The thin, sleek look of Apple’s new M1-powered iMacs looks great — until you need to grope around the back of the machine for a USB port to plug in an external drive, flash memory card or security key. New USB hubs from Hyper and Satechi, though, clamp onto the bottom of the machine so you get a handful of ports in a more accessible spot.
Hyper announced two models on Monday, the $50 HyperDrive 5-in-1 Hub and $80 HyperDrive 6-in-1 Hub. The first has two USB-C ports and three older-style USB-A ports, one of which offers 7.5W of charging power. The second offers one USB-C port, one SD Card slot, one MicroSD card slot, two USB-A ports, one of them with 7.5W charging, and an HDMI port on the back. Colored faceplates match the new iMacs, Hyper said.
Satechi’s $55 USB-C Clamp Hub, announced earlier in August and shipping in September in a silver color, has three USB-A ports, one USB-C port, and slots for SD and MicroSD cards. A blue-toned option will arrive in October.
Thin laptops and PCs are great, but losing ports comes at a cost for people who have peripherals. Wireless communication technology helps a lot — new printers these days connect over Wi-Fi, not USB — but it doesn’t help as much when you need to attach a backup hard drive or charge your phone.
The good news is that USB is getting faster and more capable, now matching the speeds of Intel’s Thunderbolt connectors. That eases the penalty of using external devices when your laptop or desktop doesn’t have what you need built in.