Connect all your stuff and charge your Chromebook with this handy hub.

I am finding this Aukey USB-C hub is a really great gadget for my Acer Chromebook 14. Not because it adds any specific ports or does a thing I can't do with my Chromebook another way, but because it's an all-in-one solution that turns my Chromebook into a desktop machine.

Once set up you plug in one cable and have it all.

Chromebooks are designed to be a portable way to get to the internet. But as anyone with a Chromebox will tell you, they can make for a fine desktop machine. The biggest drawback, at least for me, is plugging everything in when I'm at my desk because I can just pop it open and use it instead. It's totally worth it when you connect to a nice monitor or your favorite keyboard and mouse. But sometimes, lazy just wins.

Not anymore. Now I just connect one USB-C cable and have access to my monitor, an Ethernet connection, my keyboard and mouse and any backup drives I might want to use. And I can charge my Chromebook at the same time!

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What you get when you connect the multiport USB-C hub to your Chromebook (or MacBook)

  • 4K 30Hz HDMI out or 1080p over VGA
  • An RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Two USB 3.0 ports (USB-A legacy)
  • USB-C port with Power Delivery

There's no mystery or magic at play here. Laptop users have been using small docking solutions when they want to have a more traditional sit-down experience since forever. And your Chromebook is a laptop when all is said and done. It's a convenient and relatively cheap way to use the same computer all the time. Simply connect your peripherals to the hub, supply power to the USB-C port if you want to, and when you connect to your Chromebook everything just works. I've been using it with an HDMI cable, and Ethernet connection and a Logitech unifying receiver for my mouse and keyboard and think it's one of the best little gadgets I've used in a long time.

This is why we love USB-C.

The USB-C Power Delivery feature really puts its usefulness over the edge. The Hub includes one USB-C port that you can use to connect a USB-C peripheral, like a thumb drive. Because of the way USB-C PD works, you can also plug a compatible charger into the port and provide power for the other USB ports as well as the Chromebook it's attached to. This is great if you only have one port, and a reason why the entire industry is moving to USB-C.

Best of all, it's still a small USB-C hub. It will fit into your bag or briefcase and you can carry it with you if you'll need this sort of connectivity outside of your house or office. I can see this being pretty useful for anyone giving a presentation, as power, a projector, and a wireless pointer can all be attached with no worries. You do need a Chromebook (or any laptop) with a proper USB-C port but most any laptop you buy now will have that covered.

Android compatibility

A lot of us will instantly wonder how this works with an Android phone. The answer is "it depends".

A phone with a proper USB-C connector sees the hub and provides power via USB to it. Things like mice, keyboards, thumb drives and other "dumb" devices work with no problems. The good stuff that you might want for your phone are a little different.

You need to have a phone with USB-C and video out through USB support for it to even have a chance to mirror your display. I haven't found one that does the trick yet, but there is still a long list of phones to try. For now, I'll say it doesn;t work and you shouldn't buy it with that in mind.

Ethernet is the same story. You need to have a phone with support for ethernet over USB (most Androids have this) and has driver support for the Realtek 8152 chipset. Some phones will have this while others won't. I've found phones with support for one of the requirements, but not run across one that can handle network over USB-C and has the Realtek chip support. Don't buy this for Ethernet for your phone. Aukey does provide the driver files needed, but installing them requires you build them from source and install them as kernel modules, which means rooted phones and a lot of knowledge is needed.

Should you buy it?

If you have a newer Chromebook like my Acer Chromebook 14 or a MacBook, heck yes. It's not super cheap at $85 but it's solid (made from a chunk of aluminum!) and will last as long as your laptop does. The same goes for any Windows laptop where ports are at a premium or you just want a "docking station" solution. It's one of those products that I would spend my own money on after trying it because I find it so useful.

This is awesome for a Chromebook, not so much for a phone.

If you're just looking for a way to connect a mouse or have Ethernet on your phone, there are cheaper solutions that were designed for just that. Something like this one for $30 that works just fine with the Pixel phones and the Pixel C will do the trick.

Always pick the right tool for the job, and if you want a simple all-in-one connectivity solution for your laptop, the Aukey multiport USB-C hub is a great tool.