This New Thunderbolt 4 Hub Is Almost Perfect but My Desk Is Still a Hot Mess

 

This New Thunderbolt 4 Hub Is Almost Perfect but My Desk Is Still a Hot Mess

Neatness is highly overrated and I love the Ejector

Photo by Author of my messy desk

In our old house we had an eight foot wide custom-built desk in a spacious basement office. We often had three computers and a printer with plenty of room to spread out paperwork. I had another desk on the other side of the office, a large bookcase, and plenty of shelves to store office supplies.

We have none of that now and it’s all my own damn fault.

We moved

In 2005, we moved to a retirement community. It’s the kind of place where you buy the home and rent the land. The homes are “manufactured homes”; they get delivered in two parts and are put together on top of a crawl space on site. We are on a wooded lot with a nice deck, they take care of the mowing and snow shoveling while we practice retirement.

I was concerned about the size of our new home, but I carefully measured our old place and found that we were only losing two hundred square feet. We’d be off-loading plenty enough furniture to make up for that!

Except.. after we moved in I realized that I forgot about my office. Oops, three hundred square feet of space gone. Space that we damn well needed! Aargh!

Accommodations

So that’s why I’m jammed into this tiny corner with a three foot wide desk and that’s why I had to give away and throw away a giant pile of stuff, including stuff that I hadn’t meant to throw away, but I had to do something about the mess in our garage and I had to do it in a hurry.

Our garage mess

External stuff

I keep two Time Machine drives. You may already know that Time Machine will automatically switch between multiple drives, using one this hour and the other the next. This and Backblaze (inexpensive cloud backup) give me redundancy — it would be very hard for me to lose my data.

I also have an external data drive that I use for Xcode, iMazing backups, and copies of stuff I keep in iCloud for convenient access from my IOS devices. There are a few other things that need to be plugged in now and then, but the M1 MacBook Air only has two USB-C ports and no USB-A, so this was a clumsy mess.

OWC Thunderbolt 4 Dock

OWC’s $179 4 port USB-C Hub gives me three additional USB-C ports and one USB-A port. That’s perfect for my needs (though they do have a larger, more expensive docking station).

I’m not connecting any displays, but the tech specs say that this can handle 2 4K displays at 60Hz or one up to 8K at 30Hz. The front Thunderbolt 4 port provides 60 watts of charging power. I thought it was a nice touch to put a lightning bolt icon at each end of the provided cable; that’s helpful for confused old duffers like me who might plug in any old cable lying around.

The 10Gb USB-A is again more than I need for older USB sticks, some small speakers I need to charge now and then, and a few other older things I have hanging about. The only device that I could not get to work with this is our old Garmin GPS, but that won’t work directly connected to the computer either, so I can’t blame OWC.

OWC says this hub will work with Apple M1 Macs, Apple Intel Macs with Thunderbolt 3 (macOS 11.1 or later), and any Thunderbolt 4 PC. It also can be a USB-C hub on iPads, Chromebooks, Android devices, and PCs with USB-C ports (Windows 10 or later). Not shabby for $179.00 bucks with a two year warranty.

You might notice the LED logo in my picture above. That can be dimmed or shut off entirely. I dimmed mine because it was bright enough to be slightly distracting.

The Ejector

You can attach three external devices and each of those can support a daisy chain of other devices. For a desktop machine, that’s fine, but I often want to take my laptop somewhere else like out to the porch on a nice day or to join my wife while she watches a TV show I have no interest in.

So I need to disconnect the external stuff. While that’s not overly annoying for my small set up, OWC has a neat ejector app for Mac and Windows that lets you safely disconnect everything on any of their hubs/docks with a single click.

Well, two clicks for me because I have too many menu bar items and have to use Bartender to be able to get at all of them. Bartender is a great product at $15.00.

One gripe

I’d like to have everything connected most of the day, but I do not want my battery charging all day because that’s not good for lithium batteries. With older MagSafe, you could block the middle pin on the cable to prevent charging, but I don’t think there’s any way to do that with Thunderbolt. I did contact OWC support about that and will update this article when I get a definite answer.

For now, I moved the external drive off the hub. That leaves me with three clicks to disconnect.

If you need more Thunder at your desk, you could order one of these OWC hubs/docks. Here’s some appropriate music while you do that.

Got a comment? Lay it on me.

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