Uni 8-In-1 USB-C Hub in its natural environmentSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

USB-C hubs are one of those things that most people don't really pay attention to in their home office, especially for a Chromebook. You connect your sweet mechanical keyboard, maybe an Ethernet cable or external monitor, and a trusty trackball, and then plug it into your Chromebook and get on with your work. The problem here is that most USB-C hubs come with horribly short, permanently attached cables, which means that if your Chromebook is on a laptop riser — or an old box of CDs, like mine — these hubs are going to be dangling off the side and tugging on your Chromebook's USB-C port all day every day.

I lived with this for the better part of two years before I found my sanity in a perfect little package from Uni, a little-known accessory maker that was gearing up to launch its first USB-C hubs on Kickstarter. That Kickstarter came and went, and those hubs are now on Amazon for all to buy. And they're the hubs I've used and abused at home and on the go ever since, because not only are they the best docking station for all of us working from home on a budget, but they're also freaking fantastic hubs to travel with, too.

My favorite docking station

Uni 8-in-1 USB-C Hub

Detachable, durable, and ready to work.

Thanks to the cable being detachable and swappable on the Uni USB-C Hub, you can use it as a compact docking station at home even more easily than you can use it as a travel-ready hub when you're off at conferences and conventions.

Why it beats dedicated docking stations for Chrome OS

Work From Home can be fun or frustratingSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central Can you hear me now?

I've used dedicated, purpose-built docking stations with Chromebooks before, and while the ports on them work just as good as the Uni, they all start to fall down when you're trying to listen to videos or join a Google Meet when you're running late. See, when an external headphone/microphone option is plugged into a Chromebook, the system will default to it. When I'm plugging in my USB mic for a meeting or podcast appearance, that's just fine.

Boo hiss headphone jacksSource: Plugable

The problem is that when you plug in a docking station — most if not all of which have a 3.5mm audio combo jack — but don't immediately plug in headphones or speakers, Chrome OS will pipe the audio to the headphone jack even if nothing's plugged into it. This is why I include a special note at the bottom of my Best USB-C Hubs for Chromebooks guide that if you get a hub with a headphone jack on it, you may have to manually set the audio back to your Chromebook's speakers when you don't have headphones plugged in.

Audio jacks aren't standard on USB-C hubs, but they are standard on USB-C docking stations. However, most USB-C hubs are too short to sit a reasonable distance from your laptop and keep it from looking like a haphazard mess.

Uni solves both of these problems with something I well as truly wish more hubs did: making the output cable detachable.

BYOC: Bring Your Own Cable

Uni 8-In-1 USB-C HubSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central Small port, big possibilities

Uni includes an 8-inch cable with its cables, which is longer than the 4-6-inch cables most hubs stick you with, but the better news is that you can swap that cable out for something longer so that you can squirrel all your cables back to the corner where they belong. With Ethernet, pass-through charging, and three USB-A peripherals plugged in, I can still use just about any C-to-C cable I have lying around with my Uni hub.

I only switch over to a 10Gbps or 20Gbps cable when I'm using the HDMI output on my Uni hubs — something I should do more often, but don't because the only things I could hook it up to are my big-screen TVs. Otherwise, just about any USB-C cable in my stable can do in a pinch.

Uni 8-In-1 and 6-in-1 USB-C HubsSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

Short cable when you're on the road, long cable when you're home at the desk.

Not only does this mean that I have more flexibility at home, but it also means that when I'm packing for a trip, I can pack fewer cables. I bring two C-to-C cables — to either charge my phone and Chromebook at the same time or run from wall charger to Uni hub to Chromebook — and I bring a C to A cable for the devices that won't work with Power Delivery charging. That's all I need, and of course, not having a permanently attached cable makes the Uni hub easier to squeeze into the nesting makeup bags I use as gear organizers when I travel.

I travel with Uni's 6-in-1 model more often than then 8-in-1 because I don't often need Ethernet when I travel, and the 6-in-1 has the footprint of a credit card and the pocketability of a Zippo lighter. I can still plug in what I need through it — a flash drive with briefing materials and my trackball mouse — but I can fit in my front pocket as easily as it can fit in my gear bag. The 8-in-1 is barely bigger, the size of an Altoids case.

Uni 8-In-1 USB-C Hub in useSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

If you're trying to turn your makeshift home office into something a little less slapdash, Uni's USB-C hub can be an excellent addition to your setup, especially if you're looking for something to help keep your cable situation more presentable. It's neat, tidy, and one of the more affordable 8-in-1 USB-C hubs on the market that I trust.

My favorite docking station

Uni 8-in-1 USB-C Hub

Detachable, durable, and ready to work.

Thanks to the cable being detachable and swappable on the Uni USB-C Hub, you can use it as a compact docking station at home even more easily than you can use it as a travel-ready hub when you're off at conferences and conventions.

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