Because of the MacBook Pro's reliance on USB-C in order to use any number of accessories, you're probably going to end up carrying a lot of dongles around. Whether you need access to an SD card reader, a CF card reader (for the video professionals out there), additional USB 3.0 drives, HDMI-out, or anything else, it's going to be a hassle to make sure you have everything you need for a day at the office or out in the field shooting photos or video. And while individual dongles are relatively cheap when you buy them one-by-one, there is one major problem: once you buy six or seven individual dongles, especially more specific ones, they can get expensive quickly—not to mention a bit unsightly.
For that reason, we're big fans of the CharJenPro MacSTICK adapter that you can grab from Amazon for under $85. The product plugs into the left (or right, if you turn it over) side of your laptop, taking up both USB-C ports along the side of your MacBook Pro. In exchange for your two ports, you get another two USB-C ports using pass-through, two standard USB-3.0 ports capable of speeds up to 5Gbps, an SD card reader, and a microSD card reader. Yes, it's a bit of a steep asking price—you won't be saving much money compared to buying individual adapters. But the MacSTICK competes in two specific areas that dongles simply can't. First: in exchange for your two USB-C ports, you gain access to two more USB-C ports, meaning you won't lose the ability to charge your laptop. Only one of the ports on the MacSTICK is Thunderbolt 3 compatible, so expect to use that specific port for video out, fast data transfers, or charging. The other port is a standard USB-C port, used for data transfer only.
The second reason the MacSTICK succeeds is its design: while it might not blend perfectly into the side of your MacBook Pro, it's certainly far more sleek than using a number of USB-C dongles to have cables and ports coming out of your laptop. The MacSTICK is available in both silver and dark gray, making it the perfect accessory to match your MacBook Pro no matter what color you're using. When the laptop is open, it's designed to be nearly flush with the speaker grills on each laptop, creating a far-more natural feel than any dongle ever could. And while the MacSTICK doesn't cover every port you could ever need, being able to add two USB 3.0 ports along with an SD card and microSD card reader more or less fills in the needs most consumers face every day. In a second-generation product, we'd love to see HDMI added, but obviously this might create problems with supplying two USB-C ports on the product.
The MacSTICK is a great solution to the problem created by Apple's reliance on USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 to handle every single process on the laptop. While the product is pricey, you can't beat the design and compactness of what's offered here. You won't be able to get away from dongles entirely—especially if you use HDMI in any capacity—but for most users, the MacSTICK will allow them to use their laptop in everyday business settings without having to make sure they brought the right dongle for the job.
- Lots of ports in a small, sleek package
- Colors match the MacBook Pro well
- Retains two USB-C ports
- Only one Thunderbolt 3-compatible port
- No HDMI output