I have backed a number of different items on Kickstarter to varying success, in this post I wanted to talk about a USB Hub / Charger called the Gadge Hub which I backed and received not that long ago. The post on the Kickstarter page reports the device as “100W GaN Charger & 9-in-1 SSD Hub | Mac, Win, iOS, Android“. These are just my own experiences, yours may be different.

Brief Primer on Kickstarter:

For those who are not aware of Kickstarter, it is a crowdfunding platform where backers usually contribute (or ‘back') a campaign which helps the campaign creators get enough funding to create their product and bring it to life with the expectation that the backer will receive a product at the end relative to how much they backed and the level, this amount is usually less than what the predicted retail cost will be. For example I backed this campaign at a tier (Super early bird @ $99 USD) that provides me with a Gadge Hub however, there are higher and lower levels that can be backed. The important note is though that Kickstarter is not guaranteed, so there are a number of stories where backers contributed to a campaign, but because of a number of reasons, the company went bankrupt and the items were never delivered, so as always do your own due diligence and know there is a level of risk associated with Kickstarter.

The Physical Device:

The Gadge Hub is a combination of a USB-C charger (supplying up to 100W) in addition to being a USB-C hub. Whilst there are a handful of these devices around, and I have backed others; the reason that I found this device interesting is that it also includes an SSD enclosure within the case allowing you to install an SSD (M Key, or B&M Key; 2230, 2242, 2260 or 2280). The addition of the SSD enclosure means you don't need to worry about having to carry other cables and drives which makes life much easier when you are travelling and space may be limited (e.g. on carry on luggage).

The device itself is approximately 105 x 105 x 41mm, it has an IEC cable (one of the figure 8 plugs) that plugs into the unit which supports an input power of 100 – 240V but can be used without being plugged in as a USB Hub, just without charging the device of course. It is also worth noting that there were not cables supported for where I live (Australia) however, I was able to just replace the IEC cable provided with my own and the device worked fine.

With an 2TB SSD drive added (which I purchased myself), this has become an essential travel companion for me, allowing me to store my important files and bring them with me wherever I go, and also to allow me to keep my USB-C devices, and my other devices charged (through the USB-A port).

The Ports & Features:

The Gadge hub is reported as an 8-in-1 device, it has the following ports / connectivity:

  • Auto-selecting 2.5Gbps / 1000Mbps / 100Mbps Ethernet Port
  • 5Gbps USB-A Port
  • 3 x USB-C Ports
    • USB-C1 Supplies Data & Power, 80W Power Delivery
    • USB-C2 Supplies Power up to 20W
    • USB-C3 Supplies Data & Power, 5W Power Delivery
  • SD Card Reader (UHS-II)
  • HDMI Port (Up to 4K@60Hz)
  • SSD Enclosure

Photos:

Note, I have been using the device so that is why it is a bit dirty, I also wrote on the case which USB port was for what since that was not clearly labelled which in my mind is a bit of a dissapointment.

My Experience:

Whilst I have only had the device for a week or so, overall my experience has been fairly good, the device is easy to use and has become an important part of my workflow. In my case I am using the device with a DELL XPS 13 and an iPad Pro.

To be able to use the device with an iPad and the self installed SSD, I had to format the SSD drive as ExFAT to allow me to use it in the iPad as well as the PC.

The device is not small, but given the functionality I can live with the increased size, especially given it is supplying power to my devices and also providing me with an SSD drive at the same time. There are a few things I did note though which are worth being aware of:

  • The SSD drive sits hard against a metal slide which acts as the heatsink, make sure you are not obstructing the flow of this as it can get very hot. I had an external HDD sitting on top of the unit by mistake whilst I was copying data from the external HDD to the internal SSD and at an estimate I would say it got to around 70 – 80 Deg C so fairly hot.
  • There are no labels on the unit for each of the ports, for me this is a major failing as it can be hard to tell if you have plugged into the right port. Over this this is something that I will get used to but for now I have put on the unit some Dymo labels using a label maker so I know which port is which.
  • You need to be careful you are using the right USB-C cable, with these higher speed hubs they are very particular about the USB-C cable that is being used from the hub to the device, you can order a supported USB-C cable (which I recommend), but from memory it needs to be a USB 3.1 Gen 4 with E-Mark

If you can live with the limitations above, I would recommend this device to others.

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