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Adding Ports to a Portable Computer

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Q. My new Mac laptop has a headphone jack and one USB-C port for everything else. What’s the best way to connect an H.D.M.I. cable or my camera’s Secure Digital memory card without having to haul around a bunch of adapters when I travel?

A. As cloud-based file storage and wireless connections have become common, Apple’s MacBook family (and some Windows-based ultrabooks) have been shedding ports and slots, all to make a more lightweight laptop. Apple and other vendors sell individual USB-C adapters (also called dongles) to convert the port for use with standard USB connectors, H.D.M.I. video cables, Secure Digital card readers and other gear.

Individual adapters can cost as little as $10, and you have to buy them only for ports you actually need. If you have more than two jacks to convert, investing a bit more money in a USB-C dock or hub simplifies things. One way to shop for a multiport dock is to make a list of all the connections you need to use with the laptop — like multiple standard USB ports, H.D.M.I. or V.G.A. cables, and additional USB-C hardware — and then look for a model that has places to plug in everything.


The OWC USB-C Travel Dock is one option for adding a variety of additional ports to a laptop that offers only a USB-C jack or two.

The New York Times

If you need a portable dock that has both an H.D.M.I. port and an SD card reader, the OWC USB-C Travel Dock is one option; it sells for $50 and is about the size of a thick beverage coaster. The $200 Henge Stone dock is bigger and more expensive, but offers more ports. Other companies offer similar multiport docks, so shop around and compare reviews.

Wirecutter, a product-recommendation site owned by The New York Times, has a guide to picking the best USB-C hub based on specific connection needs. The site also has suggestions for Thunderbolt docks for MacBook Pro laptops and other models that use the Thunderbolt 3 technology with USB-C connectors.

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