Which USB C hub to get iPad Air 2020
October 29, 2020 4:47 PM   Subscribe

I am getting an iPad Air 2020 and want to get stuff squared away. I only see USB-C hubs available for the iPad Pro. Which, if any, USB C hubs can I use with the iPad Air? Do hubs even work with the iPad Air?

My google-fu is weak and seems to only find iPad Pro USB-C hubs that allow me to connect to my other media like USB drives or SSD cards. What hubs or periphs can I get to get full integration to my workflow. The limitation is that I am trapped with Australia Amazon and assume that I wish to access way more data than what a cloud service with its data caps would allow me to do in a speedy manner.
posted by jadepearl to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have not tired it myself, but the new Airs should be exactly the same accessory-wise as the Pros. Same port, same protocol, same OS. But: I have not tried it.
posted by GuyZero at 5:14 PM on October 29, 2020

Best answer: Yeah, USB-C is confusing in many ways, but this is not one. :) Any USB-C hub (defining a USB-C hub as a device with a couple of USB-A ports, a USB-C upstream port, and maybe an HDMI port, card reader, etc) will work fine on pretty much any computer-like device, and probably almost any phone as well. I’d be shocked if iPad Air doesn’t support anything a Pro does, and my iPad Pro works fine with a variety of USB-C hub devices I’ve tried.
posted by doomsey at 5:53 PM on October 29, 2020

Best answer: It is, indeed, a usb-c port supporting usb 3.1 gen 2 but not thunderbolt. IPadOS has:
  • pretty good external display support - so long as said display supports usb or HDMI. No thunderbolt displays need apply. Also iPadOS doesn't have much of an idea about 2nd screens. There is support for applications to utilize an external display as an additional display but it has to be supported app-by-app. OS level external display support is limited to mirroring at iPad-native aspect ratios
  • reasonable support for external storage (APFS, HPFS, FAT filesystems)
  • pretty good support for usb keyboards and mice
  • lacklustre-to-no support (for the items I've tried) in the way of usb printers and scanners
  • apparently support for some audio gear? I see articles like this one but it's outside of my area of experience; let alone expertise.
You don't say what your workflow looks like so it's hard to know what you'd need to attach to your iPad. I can, however, speak to the things I use mine for.
  • I carry a tiny Satechi hub because it's handy and tiny enough I don't have to think about it. Audio out, usb-a, usb-c power. It does most of what I need.
  • I take a lot of video in a sporting environment; my most reliable underwater cam is an old GoPro with craptastic wireless support. So I grab clips off the scared with a usb-c 3 adapter like this one From Kingston
  • I was given a no name usbc hub similar to this one. The Ethernet port has been flakey but helpful in a couple tragically-bad-hotel-wifi situations in the before times. I have heard that other Ethernet options have been far more robust for other people. I am apt to blame this particular adapter
  • An unexpectedly useful item was a portable usbc ssd. If I could go back to my youth and describe how fast portable storage might be for 1/3rd the price I'd just paid for that shiny new 8gb hdd ....

posted by mce at 5:58 PM on October 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to clarify with everyone, I can go ahead and ignore the labeling that indicates a USB-C hub is for a MacBook, iPad, or whatever the heck is being labeled with it? I see many a hub that lists only certain devices. I ask this because of previous bad moments with underpowered hubs.
posted by jadepearl at 6:21 PM on October 29, 2020

Best answer: I can go ahead and ignore the labeling that indicates a USB-C hub is for a MacBook, iPad, or whatever the heck is being labeled with it?

No, I don't think you can necessarily ignore labeling about product compatibility. However, any USB-C hub that proclaims compatibility with the 2020 iPad Pro models is almost certainly going to be compatible with the new 2020 iPad Air (in fact I'd suspect that in such a case that the description just hasn't been updated to reflect newer models). However, I'd be more wary of USB-C devices that only mention compatibility with desktop or laptop devices (as tablets may not supply as much power as larger devices or support that class of device) and I'd also be wary of devices that don't list any iOS devices in their compatibility list (as Apple may not include support for all the features of that particular device in their software). The 2018 or 2020 iPad Pro models have the same flat edges of the new 2020 iPad Air, USB-C hubs that snug up next to an iPad that only claim compatibility with older iPads might be physically designed for the curved edges of those iPads.
posted by RichardP at 6:55 PM on October 29, 2020

Best answer: I’d be more direct and say that a hub offering features that are supported by the iPad will work, whether or not the marketing copy says “iPad.” mce did a good job above of providing a feature list (I can add that audio hardware like USB-to-line jack adapters and such also works fine from personal experience). And as long as the features you’re trying to use are supported by the iPad the hub itself is essentially standardized as are the access protocols for the feature and it is reasonable to expect the hub and its features should ‘just work’ - and failure to do so is reasonably a failure to be suitable for advertised use and qualifying for return :)
posted by doomsey at 7:36 PM on October 29, 2020

Response by poster: Thank you all. I have ordered my hub.
Your answers were well detailed and reassuring. It also reminded me that I have a case for the iPad and needed to be sure it would fit.
posted by jadepearl at 11:43 PM on October 29, 2020

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