Sunday, April 17, 2016

Reviewing the Hootoo HT-UC001 USB-C Hub for my MacBook

I recently bought myself a Hootoo HT-UC001 USB-C Hub for my Retina MacBook. As the Retina MacBook only has a single USB-C port for everything, I needed a hub that is capable of handling multiple things yet still be portable. I have had the Hootoo hub for a week now, and I would like to share my experiences. 


What is USB-C?



The MacBook, as well as newer Android phones like Nexus 6P, use the new USB-C standard. This new port provides up to 100W of power and 10Gbit transfer rates with the new USB 3.1 standard. The port is also reversible, which allow you to plug it in any way you want. In order to accommodate all of this, a new port had to be created that is not backwards compatible with the older USB ports.



Type A Micro-B Type-C
Typically found on computers and USB devices like hard drives, printers and mouses. This type is typically found on mobile phones and tablets. This is the new port that is intended to replace everything and be used everywhere.

The USB hub I will be reviewing today uses a USB-C plug to connect to computers or mobile devices.

Construction and build



The hub is made of a nice aluminum finish that very closely matches the silver MacBook. The bottom is made of a dark rubber, like the cable. It has a very solid feel to it. The cable is 6" inches long to the tip, which I find to be a good size.

Just the ports I need


The hub includes 6 inputs:
  • SD Card reader
  • 3 USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 HDMI 1.4 port
  • 1 USB-C charging port

The first thing I looked for when buying a hub was an SD Card reader. Traveling with my laptop, I wanted the ability to import pictures from my camera. If I bought the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter,  I would have to use a USB cable to connect it to my camera to transfer folders and that is just too messy. Using the Wi-Fi transfer of my Camera is just too slow and clunky. Because of this, I ruled out the Apple adapter as an option.

Next I wanted the ability to connect to my monitor just in case. My monitor is an LG Ultrawide 34UC97 Display at 3440x1440 resolution, which can be an issue with HDMI. Upon plugging it in, I was able to get the full resolution but only at 50Hz PAL. HDMI 1.4 does not have enough bandwidth to reach 60Hz at this resolution. But I find it very hard to differentiate between 50Hz and 60Hz. 


Because I only have one port, I need a hub that is capable of charging my MacBook. This hub does exactly that with the USB-C port it includes, which can only handle charging. When USB-C originally came out in 2015, many hubs were released but every company was having trouble implementing the USB-C charging onto their hubs. Now in 2016, having hubs with USB-C charging ports is more common.


Issues with Mac OS X


There is one major issue I have found with using this USB-C hub, which is actually not the fault of the hub but of Mac OS X. Sometimes when I plug in the hub and then insert an SD card, nothing shows up on my MacBook. If I plug in a USB 3.0 flash drive, it still does not show up. If I plug in a USB 2.0 flash drive, it works!

What appears to happen is that Mac OS X registers the hub as a USB 2.0 hub, and anything that requires USB 3.0 does not work. I noticed this by checking System Report located in About This Mac.


 As seen in the screen shot above, this Hootoo hub is being registered as only a USB 2.0 hub. When this happens, only USB 2.0 devices will work. 

As a workaround, what I need to do is connect the hub and the USB 3.0 device I want to use first and then reboot my computer. Only then will the hub properly register as a USB 3.0 hub and properly work. I have reported this as a bug to Apple, and they seem to be aware of the issue. All we can hope for is a fix sometime soon.


Overall happy with this hub


Although the Hootoo HT-UC001 USB-C Hub has issues with Mac OS X, I do not regret my purchase. It has just the right number of ports I was looking for, although I would prefer having DisplayPort instead of HDMI. When it works, the USB ports and SD card reader run with the performance one would expect. I can't think of anything that I would change, except probably the price! But when comparing it to the cost of the Apple adapter, I believe you get more bang for your buck with the Hootoo. 

If you are looking for even more ports, your next stop is double the price with the Caldigit USB-C Dock or OWC USB-C Dock.

12 comments:

  1. Hi, which MacBook do you have, the 2015 or 2016 model?

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  2. I have the 2016 Macbook Retina and get no HDMI output; the display is detected in OS X and the resolution changes on the mac (as I have mirror screens turned on) but nothing is output to the monitor. I've tried on three monitors. Anyone else having this problem? System Report shows it as a USB 2 hub. Arg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If a reboot did not help in getting the monitor detected, it could just be an issue with the new USB-C in the 2016 MacBook. 9to5mac talked about this: PSA: USB-C on Apple’s new MacBook is a circus

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    2. I have the same issue. I find that if I disconnect the other USB connectors plugged into the HooToo and then disconnect and reconnect the HDMI I get output on the monitor. It's annoying, but works most of the time.

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  3. Replies
    1. I still have the issue with macOS Sierra Public Beta 1 :(

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    2. I still have the issue with macOS Sierra Public Beta 1 :(

      Delete
  4. I have a HT-UC002 Aluminum USB 3.1 Type-C Hub with HDMI 4K UHD Output, 3 Ports USB 3.0 and SD Card Reader connected to an HP Spectre X360, both purchased in December 2016. The devices attached to the HooToo are often not recognized by the computer. The computer shows a Billboard 2.0 device attached. I had first purchased a Benfei adapter dongle from Amazon, which seemed flakey, so I returned it.

    Has anyone ever had a successful connection with USB C and a multiport dongle, or do other dongles work?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have a HT-UC002 Aluminum USB 3.1 Type-C Hub with HDMI 4K UHD Output, 3 Ports USB 3.0 and SD Card Reader connected to an HP Spectre X360, both purchased in December 2016. The devices attached to the HooToo are often not recognized by the computer. The computer shows a Billboard 2.0 device attached. I had first purchased a Benfei adapter dongle from Amazon, which seemed flakey, so I returned it.

    Has anyone ever had a successful connection with USB C and a multiport dongle, or do other dongles work?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Apple Multiport AV Adapter has worked fine for me.

      Delete