Being the largest and most influential tech brand in the world will invite more scrutiny than usual, I suppose, but the recent abrupt cancellation of the long-announced AirPower wireless charging mat is a major black mark for a company that prides itself on innovation.
Personally speaking, I never cared much for the AirPower charging mat, whose only benefit over regular wireless charging pads is that it can top up the iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously. And though I, too, find the MacBook Pro’s keyboards frustrating to use, my bigger gripe with Apple’s laptops is the lack of ports other than USB-C, which forces every user into something the tech industry have dubbed “dongle hell.”
I edit a lot of videos for work, and every time I need to transfer video files from a memory card to a MacBook, I need to plug in a card reader dongle. And if I want to pair a mouse with the MacBook? I’ll need a dongle for that, too, because most mice on the market have not made the switch to USB-C. Then, when I want to back up my videos to an external hard drive, guess what? Yes, another dongle.
A Shenzhen startup named Miizer is hoping to alleviate that problem to some degree with its all-in-one dongle, simply named the Hub. Not only does it offer virtually all the I/O connectivity one would need for personal computing, it also doubles as a wireless charging base that can charge smartphones and the Apple Watch at the same time.
I recently tested a pre-production unit of the dongle, and found that it works as advertised. It’s worth noting that the entire gadget is a bit chunkier than usual dongles, shaped almost like the original iPhone but double in thickness.
But that extra bulk is put to good use because the Miizer Hub offers more ports and features than any dongle I’ve seen before. In terms of ports, it has two USB-C ports that handles power and data transfer, two traditional USB-A ports, slots for Micro SD and standard SD memory cards, an ethernet port; and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The dongle is mostly made of plastic, except for the glass top plate off which devices will charge wirelessly. The Miizer Hub can also recharge devices the traditional way via an interchangeable charging head.
As a wireless charging station, I find the overall canvas a bit small to charge even one phone, let alone a phone and the Apple Watch, but with some juggling, it is possible. Ultimately, I would much rather just top up my phones with a wired cable as the wireless charging speed, at 10W, is a bit slow and my phone kept slipping off the Miizer Hub’s small surface. Topping up the Apple Watch is no problem, however, as the small battery negates the need for faster speeds and the Watch itself is small enough to sit comfortably on the Hub.
This dongle is best used for laptops lacking in crucial ports, most notably the MacBooks, but will work with any USB-C device. For example, when plugged into a recent Huawei smartphone, it does activate Huawei’s desktop mode. This means that if I also plug in an HDMI cable to a TV or an external monitor, I can use a Huawei device as a desktop computer. Though I’d also need an external keyboard and a mouse, which makes the entire set-up more clunky than just using a laptop.
Still, the Miizer Hub, which has been successfully backed on Indiegogo and selling at $69 a piece, does offer a solution for those suffering from Apple’s dongle and cancelled AirPower problems.