Fun With Dongles or…The Apple “Showcase”

apple_dvi_adapterThe new 12″ MacBook has been mocked by many for it’s paltry connectivity options, or should I say option. No MagSafe connector, no Thunderbolt, no HDMI, no SD card slot, heck it doesn’t even have a standard USB port. It only has a single USB-C port and a headphone jack. The good news is that USB-C is a standard connector, nothing proprietary about it. In theory we’ll have access to a plethora of peripherals using the new standard, and we can buy dongles for whatever we want.

It’s not like we haven’t had to buy dongles in the past. I have Mini-Display Port adapters for HDMI, DVI, and VGA, and 30pin adapters for my old iOS devices too. I keep them in a nice bundle that I bring whenever I have to go present. Imagine my delight when I spoke at the SBAMUG, a local Mac User Group when they had Wifi and a lovely AppleTV so I didn’t need any dongles.

But next week for Macstock in Chicago, there’s no AppleTV, only a VGA projector. I don’t have a USB-C to VGA adapter and the idea of buying backwards in time to such an old connector makes me cringe. Apple does sell one, but the darn thing is $79! Sure you get a passthrough USB-C port so you can still charge your MacBook if you need to (but you never need to) and a “regular” USB-A port but still, $79 for that?

monoprice_adapter USB-C to HDMILuckily Mike Potter, the awesome organizer of Macstock, let me know that he’s got a VGA to HDMI adapter, so maybe I could go with HDMI so I’m not buying 1972 technology. In the Apple “Store” (and I’m using quotes around the word store) they sell a digital video adapter that turns USB-C into HDMI, USB-A and passthrough USB-C. That sounds much better, even though it’s still $79. Macstock is coming up quick so I decided I’d just pop over to the Apple Store and buy it.

What a quaint idea. I feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy keeps pulling the football away from him. I keep thinking that the Apple store is actually a store. So far I couldn’t buy a watch, I couldn’t buy a watch band, couldn’t buy a Mac mini, couldn’t buy a Macbook…and now I can’t buy a dongle in the store. Seriously. In 8 days I could have it delivere to the store but actually buy something in the store? Nope. It’s the Apple Showcase. I will not call it a store any longer. I even sent a worded a very stern tweet to Angela Ahrendts, Senior VP of Retail at Apple.

My next idea was to buy a USB-C to Mini Displayport adapter, then I could plug in one of my old adapters to go Mini Displayport to VGA. Yeah, that would be cool if it existed, but as far and wide as I looked I couldn’t find one..

I finally gave up and bought a $35 USB-C to HDMI adapter from Monoprice, and it got to me in two days. Living on the bleeding edge as I do, I understand that it will be harder to find peripherals but it frosts my shorts that Apple, who sold me the device, can’t even get me adapters in a reasonable length of time!

6 thoughts on “Fun With Dongles or…The Apple “Showcase”

  1. Don - June 10, 2015

    I understand the frustrations with the “showcase” feeling you get from the Apple Store. I think it looks more like a warehouse of people than anything else.

    Have you tried traveling with an Apple TV? I think they are fantastic and let you present wirelessly with a laptop or iOS device.

  2. podfeet - June 10, 2015

    I thought about that Don but there’s no wifi where I’m presenting. I would have considered making an ad hoc network for it from my Mac, but Apple took away any semblance of security on ad hoc networks.

    I’ve brought an AppleTV with me a bunch of times on travel and not once has the TV been able to give me access to the HDMI port. For some reason the hotels disable them.

  3. Arlene - June 11, 2015

    I fly quite a lot, and today after trudging through airports going coast to coast toting my 15 inch MacBook Pro, I stopped at the Apple Store on the way home from the airport and bought the 1.2 GHz MacBook (influenced by your’s and David Sparks’s reviews) along with the USB/HDMI adapter. I have an 11″ 2011 MacBook Air that I bought and used for travel, but the lack of screen real estate and non-retina made it painful to do much other than move photos from an SD card to portable hard drive. Much of the work I try to get done during flying time needs a better screen while more CPU intensive work can usually wait until I am home. In your travels looking for adapters, did you see any adapters or hubs that would allow simultaneous use of a card reader (SD and CF) and a USB external hard drive? I want to be able to substitute the MacBook for the Air in the ultralight backpack that I use with my DSLR for traveling but need to be able to do photo transfers.

  4. podfeet - June 11, 2015

    Hey Arlene – bet you’ll love it! I haven’t officially reviewed it but I did buy a dongle you might like. It’s got 2 USB 3 ports on one side, 2 card reader slots that support SDHC, SDXC, MicroSD, TF Card, plus a gigabit Ethernet port. It’s bus powered (good thing!)

    It’s $22 right now on Amazon:

    For some reason it took over two weeks to ship. I had a slight problem with it at first (which turned out to be operator trouble) and when I contacted the company they were SUPER responsive and helpful in 3 email exchanges. Pretty great for a $22 device.

    Your description of the 11″ MacBook Air is exactly what I suspected I’d feel if I’d bought it. Let us know how you get on with the new MacBook.

  5. Arlene - June 11, 2015

    Thanks for the dongle suggestion. I will check it out (from you affiliate link of course)…still have to migrate stuff to get it set up but will be trying it out on a road trip in a coup,e of weeks.

  6. podfeet - June 11, 2015

    Arlene – I’m taking my first road trip with the new baby tomorrow. I have been trying to find a girly bag that would take my diminutive MacBook and my diminutive mirrorless camera but so far I seem to only find huge bags. I bought one that looks beautiful but it’s still huge. Might have to go back to using backpacks after all.

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