Android Central Verdict
There's a lot to like about the Dockcase Smart USB-C Hub 10-in-1 Explorer Edition, especially if you want something that works with pretty much all of your devices. This USB-C from Dockcase includes a total of ten different ports, and can even be used as a dock for your Nintendo Switch. Deciding whether to get one will really come down to your budget and whether you need Thunderbolt 4.
Cool and unique design
An abundance of ports
Works with everything from Chromebooks to the Steam Deck
LCD display is extremely useful
Detachable cable is a nice touch
No USB-4 or Thunderbolt port
Why you can trust Android Central Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
If you're trying to find a good USB-C hub or portable dock, it won't take long before your head is spinning with all of the different options. And for the most part, they all do pretty much the same thing, so when a new option comes out offering something different, we tend to take notice.
That's where the Dockcase Smart Hub Explorer Edition comes in, as the company has announced its latest USB-C hub, with a bit of a different experience.
Dockcase Smart Hub Explorer Edition: Price and availability
At the time of this writing, the Dockcase Smart USB-C Hub 10-in-1 Explorer Edition is available for "pre-order" through Kickstarter. It's available in either Glossy Silver or Matte Black and will retail for $159 once it's released. But if you head over to Kickstarter to back the project, you'll save 25%, getting the Explorer Edition for $119.
The project has already blown past its pledge goal, and Dockcase states the Explorer Edition will begin shipping sometime in October 2023.
Dockcase Smart Hub Explorer Edition: What you'll like
The first thing that you'll notice about the Explorer Edition is its unique transparent design, allowing you to actually see all of the different ports and the overall layout. The body itself is made from aluminum, so it's almost always cool to the touch. There are even little vents that allow for better heat dissipation, which is important considering all of the different ports.
Speaking of which, the Explorer Edition comprises ten different ports for you to use, all of which can be used simultaneously.
- USB-C port host
- 100W PD USB-C port
- HDMI port with support for up to 8K 30FPS
- Display Port with 4K 120FPS
- 2x USB-A gen 2 ports
- 1x USB-A gen 3.2 port (10GBs speed)
- 1x USB-C 3.2 port (10GBs speed)
- Gigabit Ethernet
- SD and MicroSD slot
You'll also find a button near the SD card slots that allows you to scroll through and control the different configuration screens that appear on the built-in display. And I really appreciate the fact that Dockcase includes a cable in the box, which is apparently rated for up to 100W and is even braided.
When it comes to actually using this USB-C hub, it's been quite reliable and really doesn't require you to mess around with much. Just plug the host cable into your laptop or computer, then plug in anything else that you need, whether it's a display, SD card, or some USB-A accessories.
In fact, Dockcase's Explorer Edition "saved the day" for me recently, as I am the commissioner for a fantasy football league with a bunch of buddies from school. Normally, we just use an HDMI splitter to showcase the draft board, but one of the HDMI ports ended up not working. So, instead, I just plugged the Explorer Edition into my Surface Pro 9, hooked up power and an HDMI cable, and everything went off without a hitch.
As for more "day-to-day" usage, I've been using the Explorer Edition as a pseudo-dock for my ROG Ally, Steam Deck, and MacBook Pro, along with some of the Chromebooks I've been testing. Overall, the results have been just as I'd expected without really running into any major issues.
Dockcase Smart Hub Explorer Edition: What you won't like
While not every Chromebook, computer, or other device supports Thunderbolt, I am a bit disappointed by Dockcase's decision to forgo this inclusion. The Explorer Edition doesn't even include USB-4 speeds, so if you're planning on using this for file transfers at some point, you'll be limited to 10Gbps. For comparison, USB-4 offers a minimum of 20 Gbps, maxing out at 40 Gbps, depending on the length of the cable.
I also wish that Dockcase would have included some type of instructions or directions in the box. Why? Because there's actually a bit more that you can do through the built-in display than just showing you a bunch of information. An example of this is being able to make adjustments to the USB speeds right from the hub. But I wouldn't have known about that if it weren't for messing around and plugging different devices in.
Dockcase Smart Hub Explorer Edition: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if:
- You need a versatile USB-C hub.
- You're a big fan of transparent devices.
- You need a hub or dock that works with your portable gaming consoles, and more.
You shouldn't buy this if:
- You're on a budget.
- You don't care about having an LCD screen on a USB-C hub.
- You have an older laptop or a monitor with a non-standard aspect ratio.
By and large, the Dockcase Smart Hub Explorer Edition is going to be a bit extravagant for the majority of prospective owners. There is an abundance of good USB-C hubs, some of which even include Thunderbolt 4 and cost around the same as this one from Dockcase.
But where the Explorer Edition really excels is the transparent design, a trend that we've seen reinvigorated thanks, in part, to Nothing with devices like the Ear (2) and Phone (2). Plus, even if you never plan to tweak the settings, it's still pretty neat and convenient to have a display right on the hub. This helps to remove any of the guesswork if you run into issues when connecting your various devices.
In a world filled with a bunch of boring hubs to connect your devices, the Dockcase Explorer Edition stands out. It adopts the transparent design that's been making a come back, while offering an LCD screen to make sure that everything is properly connected.
Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.