If you’re like us, you’re probably in spring cleaning mode. Maybe you’re inspired by Marie Kondo to organize your home and get rid of items that don’t spark joy or being cooped up all winter has you yearning for a tidier home. When it comes to electronics, especially all the random accessories and cables, it’s hard to know what makes sense to keep and what you should send for recycling. This guide will give you some basic rules to follow so you make sure you’re holding on to useful adapters and cables, while chucking the rest.
Cables & Adapters to Keep
1. Lightning Cables
Lightning cables are the charger for most Apple products, including iPhones, iPads, and computer accessories like wireless keyboards and mouses. If you buy Apple products, keep every lightning cable you get your hands on. You may even want to buy some extra cables to keep on hand for when you need to charge all your devices at once.
2. HDMI Cables
There are so many uses for HDMI cables these days, that you should never throw one out unless it’s worn and broken. HDMI cables are now the standard for home theater set-ups and computer monitors. Keep any extras on hand for future needs. Continue reading Cables, Cords, & Adapters: Keep or Toss?→
Right now iPads and the more expensive iPad Pro line-up are some of the best tablets on the market. And with the Apple Pencil, the stylus game has been taken to the next level. The Apple Pencil offers precision and sensitivity so close to using a real pencil and paper that artists and writers are all switching to this new tech. Even just using an Apple Pencil as a stylus makes tablets easier to use and more accessible. But, this amazing technology comes with a hefty price tag and not everyone can afford the extra cost. For this article, we break down some of the best alternatives to the Apple Pencil. Whether you’re looking for a really cheap stylus for casual browsing or a good competitor to the Pencil, we’ve got all of the best options below.
Best iPad Stylus Options
Handsdown, the Apple Pencil is the best stylus for an iPad, so we wanted to review it briefly so you can compare it to the other options. Because it’s designed and manufactured by Apple, the Pencil is made to work perfectly with their iPads. It’s designed to look like a pencil with a tapered tip that offers a very precise drawing and writing experience, especially in comparison to cheaper styluses that have big round rubber tips. When you use it with the iPad, there is no lag, it feels like you are drawing directly on the screen with a pen. It also works really well for navigation and generally selecting things on the screen, but if you’re not going to use it for drawing and writing, I would say it’s not worth spending the extra dollars.
There are two big drawbacks for the Apple Pencil: the first is the price. The second is this stylus is only compatible with iPad Pros & the 6th generation 9.7″ iPad released in March 2018. Some people will count this as a downside, but I feel like this is a neutral point. The Apple Pencil has to be charged. Apple boasts a 12-hour battery life, which should easily get you through the day with heavy use. You can charge the Pencil by plugging it directly into your iPad or buy a third party Apple Pencil charging cable.
Compatibility: iPad Pro 9.7″ & 12.9″, 6th Generation iPad 9.7″
If you’re looking for a fine tip iPad stylus that is a formidable alternative to the Apple Pencil, the Fineline is the one for you. This stylus connects to your iPad via Bluetooth to deliver a precision you can’t get with cheaper alternatives. As a result, it does need to be recharged with the included USB cable. There is a battery indicator on the stylus and it automatically goes into sleep mode when not in use. The fine tip offers accuracy similar to using a pen, but many users report a delay that can be frustrating. This model does not come with a cap, instead you can twist the tip in and out, which also turns the pen on and off.
While the Fineline is priced lower than the Apple Pencil, it is one of the more expensive alternatives. If you’re just looking for a stylus for navigation, I’d recommend checking out some of the cheaper options below. It’s also only compatible with iOS devices and only works when paired with certain apps, like Bamboo Paper and Inkspace. Some users do complain about accidentally hitting the shortcut button while they’re using the Bamboo Fineline.
Compatibility: iPads & iPhones featuring Bluetooth and iOS8 or later
The Adonit Pro 3 is a slick and reasonably priced alternative to the Apple Pencil. It’s geared at creatives and professionals who need to write, draw, and mark up things on their iPad. The design on this model is a little different from other styluses you may have seen. It features a clear Precision Disc which glides over your iPad screen, while the pen point shows exactly where you’re writing. It works quite smoothly and features a magnetic cap that protects the pen in your pocket or bag. This is an analog stylus, so there’s no charging to worry about and it works with all touch screen devices.
There are downsides with analog styluses. While it has a slick aluminum design and a comfortable grip, you may notice a slight delay when writing, which can be a big problem for artists. Adonit recommends this model for everyday notes and sketching, so it’s great for students or workers to jot down notes. If drawing and art are your main motivations for a stylus, you might want to try the Adonit Pixel Pro–but at that price point, you might as well buy an Apple Pencil if you have a compatible iPad.
Compatibility: All Touchscreens, All iPads, Smartphones, Android Tablets, Touchscreen Laptops
Available Colors: Black, Silver, Midnight Blue, Rose Gold
The Cosmonaut is different from the other styluses on this list, and it’s very apparent. This tablet stylus is thick, about the same thickness as a dry erase marker. While you may be put off by this at first, it’s actually a great design. The thicker barrel is more comfortable to hold and a great option for kids or people with accessibility issues. It features a round tip perfect for touchscreen navigation or writing and drawing.
The Cosmonaut stylus does lack an exact tip that may make drawing more difficult for some graphic designers and artists. It was designed to be most similar to writing on a dry erase board, so if you’re doing detailed sketching, consider the recommendations above. But with a wide range of compatible devices and a reasonable price point, this is a great alternative to the Apple Pencil, especially for younger users.
If you’re an artist or want a cheap Apple Pencil alternative that’s easy to doodle with while you take notes in class, the CADA Stylus is a fantastic low priced option. Similar in design to the Adonit, the CADA gives you an accurate pinpoint in the center of a clear accryllic disc, so you always can see where you’re drawing. The spring tip helps drawing feel natural, allowing you to work at any angle.
The CADA drawing stylus is lightweight and features a curved ergonomic design for comfort. While this stylus is great for artists and comes at a fantastic low price, it is not the same drawing experience as an Apple Pencil or the other more expensive options on our list. But it’s great for budget-strapped students.
Compatibility: All iPads, Android Tablets, Smartphones, Kindle Fire, Motorola Xoom Tablet, Samsung Galaxy, Other Capacitative Touch Screens (Does not work with Windows tablets)
AmazonBasics Executive Stylus for Touchscreen Devices
If you’re just looking for a cheap tablet stylus for casual browsing and occasional writing on your tablet or smartphone, this is one of the best deals available. AmazonBasics is Amazon’s private label brand that makes a variety of good quality, low cost tech accessories. At under $10, this stylus is a great value that works find with all iPad models and other capacitive touch screen devices. This pen sized stylus is light and comfortable in the hand and features a clip for easy storage. It has a sophisticated style that’s great for the office or for home.
While they say you can use it for drawing, professional artists will probably find themselves frustrated by the experience. This is a good option for hobbyists using coloring book apps. This is also fantastic for people who feel like they’re “fat fingered” when they use tablets or smartphones. It’s good for typing and fantastic for navigation. Using a stylus like this is good to avoid smudging your screen or covering it in fingerprints.
Compatibility: All iPads, Android Tablets, Smartphones, Any Touchscreen Devices
iPads and iPhones are quickly becoming full-fledge computing platforms. One thing that’s holding them back is their lack of ports however: even the beefy iPad Pro famously has just a single Lightning connector port and a single headphone 3.5mm jack built in. The good news is there are more and more adapters for iPads and iPhones which allow you to extend their capabilities to connect cameras, wired internet, televisions, projectors, keyboards and more. We’ve rounded up some of the most useful iPad adapters and iPhone connectors.
So let’s jump in and connect some neat stuff to your iOS devices.
USB, Camera, Ethernet, & TV adapters for iPads and iPhones
This is one of the original iPad adapters made by Apple themselves. It plugs into your iPad or iPhone’s Lightning port and offers you a normal USB type A port in exchange. When you plug in this USB adapter for iPad/iPhone you can download photos from your DSLR or other camera by plugging it in just as you would plug it into a computer with its USB cable. You can also plug in a limited set of other USB devices like physical keyboards for typing faster than the on-screen software keyboard that iOS devices have. It’s also possible to plug in musical instruments like USB-connector MIDI keyboards to play music with the GarageBand app.
Here’s a neat iPhone/iPad adapter. It’s a camera memory card reader for iPhone/iPad. You can plug it into your iPhone or iPad and read images directly off of your camera’s SD memory card or micro SD card (sometimes called a TF card). One other neat trick this device has is a normal USB type A port on the other side so you can also use it to read memory cards on to your computer. It even has a fold-out micro USB adapter which lets you plug it into various Android devices that have a micro USB port. If you need to transfer images from a memory card on to a variety of devices, this might be a great choice.
If you’ve ever tried to use an iPad or iPhone in a place with terrible Wifi or poor cell signals, you may have thought to yourself “boy I wish I could just plug this thing into the wall to get internet!” Well, with an iPad to ethernet adapter such as this one, you can exactly that. It plugs into the Lightning port found on your iPhone or iPad and provides you with an Ethernet port on the other end. The iPhone adapter cable is 3.3 feet (1 meter) long, and comes in silver. Of course you’ll also still need to supply your own ethernet cable to plug into your router or wall-based ethernet outlet. See our related article: Best Short, Medium and Long Cat 6 Ethernet Cables.
The VGA standard for projectors and external displays was introduced all the way back in 1987. (Heck, it might even be older than you are!) But still all these years later VGA connectors are common to find for projectors and external monitors. If you need to connect your iPad or iPhone to a device like a projector that only has a VGA input port, you’ll need a Lightning to VGA adapter like this one. It connects to your iPad or iPhone’s Lightning connector and provides you with two ports at the other end: a VGA port and a second Lightning port to plug in your power adapter. Of course you’ll still need a VGA cable to connect the adapter to your projector or external display or other device.
This adapter lets you plug your iPhone or iPad into an HDMI cable which is connected to a television, external monitor, or digital projector. It’s simple to use: just plug it into the Lightning connector at the bottom of your iPhone or iPad and then plug in your HDMI cable and connect it to whatever device you’re going to display the content on. This is a great cheap alternative to buying a more expensive Apple TV for displaying iPad content on your television.
Will the iPad USB adapter work with this (XYZ) specific device? iPad to USB connectors or iPhone USB adapters work with a limited set of devices. Since there are tons of different types of USB devices– literally thousands– there’s no way for us to say for sure whether or not this adapter will work with specific devices. If you’re unsure whether or not a device will work we recommend you do a Google search to see if you can find other people talking about that particular USB accessory working or not working with a USB to Lightning adapter.
In general people seem to have good luck attaching external keyboards, still cameras, and musical instruments with MIDI outputs. Some other devices may work as well. For some (admittedly a little outdated) examples, see this 2010 Macworld article: iPad Camera Connection Kit connects other things, too.
Do I need to install any special software to make these adapters work with my iPhone or iPad? No. All of the iPad to USB or other types of iPhone adapters listed on this page don’t require you to install any special software or drivers. (In fact, iOS doesn’t even have drivers!) It’s just plug and play for each of these Lightning adapters.
More and more people are using iPads as laptop replacements these days. They’re fast, have amazing battery life and they’re also easy to use. Perhaps the only drawback for everyday use is their lack of a physical keyboard. We’ve done a run-down on the best physical keyboards for iPad which you can attach wirelessly using Bluetooth. Because we’re putting extra attention to durability as well as price, these iPad keyboards are especially good for school use– not just for individuals.
The Best Keyboards for iPad for schools & personal use
Anker, a high tech accessory company founded by former Google engineers, has created one of the most popular keyboards for iPads: the Folio Smart Case. It folds around your tablet and practically turns your iPad into a laptop. With a comfortable keyboard and a 6 rechargeable month battery life between recharges (assuming 2 hours of use every day), this Bluetooth keyboard case for iPad comes in black and dark gray. One nice thing about this iPad keyboard case is that it has a hole for your device’s camera, something not every case offers. When you open or close the case it’ll automatically activate the keyboard once it’s been initially paired. It also acts as an iPad prop so you can view the tablet’s screen while you’re typing without having to set it against anything else.
Note that this particular model is for iPad Air 2 (popular in the education market– many schools have them). However, they also offer other models to fit other iPads:
This is a very popular keyboard case for the 9.7 inch iPad Pro (models for other sizes below). It features an LED-backlit keyboard for typing in the dark (that can be set to any one of 7 different color options!) and it’s even water-resistant in case you spill something on it. This model doesn’t run on replaceable batteries; instead, it has a rechargeable battery that you can plug into any standard USB outlet (comes with a charging cable). The LED-backlit keyboard has an on-off switch luckily since it uses a fair amount of battery. Although if you have the keyboard lighting off, it’ll run for up to 180 hours without a recharge, which is a better life than any laptop (and of course it’s also better than your iPad too). It comes in silver, black, gold, rose gold, and black color options.
Note that since iPad Pros come in different sizes you’ll need to choose a keyboard case that fits your model. If you don’t have the 9.7″ iPad Pro, you’ll want to check out these alternatives for different sizes:
In some cases (pun intended) you might not want a full iPad keyboard case– you might just want the keyboard itself. For instance, if you already have an iPad case that you’re happy with or you you only want to use a Bluetooth keyboard for iPad under certain circumstances. Here’s a model for that scenario: it’s an ultra-slim Bluetooth keyboard for iPads (or iPad Air, iPad Pro, iPad Mini or even devices like iPhones or Galaxy Tabs or Macs & Windows PCs).
It connects to your device using the normal Bluetooth pairing protocol. Runs off of standard AAA Batteries for 3 months of life before you’ll need to replace them. This wireless iPad keyboard also features a neat auto-sleep mode where it automatically turns off after 30 minutes of inactivity. Although this model is a black iPad keyboard, they also offer a iPad keyboard in white.
Will every iPad case with keyboard fit every iPad?
Nope! iPad Minis are quite small and iPad Pros come in different sizes, so you’ll need to make sure that whichever keyboard case for iPad that you get is the right size for your tablet model.
Does any Bluetooth keyboard work with iPad?
Since the iPad uses the standard Bluetooth specification, any regular old Bluetooth wireless keyboard should work with your iPad. However you’ll want to make sure that if you do get just a regular old Bluetooth keyboard, it doesn’t require a special USB dongle to pair it with your computer. If you have a Mac desktop like an iMac for instance, there’s a good chance it came with Apple’s standard wireless Bluetooth keyboard. You know, the one that looks like this:
If you want to, you can pair that with your iPad by going into Settings on the iPad, choosing Bluetooth and then turning it on. Then you’ll see a list of all “discoverable” devices (like your keyboard when it’s switched on) which you can connect to. Your iPad will then give your a special code to type on your keyboard and once you type that in, you’ll be paired and ready to use your physical keyboard with your iPad.
Can I use a normal USB wired keyboard to plug into my iPad, or do I have to use a wireless Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad?
Many people don’t know this but there actually is a way to use a regular old USB computer keyboard with an iPad. In order to plug it in however you’ll need Apple’s Lightning to USB connector dongle which plugs into your iPad’s Lightning port and gives you a USB port to plug in either a camera or a keyboard (or a few other types of peripherals like USB pianos for recording in the GarageBand music app).
Why would a person want a keyboard for an iPad?
Many people find physical keyboards much more comfortable to type on as opposed to a glass screen on a tablet where you can’t quite feel where the keys begin and end, and they have no physical feedback to let you know that you’ve pressed them. Plus a keyboard on a screen is often more cramped than we’re used to, even on small laptops with small keyboards.
The main reasons people cite for wanting to use a physical keyboard with an iPad are the following:
Speed – It’s easier to type quickly on a regular physical keyboard than it is on a glass screen without physical keys
Accuracy – For most people it’s still easier to type in a highly accurate fashion when you can feel the keys beneath your fingertips
Comfort – Because of the larger size of a physical keyboard and the ergonomics of typing on a flat surface it’s more comfortable for many people to use a physical keyboard with an iPad instead of typing directly on the screen
Some people may wonder, what is the point of typing on an iPad instead of a laptop when you’re adding a physical keyboard to your tablet anyway?
That’s a fair question but some people prefer to get serious writing done on an iPad because they like that it offer several features. Here are the pros and cons of using an iPad for writing:
Constant autosaving – This is built into iOS
Distraction-free writing environment – It’s easy to get distracted on a computer when you can open so many things at one time but since iPads have rudimentary multitasking it’s easier to feel like you’re sandboxed in so you can focus on the task at hand
Amazing battery life – Because of their modern design, iPads have incredible battery life that no laptop can match
Size, weight, and portability – Even with an external iPad keyboard case, these tablets are still often lighter and smaller than even compact laptops are
Back in the old days all Mac laptops had Ethernet ports, allowing you to connect to the Internet using a physical cable. Today however none of the Apple laptop lineup has an Ethernet port. So, how to connect macbook to ethernet cable? This article will outline several options for using wired internet with your Macbook. The first step is to identify which type of laptop you have, then you can decide which option you want to use. Since there are several models of Macbook these days, scroll down in this article until you find the photo that matches your Macbook.
How to connect a Macbook Air to an Ethernet Cable
The Macbook Air features two traditional USB Type A ports; one on the left side and one on the right side. To connect your Macbook Air to an Ethernet cable you’ll need a USB to Ethernet dongle. Here are two options for USB to Ethernet adapters below:
Apple USB to Ethernet Adapter
Apple makes this straightforward USB to Ethernet dongle adapter for its Macbook Air products and it works extremely well. To connect your Macbook Air to an internet cable you simply plug this adapter into one of your laptop’s two USB ports and plug-in the Ethernet internet cable to it. Your computer will automatically switch to the wired Ethernet connection after a few seconds.
If you want a USB to Ethernet adapter for your Macbook Air that offers more than just an Ethernet port, you may want to consider this adapter that converts one of your Macbook Air’s USB type A ports into an Ethernet port plus three replacement USB ports. This model allows you to connect external hard drives, external mice, keyboards, cameras, and other peripherals all without sacrificing one of your limited USB ports.
How to connect a new Macbook Pro with USB C and Touch bar to an Ethernet Cable
If you have a new 2016 or later Macbook Pro with four USB Type C ports then you’ll need to use a USB C to Ethernet adapter to connect to wired internet. Here are two choices for how to connect Macbook to wired internet using one of these models:
AmazonBasics USB 3.1 Type-C to Ethernet Adapter
This basic USB to Ethernet adapter solves the question of how to connect Macbook to the internet without Wifi. It plugs into your Macbook Pro’s USB C port and provides you with an Ethernet port on the other end. It’s flexible so you can adjust it to any angle and it is available in your choice of either white or black colors. No drivers or software is necessary to install it– just plug and play.
If you need more ports than just an Ethernet port, consider this multi-port adapter for your Macbook Pro with Touch Bar. It provides you with a replacement USB C port for the one it plugs into (which you can use for charging) plus an HDMI video out port for an external monitor, an ethernet port for wired internet, and a traditional USB type A port for older peripherals like wired mice, external hard drives or keyboards. This Macbook to Ethernet adapter dongle comes in both white and black.
How to connect a new Single Port Macbook with USB C to an Ethernet Cable
If you have one of the new slim single port Macbooks and you want to connect it to a wired internet connection via Ethernet, you’ll need a USB C to Ethernet adapter. Because your Macbook has only one port for charging or connecting peripherals, we strongly recommend that you get an adapter that will provide you not just with Ethernet ports but also a additional USB C port for charging your laptop so you can charge and use the internet at the same time.
USB C to Etherent Multi-Port Adapter
This USB C to Ethernet adapter provides you with a replacement USB C port for the one it plugs into (which you can use for charging) plus an HDMI video out port for an external monitor, an ethernet port for wired internet, and a traditional USB type A port for older peripherals like wired mice, external hard drives or keyboards. This Macbook to Ethernet adapter dongle comes in both white and black.
If you need even more ports, then we suggest using a proper USB C hub. This USB C hub provides you with the following ports, all from a single USB-C port on your Macbook:
1 USB-C charging or data port
1 Ethernet port for wired internet
3 Traditional USB A ports
1 HDMI output port for video out
1 SDHC memory card slot
1 Micro SDHC memory card slot
With this adapter, you can use the USB Type A ports to connect to printers, scanners, flash drives or external hard drives, while the HDMI port connects your single port Macbook to an external display or television. The SDHC memory card slots can read your camera or DSLR’s memory cards.
How to connect an Macbook Pro with Thunderbolt to an Ethernet Cable
If you have a Macbook Pro with Thunderbolt ports then you’re in luck because there are Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapters. Here’s how to connect Macbook to cable internet:
Apple Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
Capable of achieving very high speeds, the Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter converts one of your Macbook Pro’s Thunderbolt ports into an Ethernet port. Simply plug it into one of your Macbook Pro’s two Thunderbolt ports and connect an Ethernet cable to the other end of it and you’re good to go!
If you need more ports than are built into your Macbook Pro, this fully-fledged Thunderbolt 2 dock may be up your alley. It provides a slew of ports, not just Thunderbolt to Ethernet:
1 Headphone jack
3 Normal USB 3.0 Type A Ports
1 Ethernet port
1 Microphone port
2 Thunderbolt 2 (minidisplayport) ports
1 HDMI video out port
Note that this dock does need to be plugged into the wall using an included AC adapter because of how many ports it has (it needs additional power). But this premium Thunderbolt 2 hub supports 4K video resolution, provides a plethora of ports, and includes a 1 meter long Thunderbolt cable to link it to your Macbook Pro.
Frequently asked questions about how to connect Macbooks to Ethernet:
Which is the faster connection, Wifi or Ethernet cables?
Although both Wifi and Ethernet connections are both theoretically capable of reaching extremely fast internet speeds, in actual practice results will vary. Generally speaking, wired Ethernet connections will be faster than connecting to a Wifi base station that is hooked up to the same underlying internet connection. This is because adding a Wifi transmitting base station in between your computer and the internet always adds at least a little bit of latency to your connection (even if the Wifi router is new and fast).
Additionally, even though the latest and most expensive Wifi routers are extremely fast, if your computer is slower and doesn’t use the newest band of Wifi frequency or if your computer is new but the Wifi router is older you may not be able to achieve the highest speeds because the router will be bottlenecked by the slowest piece of hardware. Finally, depending on how far away you are from the router and how many walls or interfering frequencies there are from other nearby devices, your speeds using Wifi may be slower than they would be with a wired Ethernet connection. Ethernet is almost always faster than Wifi on the same internet connection.
Do these USB to Ethernet adapters require me to install any software or drivers on my Macbook?
No. None of the adapters or dongles listed in this article require you to install any third-party software, they all simply “plug and play” correctly on your Macbook, Macbook Air, or Macbook Pro.
Dow do you connect a Macbook to the internet without wifi?
Wired internet connections are called Ethernet cables. You’ll need one of the adapter dongles listed in this article since Macbooks don’t have Ethernet ports built in.
How to connect Macbook to wired internet?
Simply purchase one of these plug-in adapters to connect your Macbook, Macbook Air, or Macbook Pro to a wired ethernet cable. Depending on which type of Macbook you have, you’ll need to get a different type of Ethernet cable adapter. Use the photos in this article to identify which Apple laptop you have.
Why is Apple not building Ethernet ports into their laptops anymore?
The entire computer industry is slowly phasing out ethernet internet ports on their laptops for two reasons. First, Wifi or wireless internet has become incredibly popular and widespread making Ethernet less useful for many users. Second, because laptops are getting so thin and light these days, adding an Ethernet port would actually require laptop makers to make their products thicker than they need to be. While Apple is leading the way in ditching the Ethernet port, other manufacturers like HP, Microsoft, Dell, and Google’s Chromebook Pixels are following suit and getting rid of Ethernet ports too.
Apple’s new Macbook and new Macbook Pro and Google’s new Chromebook Pixel are thinner and lighter than ever but all that downsizing comes at a cost: there are now fewer ports on these machines than ever before. So, what do you do when you don’t have all the built in ports you used to? A slew of new dongles and adapters are available for these new laptops with USB Type C ports and little else. Here are some of the most important USB C adapters out that every new Macbook and Chromebook Pixel owner should consider purchasing.
Most important USB C adapters for Macbook and Chromebook Pixel Owners
As anybody that’s ever tried to plug anything into a new laptop knows, the world of computer peripherals is still stuck in USB Type A land (the old legacy connector), even while our computers have moved on to the new, thinner and faster USB Type C spec. So just about every Macbook Pro or Chromebook Pixel owner that ever needs to plug anything into their laptops will need a USB C to USB A adapter.
This two pack of USB-C to USB-A adapters allow you to plug in external hard drives, keyboards, wired mice, printers, scanners and a whole slew of other peripheral devices. Works with the new USB 3.0 high speed transfer specification.
As more and more devices are abandoning headphone jacks, USB C to headphone jack adapters may become increasingly necessary to use your wired headphones with various devices including new laptops and cell phones with a USB C port but no headphone jack. This USB C to headphone adapter provides headphone jack attached to a durable anti-twist cable. Compatible with laptops, tablets and phones, like the Huawei P9, LG G5/Nexus 5X, Microsoft Lumia 950/950XL, HTC 10/Nexus 6P, Alcatel Idol Series, Nubia Z11/Z11 mini and more.
These new laptops often have less overall ports than ever before so you might find that being able to convert just one port to USB Type A isn’t enough to use all of your devices– especially if you’re using one of your USB-C ports to charge your laptop. So if you’re in need of a lot of ports this USB C to A hub might be exactly what you need.
It converts a single USB C port into three normal USB A 3.0 ports, plus gives you an HDMI port to connect to an external display at up to 2K resolution. Plus it’s silver, matching the aesthetic of many of the new laptops such as the Google Chromebook Pixel and the new Macbook and Macbook Pro laptops from Apple.
Wifi doesn’t exist everywhere and even in places where wireless internet is available it’s often not as fast as plugging your laptop into an Ethernet cable connected straight to the network. Unfortunately virtually zero laptops shipping with USB C ports today also offer Ethernet networking ports. This USBC to Ethernet adapter solves that problem by converting one USB C port into an Ethernet port. Capable of up to gigabit speeds, if the network you’re plugging into can provide that. An LED status light will appear indicating network activity.
Apple’s older pro laptops offerred SD card slots, USB ports and HDMI outputs. This hub restores all that functionality and more by converting a USB C port into two normal USB A ports, an HDMI output to connect to external monitors or televisions or projectors, an SD card slot for reading camera memory cards, a micro SD card slot (also called Trans Flash or TF), and even an additional USB C port to replace the one that you’re using up, which you can use to connect additional peripheral devices or recharge your laptop. Works with Apple Macbooks, HP Pavilions, Dell Venue Pros, Alienware, Lenovo Yoga, Chromebook Pixel, and many other laptops with USB C ports running Mac, Linux or Windows.
Perhaps you’re noticing a trend with this list: each USB C adapter seems to have more and more expandable options than the last. Well, this one just about takes the cake. It’s a USB C docking station for laptops like the Chromebook Pixel or the Macbook Pro and it offers a ton of expandability. For pros that work with a laptop from their desk, this might be just about the ultimate USB C adapter. Here’s what it offers:
A headphone port
A microphone input
1 USB 3.0 port on the front and 3 more on the back
1 USB C port on the front to replace the one you’re taking up by plugging this in
Gigabit Ethernet port
2 HDMI outputs to connect to external displays (one of them capable of 4K video)
1 DVI port to connect to legacy monitors
1 USB C port on the back to recharge your laptop via USB C passthrough charging
Wow! That’s a lot. Works with Macs, PCs runing Windows and Linux.
Generally speaking, yes. Laptops that offer USB C ports often include the ability to charge via any USB C port. If you connect a USB C dongle adapter that provides other types of ports including a replacement USB C port that makes up for the one you’re using to plug it in, often that USB C port will provide what is called charge through ability, meaning you can plug in the laptop’s power adapter to that port and it will charge your laptop. Manufacturers of these adapters will generally say whether or not their device supports this ability or not.
Can I recharge my device using the USB Type A port on my USB C adapter?
It depends. Virtually any USB C adapter or hub will allow you to charge a cell phone or use a bus powered external hard drive via a USB A port. Some adapters will not charge larger devices like iPads or other tablets, or multiple phones or external hard drives at once because the amount of power provided is not adequate to charge it quickly.
Will this USB C to HDMI converter support 4K video?
It depends. Some USB C to HDMI adapters support 4K video and some don’t. That sounds simple enough but even adapters that support ultra high definition video don’t support it at 60hz per second, meaning for some uses like gaming it may be a seem jerky. Be sure to check exactly what the manufacturer says about the 4K HDMI abilities of their devices if that’s important to you.
If you’ve ever had a professional XLR microphone and wanted it to plug it into a computer so you can record instantly, you know the dilemma. There are myriad XLR to USB adapters and not each one of them will work for every microphone. In this list, we’ll go over some of the best XLR to USB microphone adapters, XLR to USB converters, and XLR-USB preamps, and the use cases where they’re most appropriate.
Best USB to XLR Cables, Adapters, Converters & Preamps
Hosongin 10 ft USB Male to XLR Female Microphone Cable
This is a simple XLR to USB cable but take note: it will not work with every XLR microphone on the planet. At first glance with an XLR female connector on one end and a male USB plug on the other, it looks like all you’d need to connect a professional XLR microphone to your Mac or PC. But in reality, this XLR to USB cable does not include a preamp, meaning it doesn’t provide power to microphones that need it, as most condenser microphones do. But if you have a dynamic microphone (examples here), then this cable should be all you need. For those with condenser microphones (examples here), read on to the other XLR to USB converters in this list!
This cable is compatible with Mac OS X, Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, & 8, as well as PS2, PS3, Wii, and Xbox systems.
If you don’t have a dynamic microphone (or one that has its own battery inside it) then you’ll need a microphone preamp built into your XLR to USB adapter.
When it comes to XLR to USB preamps, this is about as simple and basic as you can get: it provides 48 v phantom power to condenser microphones via XLR cable (not included) and allows you to plug in a supplied USB cable into your computer from the other end. If you need more frills, keep on reading this list for the next option.
Shure makes a multitude of pro headphones and microphones so it’s no surprise that they make XLR to USB adapters too. The Shure X2U adapter accepts an XLR input on one and and a USB output on the other. In between, the adapter provides you with a microphone port for confidence monitoring, a volume wheel, a mic gain wheel, a wheel for adjusting the volume of the headphone monitoring, and a +48 volt phantom power on and off switch, in case you’re using this XLR-USB adapter with some mics that need phantom power and some that don’t (an option the previous XLR to USB adapter on this list doesn’t offer). Its compact size makes it easy to throw in a bag and take anywhere you go, and this kit also comes with a handy carrying pouch.
The Behringer 302 USB mixer provides you with quite a bit more capability than the XLR to USB adapters earlier on this list. It allows you to plug in an XLR microphone, or a microphone or other audio source with a 1/4 inch jack, a 1/8th inch microphone jack, or even RCA left and right (red & white) audio cable. You can mix any one of these with dials and volume sliders, and monitor peaking with built in peak lights. Provides phantom power to XLR condenser microphones and also a headphone port with separately adjustable monitoring volume. If you need to plug in more than one XLR connected microphone, you may want to check out its bigger brother model, the Behringer Xenyx 802 which provides dual XLR ports as well as other port, or the granddaddy model with 4 XLR ports.
If you need to convert multiple XLR microphones to USB to plug into your computer, this is a great XLR to USB converter solution. It provides two XLR inputs each with individually adjustable volume plus a headphone jack and volume adjustment. This device might be especially useful if you’re recording a podcast and you want to get audio from two microphones or you’re recording music on your computer and you want to attach multiple XLR input devices. Another nice feature of this XLR to USB mixer box is that it’s designed to sit flat on your desk and not shift or knock over around even when you have long, heavy XLR cables attached to it. Also includes MIDI in and out.
Factors to consider when choosing an XLR to USB converter
Do I need phantom power? If you have a dynamic microphone then you won’t need an XLR to USB preamp which provides power to your device. But unless you’ve got a condenser microphone you’ll probably need phantom power, which means you can pick any of the items on this list except for the first one.
What kind of controls do I need on an XLR to USB converter? In some cases you might only need a volume adjustment or a phantom power on/off switch but in other cases you might want to make sure that whatever XLR to USB adapter you consider has the ability to control gain, provide real time headphone monitoring or additional inputs like RCA jacks or bass/treble adjustment ability or other controls.
Will I ever need to plug in more than one XLR device at a time? If you do, you’ll need a multiple-input XLR to USB mixer device like the last item on this list. If there’s even a chance that in the future you might later need to connect a second XLR input like a second microphone or other device we’d suggest you consider getting a multi-port XLR-USB converter solution.
USB Type C (or USB-C or USB C) ports are becoming more and more common on modern laptops, tablets and Android phones, mostly because they’re thinner which allows portable devices to be thinner, but also because unlike the rectangular legacy USB A ports we’re all familiar with, USB Type C is reversible, meaning you can plug it in rightside up or upside down and it doesn’t make a difference.
We’ve found some of the most popular USB Type C flash drives and thumb sticks that make carrying your data from computer to computer easy and convenient using these new ports.
If all you need is a USB Type C flash drive, this is a great choice. It holds up to 128 gigabytes of data, which is an astonishing amount– the same as some entire laptops hold. It has a tiny USB C port which retracts into the housing to protect it when it’s not in use. It also comes in smaller storage quantities (64GB, 32GB and 16GB) and has a loop for adding it on to your keychain. Note that if you ever plan to plug this USB C key into a computer that only has the normal USB Type A ports, you’ll need a USB Type C to Type A adapter to go with it.
If you’re looking for a thumb stick that can be used with both USB Type C and USB Type A (normal USB) computers, this is a great option. It’s tiny and has a USB C plug on one end (covered by a protective plastic housing) and a USB Type A plug on the other. In between it holds 16 Gigs, 32 Gigs or 64 Gigabytes of data.
Here’s another great USB Type C flash drive, in more of a traditional, that is to say, larger, format. It offers both a normal regular old USB A port on one end and a new thin USB C port on the other, as well as a rotating protective sheath to hide whichever port is not in use.
More and more laptops today are shipping without hardwired Ethernet networking ports, but the whole world isn’t covered in WiFi just yet. Thankfully, USB to Ethernet adapters have sprung up to fill that gap on both Macbooks and PC laptops, as well as Google Chromebooks. Here is an assortment of the best USB to Ethernet adapters we could find, as well as USB-C to Ethernet adapters:
Here’s a basic USB to Ethernet adapter. While it advertises itself as a USB 3.0 to Ethernet adapter, it also works perfectly well on regular old USB 2.0 ports if your laptop doesn’t have USB 3.0. It works on both Macbooks and PCs and has a small light which indicates network connectivity, once you’ve plugged in to your Ethernet cable.
If your laptop only has a couple USB ports, it can be tricky to sacrifice one of them just to plug in an Ethernet converter. Luckily, here’s a USB to Ethernet and USB 3.0 hub which plugs into your USB port and provides you with an Ethernet port and three additional USB ports. Works on Mac OS 10.6+ as well as Windows XP and higher.
Many new laptops like Chromebook Pixels and Macbooks are shipping with only USB-C ports which are smaller than the normal USB Type A ports that we’re all used to. So here’s a USB Type C to Ethernet adapter for laptops with these smaller ports. It works on Macs, PCs and Chromebook Pixels.
If your new laptop has only USB C ports, this is a great product. It provides you with three USB Type A ports (the normal rectangular USB ports that most external hard drives, mice and other peripherals still use) and a Gigabit Ethernet networking port. Works with Macs, Google Chromebook Pixel, and Windows computers running XP and higher.
Thunderbolt to Ethernet networking adapters are very handy especially on newer computers like Macbook Airs and Macbook Pros that don’t have ethernet wired networking ports. They allow you to plug into your laptop’s Thunderbolt port on one end and then provide a legacy ethernet networking port on the other, so you can get connected to the internet at faster speeds than WiFi allows, or in places where there is no Wifi.
Here are some of the best Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapters:
The original Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter that came out was Apple’s own model. It is just about as simple as it gets: it provides a Thunderbolt plug on one side, and an Ethernet port on the other. This adapter requires a Mac running OS 10.7.4 or later and a computer with a Thunderbolt port, of course.
This Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter goes from Thunderbolt on your Macbook Air or Macbook Pro running Mac OS 10.8.4 (or PC laptop with Thunderbolt running Windows 7 or higher) to a Gigabit Ethernet port and even gives you an extra USB 3.0 port to boot. This model is available in black.
Need even more ports? Here’s a Thunderbolt to Ethernet solution that provides not only a Gigabit Ethernet and 3 USB 3.0 ports but also an additional Thunderbolt port to hook up other devices like Thunderbolt hard drives, two headphone/microphone jacks, and an HDMI output port to hook up a TV or external computer monitor.