A major issue faced by owners of notebooks and compact SFF PCs such as the NUCs is the paucity of USB ports or even the absence of often-needed functionality like SD /microSD card slots and RJ-45 ports. Multi-function USB hubs come to the rescue here (at the cost of physical system footprint). One of the well-reviewed low-cost offerings in this market segment is Plugable's 2020 USB-C 7-in-1 Hub. This offering allowed MFDP (multi-functional Display Port) USB-C ports in a host system to support a micro-SDXC, full-sized SDXC, HDMI 1.4 (4Kp30) display output, and three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports in a small rectangular unit. While capable of being bus-powered, the hub also includes a USB charging pass-through port, allowing for up to 87W of power delivery to the host system.

Plugable's 2020 USBC-7IN1 Multi-function Hub

At CES 2021, Plugable is updating the hub with new internals and I/Os. Thanks to the inclusion of a Parade PS186 DP 1.4 to HDMI 2.0 protocol converter, the HDMI 1.4 (4Kp30) port is now replaced by a HDMI 2.0 (4Kp60) port, enabling extended compatibility with DisplayPort 1.4 hosts that are becoming more common now. One of the USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports is also being replaced by a RJ-45 Gigabit LAN port using a Realtek RTL8153 USB to GbE controller. The other ports and features (including the 87W pass-through charging port to which the host notebook's original charger can connect - enabled by a VIA Technologies VL103 PD controller) are retained. The USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports are enabled by the VIA Technologies VL817 hub chip, and the card readers have a Genesys Logic GL3224 chip behind them.

Plugable's New 2021 USBC-7IN1E Multi-function Hub

The new 2021 Plugable USBC-7IN1E multi-function USB-C hub is now available for $30 (after applying a $5 off coupon on the MSRP of $35).

Interested in more of the latest industry news? Check out our CES 2021 trade show landing page!

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  • webdoctors - Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - link

    Wow, 4K60 hub for $30 seems like an amazing deal. Once I start travelling again I'll pick this up! Reply
  • Tomatotech - Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - link

    I remember when all these ports were on the laptop :) That said, I myself have a similar hub with everything plugged into it. So much nicer to only have a couple of wires to unplug when picking up the laptop. When I finally get a USB-C laptop that will go down to only the one wire.

    This 2021 hub seems an excellent choice of ports at a good price. I can see myself getting one of them, perhaps with a USB-C extender cable so that I can hide it behind my desk.
    Reply
  • weilin - Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - link

    I'm kind of surprised that HDMI is via a DP -> HDMI bridge chip... USB-C supports HDMI alt-mode so this feels like needless complication?

    My other disappointment is the lack of USB 3.1 (10Gb/s) ports... While updating the display controller they should have updated the USB controller as well. Then this would be a modern port expander. Right now its configured as something that's been available from competitors since early 2020?
    Reply
  • lmcd - Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - link

    No one implements HDMI alt mode.

    And there isn't *that* much bandwidth to have a 3.1 port on the dock itself so I disagree.
    Reply
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