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Review TBT3-UDZ Plugable Thunderbolt AND USB-C Universal Combo Dock – Lots of Ports!


hey everybody it’s lon seidman and we’re taking a look today at a new dock from plugable this is a thunderbolt dock but it also works with usb type-c computers it’s pretty universal in that way and it’s got the best selection of ports that i’ve seen on a dock in quite some time it kind of checks all the boxes for me for one of these usbc docking stations we’re going to get into this in just a second but before we do i want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that this came in free of charge from plugable however all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own no one is paying for this review nor is anyone reviewing it or approving it before it gets uploaded so let’s get into it now and see what this docking station is all about so we’re going to show you how this works with my macbook air here in a second but before we do i want to talk about what ports are compatible and we’re also going to be looking at this microsoft surface laptop go in this video so what you need are one of these usb type-c ports or a thunderbolt 3 port they look the same and this can be a very confusing thing the good news is is that this dock works with both so you don’t have to worry about it not working if you’ve got one of these ports on board but every laptop is made a little differently and we’re going to talk about that in a little bit now it doesn’t work though with computers that only have these larger usb 3 ports or usb 2 ports so you definitely need one of these usb type-c connectors in order for all of this to work properly and what we’ve got now of course is my macbook air this has thunderbolt on board and we’re going to take the cable that came with the dock and plug it into the connector here on the back and i’ll show you all the different ports that you get in a second and when i plug this in this laptop will start charging you just heard that charge ding come up it’s going to start charging through this cable the laptop is going to send its video out to the monitor through that cable i have a little

track pad here attached to it as well and let me just turn it on and show you how that works so what we’re going to do here is just click continue on the mac and i can move uh windows between things as well so all all of that is happening through a cable here and that’s what’s so cool about these docks you can bring your laptop home plug it in and you essentially have a desktop let’s take a look now and see what ports are on this and then we’ll talk about some things you have to think about and learn about your computer before hooking it up to one of these docks all right so let’s take a look at the front of the dock here and we’ve got two slots for sd cards you’ve got a micro sd card slot and a larger regular sd card slot and of course you can use both at the same time and these will read the memory cards from your camera or other devices that’s really nice to have on board next to it you have another usb type-c port now note that this is data only so this won’t send video out to another device but you can plug in your usb hard drives into this port here and a lot of the newer external ssds like the sandisk we reviewed recently have the faster 10 gigabits per second speed so both ports here in the front both this larger usb a port and this usb c port support that 10 gigabit throughput so that’s where you’ll want to plug in those high performance ssds and a little bit earlier we tested a sandisk extreme pro and we were getting just a little short of its typical performance when it’s directly connected but it was still doing about seven gigabits per second out of that port now you’re going to notice here there’s a little icon that looks like a lightning bolt next to the usb a port and what that means is that this port will charge your phone even if your computer is

off or disconnected from the dock so this is a nice little charging port for your phone and it’s convenient of course because it’s on the front you also have an audio output here this will actually work with a headset so your mic can go in and your audio can go out the only issue i found on these docs and this one is no exception is that the quality of the audio hardware is not probably as good as what you have on your computer already so i would stick to your computer’s own headphone jack if you have one but it’s nice though to have speakers hooked up to this and if you don’t care about audio quality all that much you can just plug in one cable and get audio out to your speakers all your hard drives connected all that good stuff including your memory cards but there’s more here on the back and your power connector goes in here now what’s really neat about this dock is that it supports 96 watts of power output back to your laptop and that should be enough to charge most laptops out there although if you’ve got one of these higher powered high performance gaming laptops it’s probably not enough for those but it is enough for the macbook pro at least the one that’s available at the time i’m shooting this video and certainly many of the other sub notebooks out there a lot of those laptops come in at around 60 watts of power through their power adapters and this will have plenty of power for those and you don’t have to worry about this being more than what your laptop power adapter has your laptop’s only going to take what it needs but it can go up to a maximum of 96 watts which is really great to see here now next to the power connector this is the connector that plugs into your computer so on my macbook here when we connected it up a second ago that’s the cable connection that we used now this dock even though it is a thunderbolt dock does not support thunderbolt passthrough so once

you plug this in you can’t connect any other thunderbolt devices to the dock and have them work as thunderbolt devices some docks have a pass-through this one doesn’t what’s interesting though is that it comes with a thunderbolt 3 cable this will also work on thunderbolt 4 and if you don’t have a thunderbolt computer this will work with usb type c as well so don’t go out and buy another cable the one it comes with will work with both thunderbolt and usbc computers no problem we tested both of them and you’ll see more examples of that in action in a second now next to the thunderbolt connector or usbc connector depending on the computer you’re plugging it into you have two sets of display outputs here now this has what looks like four outputs but you can only use one on each block at a time so for example if i had two hdmi monitors hooked up these display ports won’t work and vice versa so you’ve got two display port outputs here and you’ve got two hdmi outputs here and then within each block you have to choose one but it’s nice to have this choice because many docs i’ve seen out there either do one or the other so it’s good to have both here and a little bit earlier we did test this out with a 4k laptop and we were able to project across multiple screens here as you can see 60 hertz over thunderbolt at 4k and then the laptop screen also was able to maintain its own display independently of those two now we have to talk about the differing types of display options available on laptops not all are created equal and if we look at my little macbook here the one with the m1 chip that mac only supports one external display so if i hook up a second display to

this i’m not going to get what you just saw on that demo with the laptop we had hooked up to the television so you do need to do a little bit of research first to see what your device is capable of so you know what to expect and i’m going to show you the back of the box here because this is probably the only way i can demonstrate this visually now if you plug this into a thunderbolt equipped computer you can run two external displays at 4k at 60 hertz that is of course if the computer supports that but thunderbolt will allow that to happen all right now it gets trickier though when you plug it into a non-thunderbolt port and to do that demonstration here we’re going to plug in my microsoft surface laptop go which does not have a thunderbolt port but does have a usb type-c port so let’s plug it in and see what it reports back okay so we hooked up the surface laptop go here again single cable this one remember though does not have thunderbolt only usb type c and if we jump over to my display settings here you’ll see that we’ve got a 4k display running but it’s only running at 30 hertz and if i try to go higher to 60 it won’t let me because this is one of the limitations that you have over the usb type-c connection so while the thunderbolt computer we connected earlier could do two 4k displays at 60 hertz this can only support a single display at 4k over 30 hertz although some laptops will allow you to have two 1080p displays running at 60 hertz but again you have to check your manufacturer’s specs to see how many independent displays it supports so let’s jump back to the box one more time because there are some other things to think about here when you’re on that usb c

connector like we were a minute ago your usb data performance is only going to go to five gigabits per second max whereas on thunderbolt you can use the 10 gigabit per second bandwidth out of the front two ports and there’s another little carve out here because if you have a laptop that supports something called dsc you can do two 4k displays at 60 hertz over your usb type-c connector utilizing displayport cables and displayport 1.4 and i’m getting into the weeds here but this is exactly the kind of stuff that you need to look for on your product manual and if it doesn’t have this then reach out to your manufacturer and you should also note that some laptops don’t support display output over their usb c port at all so again really important to figure out what you got before you jump into this so you know what to expect i have found though that apple computers equipped with thunderbolt tend to work really well with these docks and i’ve been using that in my own workflow for quite some time all right now we got the display stuff out of the way here let’s go over the rest of the ports on this you’ve got gigabit ethernet here on the back so you can hardwire your computer to the network when you’re plugged in i found the performance on this was pretty close to the dedicated usb ethernet adapters that i typically use it was running about 20 megabits per second shy of those

devices but still pretty good for what it is and the convenience is there and it’s certainly going to be faster than wi-fi so that was a good port there and then you’ve got five usb ports here and these all run at the five gigabit per second speed so they’re usb 3 ports but this is where i would plug in devices like printers and keyboards and mice and stuff i’ve got my little wireless dongle for my keyboard trackpad combo that goes in there so i would put those devices on the back and then your higher speed devices here on the front one last thing on this is that you have a kensington lock here so you can lock the dock down on your desk because this might be something you have in a cubicle or some place where you’ve got people coming in all the time with different computers you can lock this down and then due to the cross compatibility between usbc and thunderbolt no matter what they’ve got it seems to work the power adapter is rather large as you can see here this is i’ll switch to my other view a 170 watt adapter so you’ve got about 100 watts allocated for the computer and then you’ve still got some power budget for the other devices you connect so it should be able to power your external hard drives and whatnot with plenty of budget for that so all together pretty nicely constructed you can use it either in a horizontal configuration or a vertical one and they give you a really nice solid base here to snap it into so you can have it kind of rest like this and this base has got a good amount of weight to it it doesn’t move around all that much so really nice little package here all together let’s take a look now at some other things we plugged into it to see how those worked so we’re going to start off here with my ipad pro now the ipad pro and the new ipad air have usb-c so if we plug that cable in we’ll get the ethernet connected via the ethernet port on the back and my display will start working and of course i have hooked up this keyboard and trackpad combo

so i can actually kind of use this as a pc if i wanted to so we’ll go over to nasa.gov here and just load up the nasa home page and there you go one thing i found with the ipads that they never fill up your 4k or 1080p display they just kind of mirror the display here but very nice low latency works out very nicely now we also hooked up my chromebook i’ve got a google pixel book go that in full disclosure google sent to the channel free of charge a little while back that one worked just fine the display worked ethernet worked all the usb stuff worked as well so no issues with that we also tested out dex on a samsung galaxy s8 and this of course is that desktop interface that pops up when you plug your phone into a display and of course we got the ethernet to work and the keyboard and trackpad worked over usb as well so really good solution i think for dex users and that’s what’s kind of nice about this is that you can just plug in whatever you got and it should work provided you’ve got a usbc port on board now for the techies out there you might be wondering how everything is wired up inside and like other docs everything on this dock is essentially a usb device that is sharing the bandwidth with all the other stuff on it so there is a maximum of 10 gigabits per second of bandwidth available to the ports and the ethernet and the card reader here and they all share that bandwidth even if you’re connecting over thunderbolt but what they did is they separated things out a bit so there is a separate usb hub for the five ports on the back and again this is running at five gigabits per second so all those devices share five gigabits of bandwidth and then the card reader and the ethernet adapter are on a different hub so if you’re running the card reader full blast you’re

not going to necessarily impact something that might be connected to one of the usb ports on the back and of course these two ports on the front here sit at the top of the chain but again it’s only 10 gigabits per second in total going back to the computer overall though i think it’s a really nice dock the only thing lacking for me is the thunderbolt pass-through but otherwise it checks all the boxes it’s got a lot of ports on it very flexible especially for video connections and a lot of power going back out to the laptop at 96 watts so altogether a really solid dock and if you’re looking for something for your new macbook or for an another computer that you just want to make into a desktop when you’re at home one of these is really flexible and this one has a lot of flexibility built right in that’s going to do it for now until next time this is lon seidman thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the london tv supporters including gold level supporters brian parker jim peter tom albrecht and chris allegretta if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to lawn dot tv support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

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