Plugable launches tiny USB-C Cube docking station for Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS
So, let's have a quick geometry lesson, OK? A cube is a six-sided 3D object where all sides are exactly the same size. Think of the Rubik's cube, for instance, or a common six-sided die. This should be common knowledge to most folks, and even without measuring, people can typically look at a box and recognize if it is a cube.
That's why it is so puzzling that Plugable's latest USB-C docking station is called "Cube." The dimensions of the dock (model UD-Cube) are 6.4 x 5.8 x 3.5 cm. Not even close to having all sides be equal! Oh well. Misnomer aside, the diminutive device looks rather impressive -- it is quite remarkable to see all of these ports crammed into a tiny docking station. While Cube isn't necessarily designed for mobile use, the charger and the dock are both small enough to fit into a bag without issue -- you can take it on the go.
"At just 2.5 x 2.3 x 1.4 inches, The Cube is Plugable’s smallest docking station on the market. Compatible with Mac and Windows laptops and tablets with Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports, The Cube includes one HDMI, one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, and Gigabit Ethernet for expanded connectivity. The docking station helps users increase functionality, usability and flexibility of supported supported USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 systems," says Plugable.
The company further says, "The HDMI port on The Cube is powered through USB-C Alternate Mode (Alt Mode), which allows for native level display performance up to the host system's graphics capabilities. The Cube is self-powered to function with or without its power brick. This makes it beautifully functional both on the desk and optionally on the road. Note that in exchange for this flexibility, The Cube will not charge your laptop and is not for laptops like the basic 12-inch MacBook that only have a single USB-C port for both power and peripherals."
While the USB-C Cube seems to be a nice docking station, it does have some shortcomings. First of all, the HDMI port requires USB-C, so the dock cannot be used with a Type-A adapter. In other words, if your laptop doesn't have USB-C, look elsewhere. While it can do 4K, it is limited to 30Hz (lower resolutions support 60Hz, though). Strangely, The USB-C port is on the front, leading to poor cable management.
Sadly, USB-C Cube won't charge your laptop or tablet either, even if the computer supports USB charging -- the charger is simply not powerful enough. There are also no audio ports for things like headphones, speakers, or a microphone. You would need to leverage a USB-A to 3.5mm dongle, such as this one here.
The most bizarre aspect of the Plugable USB-C Cube, however, is the bright blue LED light. As soon as it is connected to power, a blue ring that surrounds the device immediately glows. This is regardless of whether a computer is connected to it. Essentially, unless you pull the power cord out of it, it will be shining brightly 24/7. This may annoy some folks, as there is no way to turn it off. I would prefer that the light only turn on when a device is connected, but oh well. You can see the light in the below unboxing video.
Despite the aforementioned negatives, if your desire is a small home docking station to save desk space, the Plugable USB-C Cube seemingly deserves your attention. The company's products are consistently good while being affordable. It looks damn cool too.
If you want to buy your own, you can get it on Amazon here now for just $69.95 after applying the $10 coupon. This affordable price may be enough to allow you to overlook any negatives.