Over the years we've seen an uptake in USB Type C. The Lumia 950/XL were in the vanguard, along with the Google Nexus devices of the time. From basic 5V/3A delivery through to multiple voltages in 2020, Type C has both come a long way and also gotten slightly more confusing. Here, providing a brief summary of the technicalities involved, I also want to (start to) review some of the commercially available USB Type C mains adapters. Don't worry, I'll add to this in time.
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Modern ultra-light laptops and hybrids tend to come with one or (at most) two USB Type C ports - and that's your lot. Meaning that there's a whole market for USB 'hubs' (e.g. the one I reviewed here from Choetech) and 'docking stations', as here. When is an accessory a hub and when is it a docking station? I'm going by size and weight - the Vava docking station here is around a foot long, has 10 ports/jacks, plus a mains 100W power supply that's simply enormous. The implication being that you'd leave this in the office, plugged in to all your desktop 'stuff' and then plug your smartphone/hybrid/notebook in when you arrive.
Something a little different, but which has the potential to save your bacon when mobile - these have been around for a few years but rarely in UK mains format and rarely so polished. Essentially this is a 20000mAh power bank with full PD (Power Delivery) right up to Macbook levels, but which also includes a 240V inverter, i.e. it generates mains electricity from its stored charge. And that's pretty neat - I've been going round my tech and household working out what it can and can't do!
You'll have already browsed our NexDock 2 unboxing gallery for this new 'super' smartphone accessory, plus you'll have read part one of our review, looking at the NexDock 2's hardware and operation in detail. In this, part two, I look at more examples of the NexDock 2 in use, in both a Windows 10 Mobile and Android context - what exactly is the use case proposition? Why and when would this be a better option than a Bluetooth keyboard (on one end of the accessory spectrum) or a Windows laptop (at the other)?
Last featured in our unboxing and first impressions Gallery, the NexDock 2 is an accessory par excellence for Windows 10 Mobile Continuum-compatible smartphones. Arriving way too late in the day really, the NexDock 2 easily redeems itself by also working with a large number of Samsung and Huawei Android phones. But let's start with general operation: what's involved in plugging in (e.g.) a Lumia 950 XL and getting going?
As a change after a week of imaging features, let's go to something completely different. Even away from smartphones, but staying within the Windows world. Now, the most recent Surface hybrids have had Windows Hello cameras in their top bezels and compatible fingerprint scanners in their optional Type covers. But what if you wanted fingerprint access to your older Surface device?
With most of us taking two things everywhere we go - our smartphones and our wallets - an obvious question to ask at some point is "Why not put the two together?" Now, while there have been 'folio' cases for many smartphones for years, usually with a few token card slots inside the front flap, this brand new Noreve accessory takes the concept and dials it up to 11. With understandable caveats for bulk and (here) price!
Bizarrely, the FYE-3 featured here is actually a development of the FYE-4 reviewed previously. Perhaps Blitzwolf is working down the numbers, not up?! Regardless, it's an Apple Airpods competitor for the rest of the smartphone world - and, unlike the FYE-4, it does a lot of things right (including acting as a part time power bank), even though it too ultimately falls down when considering audio fidelity.
Although this can apply to Windows 10 phones as well, it's less likely than for the Surface Go, which is more likely to need to hook up with USB accessories. Either way, this is an ultra lightweight, cheap way to expand a single USB Type C jack to four USB-A jacks. It only weighs 35g, costs just over £8 (including shipping), and is a no-brainer to pick up if you have a Go. Or indeed a recent Macbook or you just like having adapters and dongles in your kit bag!
Apple announced something like this a year ago, but have yet to ship it. Meanwhile, Choetech has come up trumps with a 5-coil array that can handle the most casual charging positions or, side by side, can wirelessly fast charge two smartphones/gadgets at the same time, at up to 2A each (depending on the recipient's capabilities). And it works exactly as advertised, with a theoretical 20W total output.