as on iOS for Multipeer networking on the Mac, but it‚Äôs replacing Bluetooth with Ethernet support in addition to offering infrastructure WiFi (like a hotspot), and peer to peer WiFi (like WiFi Direct).
The feature is supported by all iOS devices with Lightning connectors (non-Lightning devices have to use Bluetooth) and all Macs from 2012 or later.
Filed under: iOS, Mac Tagged: AirDrop, Bluetooth, cross-platform, Ethernet, FireChat, Mac, Multipeer Connectivity, nearby, OS X, peer-to-peer WiFi, WiFi Direct, yosemite
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There are Mac accessories that are exciting or fun, and others that are boring but useful. The Elgato Thunderbolt Dock most definitely falls into the latter category.
As regular readers will know, I’m of the view that wires are evil. Anything that can be wireless should be wireless, and any wires that are unavoidable should be hidden from sight.¬†This is particularly easy if you have an Apple Thunderbolt Display, of course, since all you need in the way of wires from a MacBook is power and Thunderbolt: everything else can be plugged into the back of the monitor.
But if you share my aversion to visible wires and don’t have a Thunderbolt display, or you are frequently connecting and disconnecting your MacBook from a bunch of devices on your desk,¬†the Elgato Thunderbolt Dock may be the answer …
The concept is simple: you run a single Thunderbolt cable from your MacBook to the dock, and everything else plugs into the dock. Place the dock at the back of your desk, and you can then run the cables out of sight. Leave the office, and all you need do is unplug two cables: power and Thunderbolt. Everything else remains permanently connected to the dock.
You could even do what I’ve done with my desk, and drill a hole for the Thunderbolt and power cables, and run the cables beneath your desk to the dock (or Thunderbolt Display, in my case).
The first thing to say about the dock is that it looks the part. With an anodised aluminum surround wrapping around a matte black ABS plastic shell, it’s an excellent aesthetic match for a Mac, and could easily pass for something made by Apple.
Elgato has clearly tried to balance minimalist looks with practicality. Instead of a featureless front, there are headphone and microphone sockets, and a single USB 3 port.
The rear of the dock has two Thunderbolt sockets, two more USB 3 ports, an HDMI port and a gigabyte Ethernet port. It’s a powered dock, so the socket for the supplied 12V power pack rounds things off.
Although there are two Thunderbolt ports, only one is usable: the other is needed to connect the dock to your Mac.
The dock couldn’t be simpler to use: hook up your devices once, leave them connected and then just disconnect the Thunderbolt cable from your Mac when you leave your desk. ¬†If you have external drives connected, remember to eject these beforehand – other than that, it just works.
I’m not keen on the headphone socket being on the front. While that may be convenient for headphones, it’s no big deal to plug those into the Mac given that you’re probably going to take them with you anyway. The far more useful function would be to connect wired speakers, and there I’d want the port on the rear.
The front USB port, on the other hand, is convenient when¬†you just want to temporarily connect something like a camera. I keep USB flyleads in the monitor slot beneath¬†my desk – one each for Apple, mini-USB and micro-USB – for any devices that need to be connected occasionally, and the front port here could be used in the same way.
As a powered dock, all three USB ports provide enough power to charge an iPad.
The main limitation is the number of ports. Using the front port permanently defeats the object of minimising cable clutter, so that means you’re down to just two USB ports. If you have a simple desk setup, this may be enough, but otherwise you’re going to end up connecting a separate powered USB hub into one of the ports.
Price & conclusions
So, yeah, price. Thunderbolt accessories¬†are expensive. Elgato accessories¬†are expensive. Combine the two, and you know this isn’t going to be a cheap device. It will cost you a cool $229.95, in fact. You do get a Thunderbolt cable with that, so you’re up-and-running right away, but it’s a lot of money for a cable-management device.
It’s essentially the same price as the near-identical $199.95¬†Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock once you take into account that Belkin doesn’t include a Thunderbolt cable.
Is it worth it? Only you can decide. I’m OCD enough to have commissioned a custom-made desk whose primary function is to hide¬†cables, so I place a high value¬†on a clutter-free environment. While the few seconds it takes to unplug USB and speaker cables isn’t the strongest argument for spending over two hundred bucks, I do have to say it’s one of those trivial daily irritations I was pleased to leave behind. If I didn’t have my cable-free desk, I’d probably go for it.
Filed under: Reviews Tagged: Apple, Apple Thunderbolt Display, Elgato, Elgato Thunderbolt Dock, Ethernet, HDMI, MacBook, Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt dock, USB 3.0, USB dock
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After seeing an eager Redditor¬†discuss their setup for deploying iPads online with just an Ethernet connection, I was curious myself to see if I could get my iPad Air to be wireless-less¬†as well.
It’s obviously not an ideal way to use a tablet in 2014, as it’s probably easier and cheaper to travel with an inexpensive router than the equipment required to get your iPad wired in. But if you have the equipment lying around or just want to experience the proof-of-concept for yourself, it’s certainly a strange thing to witness.
Check below for the setup I used as well as my video experience.
Overall, it’s really not a reliable way to connect to the Internet (and that’s without considering the inconvenience and potential expense) because it just doesn’t work 100% of the time. Simply put, you can’t just unplug it and plug it back in and expect it to work. It’s quite apparent that iOS isn’t designed to entertain this experience.
Here’s what connecting an iPad to Ethernet requires:
-Any iPad (but you already knew that) –¬†just disable cellular data and wifi
-USB to Ethernet (I had one handy that I hardly use for my MacBook Air)
-Internet connection (but you also already knew that, right?)
Connect your equipment in that order if you should be good to go. You will want to either put your iPad in Airplane Mode or manually disable wifi and cellular data before you can really try the proof-of-concept.
In my experience, it would only work if your iPad gave you a warning the it did not recognize or support the USB to Ethernet adapter. On the first attempt, the warning prompted as soon as I plugged it in, but after unplugging and replugging it back it, the iPad did not recognize the connection. Rebooting the iPad solved the problem, but this just speaks to the overall wonkiness of such a setup.
Performance wise, my network speed was actually right on par with what my ISP advertises. Moving back to wifi lost about 10 Mbps and 1/3 of the already low upload, but this certainly isn’t a practical setup in the least.
And without further ado, my hands-on experience with connecting my iPad Air to the Internet via Ethernet only:
Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Ethernet, hack, iPad, Reddit, Using iPad with Ethernet
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Review: LandingZone‚Äôs Secure MacBook Air dock ‚Äď adds Kensington Lock, Ethernet, USB ports in seconds
I’ve been using the $99 LandingZone 2.0 LITE 13″ Secure Docking Station¬†for the past couple weeks to dock my MacBook Air when I use it at my desk. Until now, when I got to my desk, I would manually¬†plug in MagSafe power, USB hub and sometimes audio jacks ‚Äď which isn’t a huge pain, but it did add time time and clutter to my workflow.
LandingZone, which started as a Kickstarter project but is now in full production, has a complete solution in a white plastic/steel dock that allows you to secure your MacBook Air, and within seconds, have Ethernet, a 4 port USB hub, power and MiniDisplay Port outs ready for use.
I work at home so I don’t have a Kensington lock but that is one of the focal points of this device and it is pretty sturdy so I’d imagine it would put up a good fight if someone tried to take it. It uses the USB/MagSafe/Thunderbolt ports as a way to secure the machine. That’s a huge bonus since MacBook Airs and Retina MacBook Pros don’t have the ability to get locked down by default.
In practical use it works great. You put your Air in the dock where the little rubber feet go. Matching up USB ports the first few times takes a couple of extra seconds but gets easy after a few tries. You then squeeze the MagSafe, USBx2 and Display Ports onto the Air and boom you are done. There is a loop at the back which makes ejecting the Air extremely simple (so long as you aren’t a crook).
My one gripe is that there is no USB->3.5mm AUX port on the back. I have analog desktop speakers and I still have to plug those in on the side when setting up my Air. I guess I could get USB speakers (or Bluetooth) and plug the adapter into one of the open USB ports.
I thought I’d dislike the added angle of the keyboard (the dock raises the back of the Air up about a half inch) but it is actually better and more like Apple’s Wireless Keyboard, which I enjoy. ¬†Also, since my Air is only USB2, LandingZone only supplies a 100Mb Ethernet connection. However, the more expensive LandingZone docks for older and new MacBook Airs come with Thunderbolt passthrough which allows for faster connections.
All in all, this is a no brainer for those who work in public spaces. I might just keep mine at the house without a lock because it makes docking so easy.
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We have played with and enjoyed a few products from Kanex in the past, and today the company showed off its latest USB 3.0 charging solution at Macworld with the DualRole. The product is a super lightweight and very portable bus-powered USB3 hub that packs three extra USB 3 ports and a Gigabit Ethernet adapter. That means you’ll be able to add a Gigabit Ethernet adapter to your Retina MacBook Pro or MacBook Air and have an extra three USB ports on hand.
9to5Mac went hands-on with the DualRole today during Macworld, and we definitely want one for ourselves. Anyone who travels knows how nice it is to connect via Ethernet when hotel Wi-Fi gets sketchy, and it’s certainly nice to be able to carry around an additional three USB 3.0 ports in your pocket at the same time. DualRole also provided an optional 5V power adapter to offer a little extra power to the USB ports, and the built-in cable tucks away nicely when not in use. DualRole is selling for $69 through the Kanex website, but it should also land next to the company’s lineup of other solid products on Amazon shortly.
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For Americans, coverage of the Olympics in London is mainly limited to NBC’s video stream offerings. Unfortunately, the network’s coverage, especially online, is receiving a ton of complaints as witnessed by the #nbcfail hashtag on Twitter. Fortunately, there is a way to bypass NBC altogether and take advantage of the BBC’s official live stream coverage¬†from inside the U.S.¬†of almost every major event. There is not much to it; all you have to do is use a DNS routing service to get around the BBC’s region blocked streams. Below is a quick guide courtesy of Lifehacker¬†that uses the Unblock Us service. It is free for a week, and then it is $5 for the month.
NBC is failing to deliver comprehensive Olympic coverage on both TV & internet #nbcfail—
mia farrow (@MiaFarrow) July 31, 2012
First, you will have to sign up for the service on its website. Once that is finished, you can configure the service for BBC using the steps below:
- Open System Preferences > Network
- Select either Wi-Fi (for wireless) or Ethernet (for wired)
- Select Advanced > DNS
- Click the plus symbol and add these two DNS servers:
- Reboot your computer
The service will route all of your browser traffic, so it is probably best to switch back when not viewing Olympics coverage. This is by far one of the quickest methods of accessing BBC streams.
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