When Apple unveiled its ultra-slim MacBook back in 2015 the new design caused quite a stir. Aside from being gorgeous and tiny, it also came with a hefty price tag, a suspect keyboard, and only a solitary connection port.
The revised 2017 MacBook vastly improved the typing experience, time will hopefully erode the financial burden of buying one, but one thing unlikely to change is the lone USB-C aperture found on the device.
Can you live with only one port?
If you’re still pondering over the decision to buy a MacBook, and find the solo USB-C offering a potential difficulty, then it’s worth considering how you intend to use the device.
The USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port on the MacBook is quite capable and flexible in terms of what it can accommodate. But if you’re someone who regularly likes to attach multiple peripherals at the same time, all while using power hungry applications, then it’s probably not the machine for you.
In that case it’s worth considering the 13in MacBook Pro, which goes for the same price as the entry-level MacBook (£1,249). Admittedly you’re only getting one more port, and only half the storage, but the Pro model does feature more powerful specs all round.
For those with higher budgets, the 13in MacBook Pro with Touch Bar adds an additional two ports, plus general upgrades all round, but you do have to spend £1,749 to get them. Read our MacBook v MacBook Pro comparison review for more details.
If your needs are less demanding, though, and you’re happy to invest a little money in adapters, then the MacBook is still a great daily device that can meet most users’ needs.
Adding ports with a cable or adapter
Okay, an adapter or cable won’t add a port as such, but it will allow you to plug traditional USB devices (not to mention Lightning-equipped ones) into the USB-C port on the MacBook.
This is necessary, as the older USB connectors (which account for most of the peripherals in people’s homes) simply won’t fit into a USB-C aperture. So, you can either buy an adapter, which you plug into the MacBook and then use to attach your devices, or a cable to replace the one you already have.
Obviously, having to pack various adapters into your bag isn’t ideal, but if you only have one or two peripherals that you want to occasionally attach to the machine, it’s an easy fix.
Adding ports with a USB-C Hub
In the aftermath of the uni-port MacBook release, many peripheral manufacturers were quick to release a variety of hubs and adapters that can expand the options of users.
The principle is very simple. You plug the hub into the port on your MacBook, and then plug your iPhone, printer, camera, microphone, webcam, external drive or what have you into the various ports on the hub.
Due to the fast nature of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, the computer can handle a surprising number of external devices without issue, thus making the single opening on a MacBook much more versatile.
There are many different types of adapter, dongle, charger and so forth that can make a big difference to your USB-C life (like the Satechi Type C Hub Adapter pictured below), so check out the best buys and recommendations via our guide of the Best USB-C adapters, cables, and hubs for the MacBook – be sure to check that out before you head to the shops.
There you go. MacBook life now comes with dongles. It’s a shame, but if you want the lightweight, tiny frame of Apple’s smallest laptop, then those little bits of plastic can help things run a bit more smoothly.