There was a time when laptops came packed with all sorts of ports. Apple led the charge on removing ports, dropping all but a single USB-C port when it introduced the 12-inch MacBook in 2015. The MacBook Pro followed suit, with only a handful of USB-C ports, while eventually even many Windows laptops followed the trend.
Even if your computer has plenty of ports, it can be annoying having to plug in several cables or dongles whenever you sit down to do some work. Companies like OWC provide feature-packed ports, but what if portability is key for you? That’s where the OWC USB-C Travel Dock comes in handy.
This is a sponsored article and was made possible by OWC. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence, even when a post is sponsored.
Who Is the OWC USB-C Travel Dock For?
While it has the word “travel” right in the name, this dock isn’t just for travelers. Whether you need extra ports, an SD card reader, or just want to consolidate your cables, this dock will come in handy. Whereas more fully-featured docks have more options, this is easier to carry and takes up less space on your desk.
This will come in extra handy if you travel for business. The OWC USB-C Travel Dock is easy to toss in your bag, and the small size makes hooking it up to your laptop on a hotel room desk easy.
When it comes to connectivity, the OWC USB-C Travel Dock gives you exactly what you’ll most likely need and not much more. You get two USB 3.1 ports, a single HDMI port, an SD card slot, and a single USB-C port.
The dock also includes its own attached USB-C cable to connect to your laptop. Older versions of the dock just left the cable hanging as a sort of “tail.” In a nice improvement, the dock now includes built-in cable management on the bottom of the device, keeping the cable neatly tucked in.
The dock offers up to 100 watts of power pass-through, up from 60 watts in the previous version. This means that with the right setup, you can plug one cable into your laptop and have your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and power connected immediately.
How to Use the OWC USB-C Travel Dock
Using the OWC USB-C Travel Dock is incredibly simple. Plug it into your laptop and plug in whatever peripherals you wish to use with it. The dock works with Windows, macOS, and Linux computers, as well as devices running Android or ChromeOS. No matter what operating system you use, there is no initial setup process.
You can use the USB-C port on the dock in two ways. If you have a laptop like a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with a USB-C power supply, you can plug the power supply into the dock, and it will power your laptop. On the other hand, the dock can also use bus power, so if you power your laptop in another way, the dock essentially frees up the USB-C port you plug it into.
The amount of features packed into such a relatively small dock are impressive. Especially when you consider the price, it’s difficult to look at the OWC USB-C Travel Dock and come away with any serious complaints.
One thing worth mentioning is the built-in USB-C cable. This is short by necessity, as otherwise the dock wouldn’t be as easy to carry around. The problem is that this short length means the cable may not reach your USB-C port if you keep your laptop on a stand or if you’re using a device like a Microsoft Surface Pro 7 where the port is somewhat higher on the device.
The dock will still work, but it will dangle from the port. This is mainly an aesthetic issue but could potentially put pressure on the port or cable. In my case, I simply placed the dock on another piece of hardware to get it to the height I needed, so this is only a minor issue. As I mentioned above, this tradeoff is worth it for the easy portability.
I personally would have traded one of the USB 3.1 ports for another USB-C port, but this is a matter of preference. You can always use a USB Type A to USB-C cable to connect USB-C peripherals.
If you frequently travel with a laptop, a dock like this is a no-brainer. Even if you don’t travel, the OWC USB-C Travel Dock, with an MSRP of $54.99, is a great way to add functionality to your laptop. Compared to an item like Apple’s USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, the Travel Dock is absolutely feature-packed, plus it costs less.
While OWC’s products are known and loved by Mac users, this isn’t only for owners of Apple computers. If you have a Windows laptop like the more recent Microsoft Surface Pro models with USB-C, this will be just as handy. Just toss it in your bag, and you’ll have it handy whenever you need it.