There’s no shortage of USB-C hubs out on the market that you can pick from, ranging from around $15 to $60. These dime-a-dozen devices are useful for attaching multiple peripherals to your USB-C-equipped computer with a single port, and whether you opt for a cheap or expensive model, you can expect mostly the same performance from each, albeit a cheaper model might have fewer bells and whistles or not look as nice.
But one company called DockCase is trying to introduce something new and unique to the market called the Explorer Edition 6-in-1 USB-C Hub, and it strives to disturb this space by offering novel features that you just won’t find on any of the ordinary USB-C hubs you can find everywhere on Amazon. It’s currently being featured in a KickStarter campaign, which has already reached its funding goal.
Enter the DockCase Explorer Edition USB-C Hub
A quick glance at the DockCase Explorer Edition 6-in-1 USB-C Hub, and you’ll see that it takes a transparent approach to the body, allowing you to see the technological guts contained within. But when you plug it in, that’s when the magic happens. An integrated 16-bit LCD display shows live data about the hub in real-time, including power draw, display resolution data throughput speeds, and more…
As I discussed when showing off the SharGeek Storm 2 Battery Pack, I have an affixation with see-through enclosures because I like seeing what makes things tick on the inside. DockCase easily hits that same note with me with their Explorer Edition 6-in-1 USB-C Hub, and it’s neat because you can see the quality of the electronics and the soldering from the outside.
So let’s take a closer look at this thing, shall we?
The DockCase Explorer Edition 6-in-1 Hub features six different ports. Our model comes equipped with:
- Power In: USB-C Power Delivery @ 100W
- HDMI: Up to 4K resolution @ 60Hz
- Data: 1x USB-C @5Gb/s (USB 3.2 Gen 1), 3x USB-A @ 5Gb/s (USB 3.2 Gen 1)
An optional Pro model is also available that replaces one of the USB-A ports with a Gigabit Ethernet port, but that isn’t the model we have in this review.
The LCD Display
The glaring feature of the DockCase Explorer Edition 6-in-1 Hub is the 1.44-inch 16-bit LCD display, which provides a live readout of all the different information relating to the ports of the hub that are in use.
If you’re using any of the USB ports, then the display will tell you how much data bandwidth is available for each port. When using USB-C, it will show how much power is being drawn through it, not just as a wattage amount, but also the relationship between voltage and amperage. And of course, the HDMI readout shows the display output resolution, refresh rate, and bandwidth used as that live data transfer happens.
This hub doesn’t have the Gigabit Ethernet port like the ‘Pro’ edition does, but if it did, then you would also see a Gigabit Ethernet speed readout in place of one of the USB-A readouts.
It’s a USB-C Hub, but a neat one
The DockCase Explorer 6-in-1 USB-C Hub is a device that works with almost any device that supports USB-C, including all Macs, USB-C iPads, some Windows computers, some Android handsets, and even game consoles such as the Nintendo Switch and Valve Steam Deck.
To be clear, the DockCase Explorer 6-in-1 USB-C Hub is only a USB-C hub, not a Thunderbolt hub, and it’s somewhat bare-bones as it lacks support for SD or microSD cards, doesn’t provide a DisplayPort port, and doesn’t offer any USB speeds faster than 5Gb/s as compared to some of the competition.
For a USB-C hub that strives to have an MSRP of $100 (or $110 for the Pro model), which is anywhere from 3-5x the cost of similar hubs from competing brands, the only feature that stands out to me most is the LCD display and I can’t really justify the added cost for such a feature. For $30 more, you can get an actual Thunderbolt 3 hub from OWC with just as many USB ports on it and all the bandwidth to connect the same devices you can to the DockCase Explorer.
That’s not to say that I think the DockCase Explorer or Explorer Pro aren’t cool devices, because as I said, I like the see-through aesthetic and the ability to view live data information on the LCD display. These features just don’t bring the value I’d like to see at a $100 price point, however. Instead, I think the KickStarter early bird backing price of $69 might be closer to an acceptable price, and certainly not $100.
My thoughts on the DockCase Explorer 6-in-1 USB-C Hub
I’ve compiled a short list of pros and cons relating to the DockCase Explorer 6-in-1 USB-C hub to summarize:
- Neat transparent design
- Built-in live data LCD display
- Plenty of I/O to get the job done
- Durable aluminum enclosure
- Braided USB-C to USB-C cable included
- Price tag is hard to justify
- Transparent top cover is a fingerprint magnet
If you’re looking for an interesting USB-C hub that offers what the DockCase Explorer or Explorer Pro bring to the table that most of the market doesn’t – namely the LCD display and the transparent top cover, then you can head over to the KickStarter page to back the project for as little as $69 for the non-pro USB-C hub.
Do you think the DockCase Explorer 6-in-1 USB-C Hub is a worthwhile investment? Let us know in the comments section down below.